Difference Wiki

Norco vs. Vicodin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 29, 2023
Norco and Vicodin are both painkillers containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen, but Norco generally has a higher hydrocodone to acetaminophen ratio.

Key Differences

Norco and Vicodin are both prescription medications primarily used for the relief of moderate to severe pain. They are opioid analgesics that contain a combination of hydrocodone, an opioid pain reliever, and acetaminophen, a non-opioid pain reliever. While both drugs share these active ingredients, the key difference between Norco and Vicodin lies in the specific ratio of these components and their available dosages.
The hydrocodone component in both Norco and Vicodin acts on the brain to change how the body perceives and responds to pain. Acetaminophen, the other component, further enhances the pain-relieving effects of hydrocodone but is also used to reduce fever. When comparing Norco to Vicodin, Norco generally contains a higher amount of hydrocodone relative to acetaminophen, while Vicodin formulations traditionally had a more balanced ratio of the two ingredients. However, manufacturers adjust formulations based on evolving medical guidelines.
Both Norco and Vicodin, due to their opioid content, come with risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence. It's essential to take either medication under the guidance of a healthcare professional, adhering strictly to the prescribed dosage. While both are effective in pain management, the specific formulation (i.e., the ratio of hydrocodone to acetaminophen) in Norco might make it a preferred choice for some patients who require higher opioid strength or wish to limit their acetaminophen intake.
Side effects are a concern with both Norco and Vicodin. Users might experience dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, or constipation. Since both drugs contain acetaminophen, there's also a risk of liver damage if taken in large amounts or combined with other acetaminophen-containing products. When choosing between Norco and Vicodin, healthcare providers consider the total daily dose of acetaminophen to ensure patient safety.
In conclusion, while both Norco and Vicodin serve to alleviate pain through a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, the distinction between them lies primarily in their formulation ratios. Medical professionals weigh the benefits and risks of each medication, factoring in the patient's pain management needs and the potential for side effects, before prescribing either Norco or Vicodin.

Comparison Chart

Hydrocodone Content

Generally higher concentration.
Lower concentration compared to Norco.

Acetaminophen Content

Lower compared to Vicodin.
Generally higher than in Norco.

Pain Relief

Potentially stronger due to more hydrocodone.
Slightly milder due to less hydrocodone.

Maximum Daily Dosage

Influenced by hydrocodone limit.
Limited by acetaminophen content.

Prescription Considerations

Often for more severe pain.
Commonly prescribed for moderate pain.

Norco and Vicodin Definitions


Has a higher ratio of hydrocodone compared to similar drugs.
Norco was chosen due to its higher hydrocodone content.


A combination painkiller with hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
Vicodin was prescribed to alleviate her moderate pain.


Not recommended for long-term pain management.
He was advised to use Norco only for short-term pain relief.


Contains less hydrocodone per dose than Norco.
Her doctor chose Vicodin due to its lower hydrocodone content.


A pain medication containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
The doctor prescribed Norco for her post-surgical pain.


Commonly used for pain relief after minor surgeries.
Post-dental surgery, she was given Vicodin.


Classified as a Schedule II controlled substance.
Due to its potential for abuse, Norco is tightly regulated.


Also a Schedule II controlled substance.
Vicodin, like Norco, is subject to prescription regulations.


Often used for moderate to severe pain relief.
After his injury, Norco helped manage his pain effectively.


Higher acetaminophen content limits maximum daily doses.
He was cautioned not to exceed the daily limit of Vicodin.


What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a painkiller containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

Is Norco stronger than Vicodin?

Norco often has a higher hydrocodone content, potentially offering stronger pain relief.

Are Norco and Vicodin addictive?

Both have potential for abuse and addiction due to hydrocodone.

Can I take Norco for a headache?

Norco is generally prescribed for more severe pain than a typical headache.

Is Vicodin safe for long-term use?

Long-term use of Vicodin is not recommended due to addiction and liver risk.

Can I develop a tolerance to Norco?

Yes, tolerance to Norco can develop with prolonged use.

How does Vicodin affect the brain?

Vicodin acts on the brain to reduce the perception of pain.

How should I store Norco?

Norco should be stored at room temperature, away from light and moisture.

What should I do if I miss a dose of Norco?

If you miss a dose of Norco, take it as soon as you remember, but never double up.

What is Norco?

Norco is a pain medication combining hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

Can I drink alcohol with Norco?

Alcohol should be avoided while taking Norco due to increased risk of liver damage.

What are common side effects of Vicodin?

Drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea are common side effects of Vicodin.

Is Vicodin effective for all types of pain?

Vicodin is effective for many types of pain, but not all; consult a doctor.

Are there any alternatives to Vicodin?

There are other pain medications; a doctor can recommend suitable alternatives.

Is Vicodin safe during pregnancy?

Vicodin is generally not recommended during pregnancy; consult a doctor.

Can Norco cause liver damage?

Yes, due to its acetaminophen content, Norco can cause liver damage in high doses.

Can I take Norco with other medications?

Always consult a doctor before mixing Norco with other medications.

Can I drive while taking Norco?

Norco can impair reactions; it's best to avoid driving while taking it.

Can I become dependent on Vicodin?

Yes, physical dependence on Vicodin can occur with long-term use.

Can Vicodin be used for severe pain?

Vicodin is typically prescribed for moderate pain, but physician discretion applies.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons