Hi Matt - everything you want to know but are afraid to ask here
Pain management is so important. I have been on everything and have withdrawn from them all as well. As an addictions counsellor, I was shocked at how each affected me so differently, so I did some research a while back.
First - Discuss all of the effects and side effects with your Doc., like driving and other restrictions when considering narcotic pain relief.
There are 3 families of narcotic pain medications. There are 2 oldies derived from the opium plant itself (codeine and morphine) and a third 'family' derived from Thebaine which is used as a base for all of the synthesized narcotics such as anything Oxy and hydrocodone. (The synthesized stuff gets confusing - Oxy and hydrocodone are derived from a bit of codeine and Thibane, but you can also derive hydrocodone from Thibane itself - sheesh)
There are also combination drugs like Tylenol 3s with Acetaminophen and codeine, Percocet with Acetaminophen and Oxycodone and Vicodin (Dr. House's favorite) Acetaminophen and hydrocodone. There are many other combos - so be aware of what you are taking.
Codeine is the mildest of the 3, is most constipating and has a sedative effect. In Canada, you can get Tylenol 1s with 8 mgs. of Codein over the counter, T3s are by controlled prescription only and have 30mgs of codeine each.
Oxycontin is billed as a lot stronger and less constipating, but is quite different in that it has a slight stimulating and euphoric effect. For this reason it has been compared to heroin as being VERY addictive. As an addictions counsellor in a youth custody facility - saw a lot of this.(I was prescribed it pre-transplant- withdrawal is painful - I will never take it gain).
Hydromorphone is for more severe pain, has a sedative effect and can be constipating but on this drug, you may not care as much. I was prescribed this most transplant and did not have trouble weaning off afterwards.
Note - All narcotics affect memory and can affect sleep patterns as well.
Again - I suggest discussing all of the affects and side-effects with your doctor. Also ask any family members if they have had reactions to them as the side-effects are more severe for some than others.
Hope this helps