Hydrocodone Addiction, Withdrawal & Detox

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Detox from hydrocodone (Vicodin) and other opiates at South Florida's leading opiate addiction treatment facility.

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Compass Detox is well versed at helping people get through Hydrocodone addiction and withdrawal treatment and break through to the freedom that is sobriety. The dangers and discomfort that come along with hydrocodone addiction withdrawal can be challenging to overcome on your own. Here at Compass Detox, you will be surrounded by an industry leading team of medical and therapeutic professionals who will support you and provide you with a firm foundation of solutions that will not only see you through your withdrawal, but prepare you for the long-term sobriety that you seek far beyond that withdrawal. At Compass Detox, hydrocodone addiction has met its match.

Unfortunately, addiction can be a common result of taking opiates and is especially true with hydrocodone, even when prescribed as a medication by a doctor and not the result of substance abuse. Hydrocodone addiction almost always requires a medical detox program to overcome both the short-term withdrawal symptoms, and long-term psychological effects. At Compass Detox, our hydrocodone detox program always begins with an evaluation to find the safest path possible towards your sobriety. We treat mind, body and spirit to set you on the right path.

Are you or a loved one struggling with hydrocodone or other opiate addiction and in need of detoxification? Compass Detox can help! Contact us today for your risk-free consultation and find out how we can help you begin your journey to recovery.

According to the National Library of Medicine, hydrocodone is a moderately strong prescription pain medication. It is often found in the form of a pill that also contains acetaminophen.

A common brand name for the combination prescription drug containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen is Vicodin. Other brand names for hydrocodone combination drugs include Norco or Anexia.

Regardless of the brand new or specific formulation, hydrocodone, despite being a prescription medication, has the potential to be dangerous. In some cases, people may develop a hydrocodone addiction that requires treatment.

What is hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid drug, meaning it binds to opioid receptors in the brain to relieve pain. As an opioid, hydrocodone can also create feelings of euphoria and even lead to physical dependence, which means the body cannot function properly without it. Doctors typically prescribe hydrocodone to treat moderate to severe pain, but in some cases, it may be used to treat cough. 

When learning about hydrocodone, people may wonder about the difference between oxycodone and hydrocodone. Experts writing for the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology have explained that the two drugs have a similar chemical structure and act on the same opioid receptors in the brain to relieve pain. That being said, the body metabolizes the two into slightly different substances, but ultimately, both have pain-reducing effects.

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There is some evidence that oxycodone may be stronger than hydrocodone, but in research, the two drugs seem to be equally effective. For example, a study in Academic Emergency Medicine compared the effects of oxycodone/acetaminophen to hydrocodone/acetaminophen and found that the two medications were equally effective for reducing pain among people being treated for broken bones. The two drugs also caused similar side effects, but hydrocodone was more likely to cause constipation.

In summary, hydrocodone is a prescription opioid medication with pain-relieving effects. It is similar to other opioids like oxycodone, although people may experience different side effects with hydrocodone versus oxycodone.

Side Effects of Hydrocodone

As suggested in the research with opioid medications, drugs like hydrocodone can cause side effects.

In addition to constipation, hydrocodone may cause the following adverse effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty Thinking
  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Dryness in the Throat
  • Extremely Happy Mood
  • On the Contrary, Significantly Sad Mood
  • Rash and Itchiness
  • Pinpoint Pupils
  • Trouble Urinating

Can people abuse hydrocodone?

While hydrocodone is a prescription medication with legitimate uses, it is also possible for people to abuse this drug. In fact, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (FDA) classifies hydrocodone as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. Drugs in this category carry a high potential for abuse.

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People can abuse hydrocodone by taking more of the drug than is prescribed, by taking medication not prescribed to them, or by purchasing hydrocodone illegally from drug dealers. Some people may steal hydrocodone from a friend or relative or go to multiple doctors so they can get more than one hydrocodone prescription and therefore obtain additional pills.

Some individuals who abuse hydrocodone may simply take pills by mouth, whereas others may crush them up and snort them, or dissolve pills in water and then inject them into the veins. Regardless of how hydrocodone is abused, misusing this drug or taking it any way other than how it is prescribed by a doctor is dangerous.

Hydrocodone Addiction

Unfortunately, when people abuse hydrocodone, there is a risk that they may become addicted to the drug. This can occur when people develop a tolerance, meaning they need more and more hydrocodone to achieve the same effects. Tolerance can develop even when people take hydrocodone as prescribed. Since the drug is a relatively powerful pain reliever, people may find its effects to be rather pleasurable. As they continue to take the drug, they may need larger doses of hydrocodone over time to achieve the same effects. This can lead to misuse and ultimately addiction.

