What Is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid typically prescribed to treat severe pain. Prescription opioids are chemically similar to endorphins, which is a chemical the brain naturally produces to relieve pain.
When misused, hydrocodone addiction is likely to develop because the brain and body will become dependent on the drug to alleviate pain.
Drug dependence means a person needs hydrocodone to avoid feeling sick, depressed or experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Hydrocodone is likely to cause feelings of euphoria and sedation for a person. When people begin taking hydrocodone in larger doses than recommended or without a prescription, they increase the risk of developing a hydrocodone addiction.
Sometimes combined with other drugs like acetaminophen, hydrocodone generally comes in tablet form. Hydrocodone is one of the central ingredients in many painkillers. Brand name drugs containing hydrocodone include:
- Vicodin ES
This is not a complete list of every drug that contains hydrocodone but is some of the more common drugs prescribed for pain and with a high potential for abuse.
Vicodin is perhaps the most commonly abused drug containing hydrocodone.
Like other prescription opioids, hydrocodone addiction contributes to the opioid epidemic in the United States. Almost 100 people die every day from misusing opioids, and many feel that the number is likely to get worse before it gets better.
Most opioid-related deaths result from an overdose. It’s crucial to understand the signs and symptoms of hydrocodone addiction, so one can stop use and seek treatment options before it’s too late.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Hydrocodone Addiction
While hydrocodone addiction is likely to produce specific symptoms on its own, there are general signs of drug-seeking behavior that may occur when someone abuses drugs.
Signs of drug-seeking behavior include compulsively using drugs, showing impaired judgment relating to drugs, craving drugs, and continually using drugs despite obvious harm.
When suffering from a hydrocodone addiction, a person is likely to put the drug before themselves and others, potentially causing damage in relationships and at work.
By misusing hydrocodone, the chance of experiencing side effects from the drug will likely increase. A person addicted to hydrocodone may experience:
- back pain
- difficulty urinating
- dry mouth
- muscle tightening
- ringing in the ears
- sleeping problems
- stomach pain
- swelling of the foot, ankle or leg
- uncontrollable shaking of a body part
While some side effects are uncommon, many can pose serious health risks. The more a person takes hydrocodone, the more likely they are to experience unwanted side effects.
Other unwanted side effects of hydrocodone addiction are likely to include:
- erectile dysfunction
- lack of sexual desire
- loss of appetite
- seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
Spotting, or acknowledging, a person has a hydrocodone addiction is a crucial step in the recovery process. If some of these signs and symptoms go unnoticed or ignored, then a person suffering from hydrocodone addiction may increase the risks and dangers associated with hydrocodone abuse.
Dangers Of Hydrocodone Addiction
Perhaps the greatest danger of hydrocodone addiction is an overdose. An overdose occurs when someone takes too much hydrocodone on purpose or by accident.
An accidental overdose may occur when a person feels like their directed dose isn’t relieving their pain, so they take more than directed.
A hydrocodone overdose can happen on purpose for many reasons, including wanting to inflict self-harm or achieve an intoxicating high.
During a hydrocodone overdose, the main danger is a person’s breathing; breathing is essential to life and difficulty breathing can lead to death. If the person doesn’t receive immediate medical attention, they may also suffer organ and brain damage.
Symptoms of a hydrocodone overdose may include nausea, stomach spasms, vomiting, low blood pressure, and weak pulse. Their skin may be cold or clammy, and their lips and fingernails may change color.
Overdose can potentially lead to coma, seizures and rapid heart rate.
If a person is experiencing a hydrocodone overdose, 9-1-1 should be called immediately.
Another major concern for hydrocodone addiction is mixing it with other substances like alcohol. Alcohol and hydrocodone may cause a person to feel unusual dizziness, extreme sleepiness, and become unresponsive. These symptoms can be life-threatening, and may also persist when mixing hydrocodone with other prescription drugs, like Oxycontin or Percocet.
The dangers of hydrocodone addiction can lead to long-term health issues, overdose, and death. Stopping use abruptly, however, is difficult and may lead to uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms of withdrawal.
Hydrocodone Withdrawal And Detox
Once addicted to hydrocodone, and dependent on having it, a person is likely to experience opioid withdrawal. Once a person develops a hydrocodone addiction and then stops taking the drug, the body and brain need time to adjust and recover.
Early symptoms of withdrawal may set in shortly after last use and are likely to include:
- involuntary leg movements
- muscle and bone pain
- runny nose
- sleeping problems
Other withdrawal symptoms can set in much later. These symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and goosebumps.
While symptoms of withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, they generally aren’t life-threatening for hydrocodone addiction. However, for some with severe addiction, the discomfort of withdrawal during the detoxification process may require medical supervision.
A medically supervised detoxification, or detox, allows medical professionals to closely monitor withdrawal symptoms. Detox is the body’s process of ridding itself of harmful toxins, and likely produces the sick feeling of withdrawal.
Medically supervised detox gives medical professionals the option to administer medications during this process.
While medications can help with the sickness of withdrawal, detox is not a cure for addiction. Different therapies should follow a medically supervised detox, and a person should consider different treatment options to overcome hydrocodone addiction.
Treatment Options For Hydrocodone Addiction
Hydrocodone addiction treatment options likely involve a combination of both medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy.
Due to opioid use disorder affecting millions of people, there are many governments approved medications to help deal with hydrocodone and other opioid addictions.
Medication-assisted therapy, or MAT includes using drugs like buprenorphine (Subutex and Suboxone), methadone and naltrexone (Vivitrol) to help reduce craving hydrocodone and ease the pain of withdrawal.
These medications have shown success for decreasing opioid use and overdose, and also increase the chances a person will actively engage and stay in treatment.
MAT is likely best served at an inpatient treatment center because these facilities offer around the clock, 24-hour care. A person will have access to staff and medications needed to overcome withdrawal and the eventual cravings that are likely to persist after detox.
Inpatient treatment centers will also likely provide different behavioral therapies after or along with the MAT that is essential to long-term recovery. Behavioral therapies may consist of one on one counseling, group therapy or support groups and more intensive therapies like dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
The ultimate goal of all behavioral therapies is to provide people with the tools they need to live a productive and sober life after leaving treatment.
By focusing on changing a person’s thinking and attitudes towards drugs, behavioral therapy can give people a chance discover what lead to their addiction in the first place, and understand their strengths and weaknesses to prevent future relapse.
Call now and speak with a trained professional to help guide you through treatment options for hydrocodone addiction, and start the process towards healing and recovery today.