What is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is an opioid medication used as a pain reliever and a cough suppressant. This drug is used to treat patients in need of severe pain relief medication that cannot be offered by other medications.
As an opioid drug, hydrocodone affects how the brain functions and with that, it has a high risk of abuse. Despite this, it is labeled as controlled in schedule II of the Controlled Substance Act and used as medication.
Prescription opioids, such as hydrocodone, can help block and regulate moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone attaches to mu-opioid receptors in the brain and forces a relaxed and happy feeling, or ‘high’ however, drug abuse can lead to a hydrocodone addiction.
You may be wondering, ‘If opioid treatments are highly addictive, then why are they prescribed?’ There are many medical situations or health conditions that may leave a patient in a position of suffering through chronic or acute pain such as surgery, cancer, or trauma.
Why is Hydrocodone Prescribed?
There are many conditions that cause hydrocodone to be prescribed despite risks for hydrocodone dependence and dangerous side effects. Hydrocodone provides relief for these unbearable situations.
Prescription painkillers are important to allow an individual to manage incessant pain and better avoid depression, anxiety, or insomnia. Hydrocodone most often works in conjunction with other drugs to best suit and help an individual.
Treatment for Severe Pain
There are many reasons that can cause this chronic and acute pain to arise within an individual.
Hydrocodone and other prescribed medicines are available to help these individuals manage their moderate to severe pains.
Chronic vs Acute
When it comes to chronic and acute pain, they each have their own pain signals.
Acute pain is usually a sudden sharp sensation. This can be a warning of disease or threat within the body. It is a short term pain that goes away when the cause of it goes away.
Chronic pain is long lasting, defined as lasting longer than three months past the point of recovery. It can cause physical difficulties such as fatigue, tightened muscles, or altered appetite as well as emotional difficulties such as depression, anxiety, anger, fear of re-injury, or insomnia.
What are Combination Drugs?
A combination drug is just as it sounds. A combination of two or more drugs that are processed, combined, or mixed to produce the finished mix in a single drug. Combination drugs are made to help regulate and overcome issues such as health illness, health risks, and mental disorders.
Hydrocodone is most often used alongside other drugs such as acetaminophen – one brand name of acetaminophen being Tylenol® – to better support the relief of pain. Acetaminophen, alone, is utilized typically for mild pains such as headaches or muscle aches.
Hydrocodone combination products, as well as combination drugs in general, use other substances to create a synergy with how it affects and supports problems within the body. They are made to properly assist with multiple ailments. It is rare for pure hydrocodone to be prescribed.
Hydrocodone Addiction and Drug Abuse
Hydrocodone abuse is one of the main concerns with this drug. High doses of hydrocodone are used over long term use with the drug in accordance to a tolerance towards the drug.
With a slow increase in dosage, the dangers of addiction are lessened, but an individual may become dependent upon the drug. The signs of hydrocodone abuse and substance abuse in general may appear as the following:
- Risk taking when you’re using, such as driving, having unprotected sex
- Neglecting responsibilities at school, work, or home
- Legal trouble, such as arrests for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence
- Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
- Changes in appetite, sleep patterns, physical appearance
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing, or impaired coordination
- Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
- Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
- Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
- Unexplained change in personality or attitude
- Sudden mood swings, irritability, spaced-out, or angry outbursts
- Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason
Hydrocodone Side Effects
Many medications that are used for treating patients can come with unwanted side effects. It is important to speak with your doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms do not go away or feel drastic.
Some of the common symptoms of hydrocodone use include:
- Stomach pain
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Back pain
- Muscle tightening
- Difficult, frequent, or painful urination
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Foot, leg, or ankle swelling
- Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
There are also more severe symptoms of hydrocodone use. It is detrimental to get help immediately if you or a loved one experience any of the following symptoms.
- Chest pain
- Agitation, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), fever, sweating, confusion, fast heartbeat, shivering, severe muscle stiffness or twitching, loss of coordination, or diarrhea
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, or dizziness
- Inability to get or keep an erection
- Irregular menstruation
- Decreased sexual desire
- Swelling of your eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Changes in heartbeat
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
What Does a Hydrocodone Overdose Look Like?
Hydrocodone addiction can lead to life-threatening circumstances. Someone experiencing a hydrocodone overdose may experience the following symptoms.
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle weakness
- Cold, clammy skin
- Narrowed or widened pupils
- Slowed heartbeat
- Unable to respond or wake up
How Does Someone Overdose on Hydrocodone?
