Hydrocodone Addiction: Effects & Treatment

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, hydrocodone products were the most misused subtype of prescription painkillers in 2022.1 45.1% of individuals ages 12 and older who misused prescription opioids misused hydrocodone last year, while other prescription painkillers (such as oxycodone, codeine, and tramadol, respectively) were also widely misused.1

This article will go into more depth about what hydrocodone is, the health risks associated with it, overdose information, and information on how to get help.

What is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is one of the most frequently prescribed opioids and is used as a pain reliever and a cough suppressant.2 It is frequently misused for its euphoric and analgesic effects and as a result, has contributed widely to the opioid epidemic.3

Hydrocodone is often combined with acetaminophen under certain brand names. It can be used to treat severe pain only when other treatment options are deemed inadequate.2 This is a Schedule II drug, meaning that it possesses high potential for misuse, which can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.4 The misuse of and addiction to hydrocodone can occur even when it is being taken as prescribed.2

Side Effects of Hydrocodone

Like many opioid prescription medications, hydrocodone can produce adverse reactions, or side effects, even when taken as directed by a medical professional.2 Some side effects of this specific prescription opioid can include:2

  • Constipation.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Itchiness
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Abdominal pain.

Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone addiction, also known as opioid use disorder (OUD), is defined by the compulsive, uncontrollable use of a substance despite the consequences it can cause.5 Addiction is accompanied by functional changes within the brain that can impact an individual’s motivation, thought processes, and behaviors to the point where drug use becomes their main priority.6 Someone who is addicted to hydrocodone may not only experience these effects, but also physiological changes such as tolerance and dependence, which can adversely impact their everyday lives.6

Some of the diagnostic criteria for opioid use disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), include the following:7

  • Continued use of a substance despite knowing that it causes or exacerbates physical and/or psychological health problems
  • Taking more of a substance than intended or for a longer period of time that initially planned
  • Difficulties fulfilling obligations at home, work, or school because of use
  • Cravings, strong desires, and urges to use
  • Persistent desire and efforts to cut down or stop using, but being unable to do so

These are just some of the full set of criteria used to diagnose opioid use disorder. To receive a diagnosis of OUD, two of the full criteria must be present and occurring for at least a 12-month period.7

Risks of Hydrocodone Misuse

A significant risk associated with hydrocodone use is the risk of misuse.2 Different from addiction, misuse is characterized by taking a medication other than how it is exactly prescribed.3 This includes taking someone else’s prescription, taking more than prescribed and/or more frequently, or crushing, snorting, or mixing it with other substances.3

Hydrocodone misuse can increase one’s chances of experiencing the following effects, which can produce serious and potentially fatal health problems:

  • Tolerance – Tolerance can occur when there is a need for increased doses of the substance to continually experience the desired effects.2
  • Dependence – Physical dependence can develop, causing the onset of withdrawal symptoms upon abrupt discontinuation of hydrocodone or significant reduction in the dose of it.2,3
  • Overdose – Hydrocodone misuse can cause an increased risk for overdose (both intentional and unintentional), especially if it is being misused concomitantly with benzodiazepines, alcohol, other opioids or is laced with other substances .2

Hydrocodone Overdose

An overdose can occur when too much of a substance has been consumed, causing the development of life-threatening symptoms.1 Someone who is experiencing an overdose on hydrocodone in particular may present with some or all of the following symptoms:2

  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Stupor.
  • Coma.
  • Limp muscles.
  • Cold, clammy skin.
  • Pinpoint or dilated pupils.
  • Slowed heart rate and low blood pressure.

If you recognize any of these symptoms in a person, call 911 immediately. Administer naloxone if available and remain with the individual until first responders arrive.

Hydrocodone Detox & Withdrawal

Someone dependent on hydrocodone may feel as though they need it to feel and function normally. This occurs because the body has adapted to hydrocodone in a way where it become so used to the presence of the drug that when someone cuts back on their use or quits entirely, opioid withdrawal symptoms can emerge, such as:2,9

  • High blood pressure.
  • Elevated body temperature.
  • Increased respiratory rate.
  • Severe muscle and bone pain.
  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Anxiety.

For some, these symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, however they are not usually life-threatening.9 But, seeking professional assistance from an opioid detox program can help make this process more manageable.

Medical detox is conducted under the strict supervision of licensed healthcare providers. These providers, such as doctors and nurses, may administer medications, both prescription and over the counter, to help alleviate uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and help reduce opioid cravings and urges. Prescription medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and lofexidine, have shown to help mitigate the intensity of hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms during detox.10

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment in Texas

Greenhouse Treatment Center is an inpatient rehab facility in the Dallas metro area. We offer different types of rehab for you or a loved one, including medical opioid detox, inpatient residential treatment for those with severe hydrocodone addiction, intensive outpatient treatment or partial hospitalization for those who need intensive treatment but also need to live at home, and outpatient therapy for those with more mild OUDs.

We also offer different types of therapies, including individual, group, and family therapy and 12-Step programs. Lastly, we provide therapeutic activities, like art, music, stress management, and mindfulness.

It is possible to pay for our services using insurance that covers substance abuse treatment. We also offer additional ways to pay for rehab. We encourage you to have your insurance verified with us right now by filling out this simple and secure online

It is never too late to seek help for hydrocodone addiction. Please reach out today to start treatment by calling us at . Our admissions navigators are here to answer questions and guide you through the admissions process.

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