What Is Hydrocodone Addiction?

Hydrocodone belongs to a class of synthetic opioids used for prescription pain relief. One popular type of medication Vicodin combines both hydrocodone and acetaminophen the main ingredient in Tylenol.

Hydrocodone and other opioids work by traveling across the central nervous system (CNS) targeting various receptor cites in the brain, spinal cord, and organs. From there, they effectively block pain signals and provide relief from general pain symptoms.

But this process in-itself is not what gives opioids their addictive edge. Instead, opioids are habit-forming because they release large amounts of dopamine–changing the brains perception by creating feelings of satisfaction, euphoria, and relaxation.

For many individuals using hydrocodone as directed, addiction will not occur. Addiction is an illness that not everyone succumbs to. Those who are predisposed to substance abuse often inherit a genetic bias or have an underlying mental health disorder that makes them more susceptible.

Because prescription painkillers are deemed to be safe, some mistakenly believe that addiction can’t occur. Unfortunately, even those following their prescription addiction is still a major concern. For this reason, it is important to notify your doctor if you experience anything unexpected such as changes in tolerance or urges to take hydrocodone when you are not in any pain.

Once a person becomes hooked on hydrocodone, they may start using it recreationally. At first, they may have no problem getting prescription refills, but as doctors catch on and financial resources run low, these individuals will often combine hydrocodone with other opioids or move entirely to illicit sources of fentanyl or heroin.

Using hydrocodone with other drugs can be risky. Individuals should be aware of its reactivity with other drugs such as antihistamines, alcohol, benzos, and barbiturates as well as the more severe side-effects of hydrocodone itself.

Here are some common symptoms associated with hydrocodone use.

  • Feelings of euphoria and relaxation
  • Blurred sight
  • Dry Mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Clamminess
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Uncomfortable or painful urination

Other more severe side effects include:

  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Slowed of difficult breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat

Addiction to Hydrocodone and Its Effects on the Body

Hydrocodone addiction can be understood as a severe physical and psychological tolerance to the drug. Users may become aware of this strong dependency when they are unable to find a fix. The result of missing a dose during dependency are any number of unpleasant side-effects known as withdrawals. 

They include but are not limited to:

  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach cramping
  • Bone pain
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Friends and family may notice alarming changes in behavior and appearance associated with hydrocodone addiction and abuse such as:

  • Missing family or social engagements
  • Showing up to functions under the influence
  • Declining personal hygiene and sloppy appearance
  • Poor performance at school and work
  • Complaining of financial troubles
  • Asking to borrow money
  • Valuables start disappearing
  • You notice drug paraphernalia (empty pill bottles, syringes, straws, razers, etc.) lying around
  • They become hostile, even violent when questioned about their drug use

Opioid withdrawals are generally not fatal among healthy individuals, but because of their powerful influence over the body and brain, quitting cold turkey without medical supervision is a recipe for relapse. For this reason, medical detox programs are preferred for treating sufferers of opioid dependency.

Hydrocodone Subtypes

There are several brands of hydrocode on the market that catering to a variety of circumstances and needs. These drugs are often combined with other substances to increase their efficacy. They include:

  • Vicodin – Vicodin is a versatile drug made by combining hydrocodone with acetaminophen. It is used to treat pain symptoms bordering on moderate to severe.8 Each tablet lasts for 4 to 6 hours and comes in three different strengths 5mg, 7.5mg and 10mg.
  • Norco – Like Vicodin, Norco’s are a mixture of hydrocodone and acetaminophen and treat the same spectrum of pain symptoms. They also contain the same amount of hydrocodone. Norco’s, however, differ in the amount of acetaminophen used. While Vicodin contains 300mg Norco contains 325mg.
  • Lortab – Lortab is a liquid version of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. While it treats the same pain spectrum as Norco and Vicodin, it is generally prescribed for pain symptoms related to surgery and used in a hospital environment.
  • Zohydro ER – Zohydro is a powerful extended-release capsule that is taken every 12 hours. It is used to treat symptoms of consistent and regular pain that are on the more severe side.

Hydrocodone Abuse Statistics

  • Hydrocodone is currently the most prescribed opioid in the US with 83.6 million prescriptions sold in 2017.
  • Hydrocodone medication containing acetaminophen is the most commonly form of the drug on the black market.
  • In 2011, 82,500 ER visits resulted from illicit hydrocodone abuse.
  • Hydrocodone is the second most common opiate analyzed in forensic laboratories.

Find Help Today

If you or a loved one is struggling with hydrocodone addiction don’t wait. The sooner individuals begin treatment, the better the odds are of avoiding the long-term health and legal consequences of drug abuse.

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