Taking in more than the prescribed amount can lead to an overdose. This can happen accidentally such as forgetting you have already taken the medication or it can be purposeful with the intent of abusing this drug.
Being aware of the type of drug used can help in the case of an overdose. The more proper information able to be given to the helpline, the faster someone can help. Call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222.
There is also information online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the situation is more severe with symptoms like a seizure, trouble breathing, or unable to wake up, call 911 immediately for emergency help.
Naloxone is important to have for life-threatening situations. Having naloxone can reduce the risk of losing a life due to overdose and life-threatening situations. Naloxone can stop the effects of hydrocodone as it blocks the mu-opioid receptors from being used.
How Does Someone Become Addicted to Hydrocodone?
Considering hydrocodone is an opioid drug, it is highly addictive and habit-forming. Hydrocodone changes the body’s proper and basic functions creating a dependence and necessity for using the drug to function.
Substance use disorders also make becoming addicted to Hydrocodone much easier. Mental health is a major part of addiction and there are many individuals that are unaware of issues they may be struggling with.
Admitting addiction is one of the hardest parts of the struggle, but it is the first step to recovery. The signs of an addiction are listed as:
- Opioids are often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control opioid use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the opioid, use the opioid, or recover from its effects.
- Craving, or a strong desire to use opioids.
- Recurrent opioid use resulting in failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home.
- Continued opioid use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of opioids.
- Important social, occupational or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of opioid use.
- Recurrent opioid use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
- Continued use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by opioids.
- Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: (a) a need for markedly increased amounts of opioids to achieve intoxication or desired effect (b) markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of an opioid.
- *Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: (a) the characteristic opioid withdrawal syndrome (b) the same (or a closely related) substance are taken to relieve or avoid withdrawals.
Substance Use Disorder
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a substance use disorder is a mental disorder that affects an individual’s inability to control their use of substances such as hydrocodone, codeine, or heroin.
Individuals with this disorder are at a higher risk of becoming addicted. This increased risk is important to be aware of to best support recovery.
Mental Health Disorders
One factor of a substance use disorder could mean there is an underlying mental health issue. An individual is roughly half as likely to have an underlying mental disorder when faced with substance use disorders.
The sad truth of the matter is many of these individuals have struggled throughout their lives struggling with their life experiences due to not knowing of mental issues they have. They search for poor ways to cope and manage their experience which can result in addictions.
By reaching out and getting help, an individual can better understand themselves. There is typically therapy and mental health assistance on-site at treatment facilities.
Hydrocodone Withdrawal: The Basics
Nobody wants to experience withdrawals, but enduring and managing them is a step to recovery. Since hydrocodone is an opioid drug, the withdrawal from it is not much different from opioid withdrawal.
Withdrawals from hydrocodone, separate from external circumstances, are typically painful and discomforting but not life-threatening.
Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms
Depending on the amount the drug that was used and the frequency that it was used determine how severe withdrawal can be. Withdrawal symptoms can start within 12 hours of usage.
After stopping the hydrocodone, some early withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Increased tearing
- Runny nose
Some later withdrawal symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment Options
The good news is, that there is help available. Find Addiction Rehabs can assist with finding what an individual needs at their stage in recovery.
It is important to check for mental illnesses to best avoid relapse. Being aware of underlying conditions, treatments, as well as the individual themselves, are able to better manage the recovery.
Treatment centers can provide proper care and support such as behavior therapy, emotional therapy, support groups, and medical assistance.
A medical detox cleanses the body of a drug and helps the body remove its dependence on that specified drug.
The effects of hydrocodone addiction on the body are not as severe or life-threatening as other opioid medicines. With hydrocodone, medical detox can help to best support and alleviate difficulties with recovery, however, a detox is not always required.
Finding Opioid Rehabs and Help With Hydrocodone
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, it can be causing great mental, emotional, or physical pain. It is important to find the right help for you. At Find Addiction Rehabs, we offer confidential help in regard to addiction treatment options.
Whether finding a treatment center in your location or connecting you with recovery tools and resources, our hotline is available 24/7 to make sure you can get the help you need, anytime you need it.
The first step of recovering from addiction is acknowledging it is a problem in your life. Take the next step and call us to get help today!
Charles F. has been an active part of the Florida recovery community for over 5 years. He began as a behavioral health technician at an addiction treatment facility in Ocala, Florida and has since begun training as a Licensed Addiction and Chemical Dependency counselor in Boca Raton. Charles’ passion involves the promotion of recovery and helping spread the hope of recovery to as many readers as possible!