Hydrocodone Abuse, Effects, Withdrawal, & Rehab

Hydrocodone abuse can result in several physical and mental health problems, affect your overall well-being, and impair your ability to function.

If you or someone you care about are struggling with hydrocodone addiction, you should know that help is available.

Keep reading to learn more about hydrocodone, the signs of hydrocodone abuse, the symptoms you may experience during hydrocodone withdrawal, and how to seek hydrocodone addiction treatment.

What is Hydrocodone?

prescription bottle for hydrocodoneHydrocodone belongs to the opioid class of drugs which includes prescription medications like oxycodone and morphine and illegal substances like heroin.1

Because it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe psychological and physical dependence, hydrocodone is classified as a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act.2 In its various formulations, including combination products, hydrocodone is primarily indicated for the management of moderate to severe pain.3,4

Hydrocodone interacts with and activates certain opioid receptors in the body and alleviates pain by changing the way the brain and central nervous system respond to pain signals.3 Brand names for hydrocodone include Hysingla and Zohydro ER.3

Is Vicodin Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is the primary active painkiller in several combination formulations that also include analgesics such as aspirin or acetaminophen. One such acetaminophen-containing product is Vicodin (others included Lortab and Norco), though the brand name has been discontinued in the U.S. 4

The combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen is prescribed for conditions including moderate to severe pain and cough.4

Dangers of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

Mixing Vicodin and alcohol can be dangerous. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism warns of the potential for several adverse consequences if you mix alcohol and Vicodin, including:5

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Memory problems.
  • Unusual behaviors.
  • Impairment of motor control, meaning an inability to control and direct your movements.
  • Problems with breathing, which could progress from slowed breathing to respiratory arrest.
  • Increased risk of overdose and death.

What are the Signs of Hydrocodone Abuse?

Some potential signs that a person may be abusing hydrocodone prescribed to them for pain management include:6

  • Seeking multiple prescriptions, reporting lost prescriptions, or calling for early refills.
  • Reports of increasing pain even though their condition doesn’t seem to be worsening.
  • Over-sedation, or appearing sleepy or drowsy.
  • Withdrawal symptoms being present during check-up appointments.

Several signs and symptoms may be characteristic of the compulsive patterns of opioid use seen in people with opioid addiction, or opioid use disorder. Treatment professionals may use these signs and symptoms as diagnostic criteria to give someone who is compulsively misusing hydrocodone an opioid use disorder diagnosis.

Some of these signs and symptoms include:7

  • Taking hydrocodone in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than intended.
  • Wanting to cut down or stop hydrocodone use, but being unable to do so.
  • Using hydrocodone in situations when it’s physically unsafe to do so (such as while driving or operating machinery).
  • Experiencing cravings, or intense urges to use hydrocodone.
  • Experiencing social or family problems due to hydrocodone use.
  • Continuing to use hydrocodone despite having a physical or mental health problem that the person knows is probably due to drug use.
  • Needing to use more frequent or higher amounts of hydrocodone to experience previous effects (tolerance).
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using (dependence).

While the terms tolerance, dependence, and addiction are often used interchangeably, they’re not the same thing.

As mentioned above:8

  • Tolerance means you need to use more of the substance to experience previous effects.
  • Dependence means that your body has adapted to the presence of the drug, at which point you need it to feel normal and to be able to function.
  • Addiction means that a person continues to abuse the substance despite the negative consequences it has on their life. A person can be dependent on a drug without being addicted, but dependence can be present in an addiction diagnosis.

What are the Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal?

If you are dependent on or addicted to hydrocodone, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using it. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can include:7, 8

  • Dysphoric mood.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Muscle and bone pain.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Cold flashes and goosebumps.
  • Fever and sweating.
  • Runny nose and watery eyes.
  • Uncontrollable leg movements.
  • Severe cravings.

Opioid withdrawal is not typically life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable.9 Medically supervised hydrocodone detox can help you stay safe and comfortable as you gradually withdraw from the drug so you can become medically stable to enter formal treatment.

Potential Side Effects of Hydrocodone Use

Hydrocodone has a number of adverse side effects, including:3, 8

  • Confusion.
  • Over-sedation.
  • Nausea.
  • Constipation.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Slowed or difficult breathing.

In addition, abusing hydrocodone and acetaminophen combination products can present a risk of acetaminophen toxicity and serious liver problems.4, 10

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment & Rehab Centers

Abusing prescription hydrocodone can take a serious toll, but treatment for opioid addiction is available and can help you reach sobriety and recovery.

Treatment can begin with a simple visit to a primary care doctor, who may refer you to an addiction specialist, especially if you are exhibiting several of the criteria for an opioid use disorder.

From there, several treatment options are available. Some of the addiction treatments offered at addiction treatment facilities like Oxford Treatment Center include:

  • Medical detox to help you safely and comfortably withdraw from hydrocodone.
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders, such as depression or anxiety.
  • Inpatient residential treatment, where you live onsite and receive 24/7 monitoring and care.
  • Partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatments, which are two types of highly structured outpatient rehab. You live at home but attend treatment onsite. These options are well-suited for people who need extra support but may be unable to commit to an inpatient stay.
  • Outpatient therapy, which provides a certain number of outpatient treatment hours per week. This form of treatment can provide support once you’ve completed other forms of treatment and you’re already well on your way to recovery.

Recovery from a hydrocodone addiction is possible. If you or a loved one are ready to get help, we’re standing by at . Our supportive and knowledgeable Admissions Navigators can guide you through finding a treatment facility that fits your needs.

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