People can also develop a tolerance when they abuse hydrocodone with the intent of getting high. For instance, some people may use hydrocodone illegally for its euphoric effects and take larger and larger doses of the drug over time. As people build a higher tolerance for hydrocodone, they may also eventually become dependent upon it, meaning they cannot function normally without the drug in their system.

When a person becomes addicted to hydrocodone, he or she will begin to lose control of drug use. This means that the drug may appear to take over a person’s life, and he or she will put himself or others in danger, or take serious risks, in order to obtain more hydrocodone.

Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction

When a person develops an addiction to hydrocodone, the clinical term that addiction professionals use to describe the condition is an opioid use disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders outlines the diagnostic criteria for this disorder.

Some of the criteria are as follows:

  • Using larger doses of hydrocodone than intended
  • Spending a considerable amount of time using or obtaining hydrocodone
  • Giving up important work-related activities or giving up on leisure and socialization because of hydrocodone
  • Continuing to use hydrocodone even when it causes physical or mental health problems
  • Using hydrocodone even when it is physically dangerous
  • Being unable to meet demands at work or home because of hydrocodone
  • Continuing hydrocodone use even when it causes relationship issues
  • Strong hydrocodone cravings
  • Desiring to give up hydrocodone but being unable to do so

Given these symptoms, someone who has an opioid use disorder as a result of hydrocodone may begin to miss work because of drug use and may continue to use despite arguments with a spouse. Other behaviors that meet the criteria for an opioid use disorder may include driving under the influence of hydrocodone or losing friendships as a result of drug use. Additional behaviors could include failing to fulfill parenting duties or spending a large amount of time going to various doctors to get additional hydrocodone pills.

Hydrocodone Overdose

In addition to the fact that hydrocodone can be addictive and lead to a clinical substance use disorder, there is a risk of overdose with this drug. Some users may think that hydrocodone is safer than other drugs since it is a prescription medication, but this is not the case. When taken in too large of a dose, hydrocodone can cause breathing problems, such as labored breathing or long pauses between breaths. In some cases, hydrocodone overdose can cause breathing to stop.

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Other symptoms of hydrocodone overdose include the following, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • Blue Skin
  • Cold, Clammy Skin
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Seizures
  • Extreme Sleepiness
  • Unconsciousness

In some cases, hydrocodone overdose can lead to death, especially if untreated. A life-saving medication called naloxone can block the effects of opiates like hydrocodone and reverse potentially fatal overdose symptoms. Emergency medical personnel can administer naloxone to reverse a hydrocodone overdose, so it is imperative to call 911 immediately if someone begins to display overdose symptoms.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal

Hydrocodone can lead to addiction and overdose, and following long-term use, people are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using hydrocodone. This is because hydrocodone can create a physical dependence, meaning that the body cannot function normally without it. The body becomes adapted to the effects of hydrocodone, so when the drug is no longer active in the body, unpleasant symptoms appear.

According to the World Health Organization, when a person is withdrawing from an opioid like hydrocodone, the following side effects are common:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep Problems
  • Hot or Cold Flashes
  • Sweating
  • Runny Nose
  • Watery Eyes
  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms like Diarrhea, Nausea, or Vomiting

The hydrocodone withdrawal timeline can be expected to last from four to 10 days. Per the World Health Organization, this is the typical length of withdrawal associated with short-acting opiates. Initial withdrawal symptoms tend to appear from eight to 24 hours after a person stops using hydrocodone.

Treatment for Hydrocodone Withdrawal

Since hydrocodone can cause extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, medical treatment is often necessary to help a person through the withdrawal phase. Hydrocodone detox programs can provide people with medical supervision as they undergo withdrawal. In detox, medical staff can treat specific symptoms such as anxiety, diarrhea, or sleep problems and monitor symptoms to ensure that no complications, such as dehydration arise. The goal of opiate detox is to make people as comfortable and safe as possible as they rid their bodies of drugs.

In detox settings, medical staff will often administer an instrument called the Short Opioid Withdrawal Scale, which provides a withdrawal score of mild, moderate, or severe. Those who experience mild withdrawal will likely receive care just to address specific symptoms. When withdrawal progresses to moderate or severe, patients are often given buprenorphine or methadone, which can reduce opiate cravings and provide relief from some withdrawal symptoms.

