HealthDay News — About three-quarters of opioid-dependent patients who participated in anonymous surveys and interviews indicated a preference for oxycodone or hydrocodone, researchers have found.

Significantly more users chose oxycodone than hydrocodone — 44.7% vs. 29.4% — mainly because of perceived superior quality, Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, from Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues reported in PAIN.

They conducted anonymous surveys and interviews to determine drug use patterns and decision-related factors for primary opioid selection in 3,520 opioid-dependent subjects entering one of 160 drug treatment programs.

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Overall, 54% of oxycodone users gave the drug a high euphoric rating compared with 20% of hydrocodone users, who cited acetaminophen as a deterrent to dose escalation and euphoric outcomes.

Risk-tolerant young, male users, who prefer to inject or snort their drugs and are prepared to use more aggressive forms of diversion tended to prefer oxycodon.

Risk-averse women, elderly people, noninjection drug users and those who stated they prefered safer modes of acquisition (such as doctors, friends, or family members) to drug dealers generally chose hydrocodone.

“Prevention and treatment approaches […] should benefit from these results because it is clear that not all drug abusers share the same characteristics, and the decision to use one drug over another is a complex one,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Cicero TJ et al. PAIN. 2013; 154(12): 2639-2648.