The FDA also recently approved a medication called lofexidine, which is the first drug marketed specifically for opioid withdrawal. This medication can treat the physical withdrawal symptoms associated with drugs like hydrocodone and may be an alternative to buprenorphine and methadone.

Regardless of the specific medications or treatment protocols used, it is important that those who are addicted to hydrocodone seek professional intervention if they wish to stop using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly uncomfortable and make it very difficult to stop using, but detox programs can make the process more manageable.

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment

While detox programs can help people to cope with initial hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms, it is also necessary to receive ongoing treatment beyond detox. Withdrawing from hydrocodone is only the first step toward stopping the use of this drug. In order to receive lasting sobriety from hydrocodone, it is important to receive psychological or behavioral treatment to address the underlying issues that contributed to addiction.

People who have a severe hydrocodone addiction may attend treatment in an inpatient or residential program, whereas others may be successful in an outpatient program. Regardless of the treatment setting, hydrocodone addiction treatment typically involves a combination of individual and group counseling.

One form of counseling that may be effective for treating hydrocodone addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy. This format of therapy teaches people to replace negative thinking patterns with healthier ways of thinking. For instance, if a person feels that he or she cannot live without hydrocodone, cognitive behavioral therapy can help him or her to explore this belief and formulate more realistic ways of thinking. It can also help people to learn new ways to cope without turning to hydrocodone.

In addition to therapy, it is also relatively common for people to take medication during their recovery from addition to opioids like hydrocodone. This type of treatment, called medication-assisted treatment (MAT) typically involves the use of one of the same medications used in treating withdrawal: methadone or buprenorphine. These drugs can reduce cravings and help people to remain abstinent from hydrocodone.

One study, published in a 2016 edition of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, suggests that the combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy may be especially effective for treating hydrocodone addiction. Study results showed that among people taking buprenorphine to treat prescription opioid addiction, those who also participated in cognitive behavioral therapy were significantly more successful with remaining abstinent from drugs when compared to those not in therapy. Those who are seeking treatment for hydrocodone addiction would therefore benefit from selecting a program that combines cognitive behavioral therapy, or a similar psychological treatment, with medication.

Help With Detoxing From Hydrocodone

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Give yourself or your loved one the best chance at getting sober safely and staying sober by admitting to our Florida hydrocodone detox center. Get help from the caring and experienced medical staff at Compass Detox.

Hydrocodone Use, Abuse, Addiction & Withdrawal FAQs

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Information

While learning about the details of hydrocodone use, abuse, addiction & withdrawal can provide insights into this drug, some people may benefit from the answers to the following frequently-asked questions:

How long does hydrocodone withdrawal last?

The hydrocodone withdrawal time line may vary from person to person, but the World Health Organization reports that opioid withdrawal typically lasts for four to 10 days. An estimate of about a week is probably an appropriate answer to this question.

Can Vicodin withdrawal kill you?

While fatal opioid withdrawal is rare, experts writing for the journal Addiction have cautioned that there have been cases of people suffering from death as a result of opioid withdrawal, because the dehydration that occurs during detox can cause heart failure if untreated.
This is why it is critical to receive professional intervention when withdrawing from opioids like hydrocodone. Even if withdrawal symptoms aren’t fatal, detox programs can provide supportive and medical care to make the withdrawal process less severe.

Does hydrocodone have codeine in it?

Hydrocodone is derived from codeine, but it is a different substance. The two are closely related medications.

Does everyone who uses hydrocodone become addicted to it?

While there is a potential for abuse and addiction with hydrocodone, people can use this medication without becoming addicted. Those who take hydrocodone for short-term pain relief, such as after a surgery or injury, can use the drug as prescribed and never experience withdrawal or addiction.
To avoid addiction, it is important to take hydrocodone exactly as prescribed and to never take higher doses or take it more often than a doctor suggests.

Hydrocodone is a prescription drug with legitimate medical uses, typically prescribed to treat significant pain. Despite being a prescription medication, hydrocodone has the potential to be addictive, and it can even lead to fatal overdoses. Given these facts, it is important to only take hydrocodone under the care of a doctor. Taking a hydrocodone prescription that doesn’t belong to you, using larger doses than a doctor prescribes, or obtaining the drug illegally form a drug dealer are all considered abuse and can lead to a hydrocodone addiction.

If you have been abusing hydrocodone and feel that your drug use has gotten out of control, it may be time to seek professional intervention. If you would like to stop using but feel you are unable to do so on your own, an addiction treatment program can help you to achieve lasting sobriety from hydrocodone.

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