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Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment

Hydrocodone addiction can have dangerous, even deadly consequences. A powerful semi-synthetic opioid painkiller, hydrocodone was one of the prescription drugs that jump-started the opioid epidemic in the late 1990s and early 2000s, taking the lead in prescribed opioids in 2011 with over 136 million hydrocodone prescriptions that year.

Toward the end of 2011, the CDC raised alerts about the number of prescription drug abuse deaths from painkillers, and at that point, the medical community took action to begin prescribing less hydrocodone and other opioids. Still today, opioid overdose deaths are taking thousands of lives every year, and hydrocodone addiction continues to be a dangerous and serious problem.

Signs You’re Addicted to Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone was first engineered to relieve severe pain but comes with side effects of euphoria and high abuse potential. Hydrocodone and its combination formulations containing acetaminophen are currently listed as Schedule II drugs under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). These pain medications were previously Schedule III drugs until October 2014.

Professionals once believed that hydrocodone-acetaminophen combination medicines had a lower potential for abuse because of acetaminophen’s potential to cause liver damage. However, the drug’s euphoric effects proved far more impactful than the potential danger of liver damage from acetaminophen for people who developed an addiction to it.

Hydrocodone abuse often begins with a legitimate prescription for pain. Most people who eventually abuse hydrocodone don’t start out seeking a euphoric high. Rather, there is often a gradual slide into abuse that may begin with one non-medical dosage.

Initial signs of hydrocodone abuse include:

  • Doubling a hydrocodone dose after missing a previous dose.
  • Taking hydrocodone to ease emotional pain or stress.
  • Taking hydrocodone in an unintended manner, such as crushing and snorting pills, or diluting them and injecting intravenously.
  • Using alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other central nervous system (CNS) depressant substances with hydrocodone to enhance its effects.

Those are the beginnings of hydrocodone abuse. Non-medical abuse of hydrocodone or other opioids significantly increases the chances of more intense and dangerous attempts to misuse the drug. Taking hydrocodone any way other than the doctor prescribes is considered substance abuse.

Some examples of drug-seeking behaviors that can develop from initial hydrocodone abuse include:

  • Doctor shopping for more prescriptions.
  • Faking symptoms or pretending symptoms are worse than they are for more prescriptions.
  • Obtaining altered or fraudulent hydrocodone prescriptions.
  • Buying hydrocodone that’s been diverted from pharmacists or doctors.
  • Stealing drugs.
  • Experiencing hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms between uses.
  • Neglecting work, school, and relationships because of substance use.
  • Changes in weight, personal hygiene, and self-care.

New generations of opioid abusers seek a more intense high by combining hydrocodone with other substances like heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. Unfortunately, many who abuse hydrocodone slip further into addiction by transitioning to heroin because it’s easier and cheaper to obtain. Although it is illegal, heroin is available from the inner cities to outer suburbs throughout the country, and it’s cheaper than buying diverted hydrocodone from street level dealers.

How Do You Get Addicted to Hydrocodone?

Even if you take hydrocodone as directed, prolonged use can easily lead to tolerance and dependence, which are not the same as addiction. Although addiction includes both conditions, they are different. Tolerance eventually develops with any mind or mood-altering substance, from nicotine and caffeine to opioids and alcohol. As tolerance grows, you need increasing amounts of the substance to achieve the same effect. For addictive substances like hydrocodone, dependence can develop with continued use. Hydrocodone dependence is also not the same as addiction. Although hydrocodone is not intended for long-term use, some medical conditions require longer periods of opioid therapy, during which time, dependence can develop. Withdrawal symptoms occur if you stop using the drug abruptly. If you’re legitimately prescribed hydrocodone for a long enough time to develop dependence, your physician can safely detox you from the drug by slowly tapering down the doses until a full withdrawal can occur without severe symptoms. A substance use disorder is different because it’s a behavioral change consisting of drug-seeking behaviors and psychological cravings to use more hydrocodone. Although the terms can be interchangeable, addiction is a mental health disorder that carries far more serious consequences than dependence. Some people can take hydrocodone and other opioid painkillers, then stop use without serious consequences or developing an addiction. Others may continue taking opioids to experience their euphoric effects. These drugs are sometimes obtained through:
  • Doctor shopping
  • Buying drugs from online black markets
  • Buying from street-level dealers
Hydrocodone addiction changes your brain. It interferes with the way your reward system works and begins giving you positive feedback for opioid use in similar ways as it does food, sex, and sleep. Your central nervous system sends messages that you need opioids to survive. Once you’re addicted, you begin acting out of character. You’re preoccupied with getting more opioids and it becomes the center of your life. At this point, some painkiller abusers transition to heroin because it’s easier to obtain and develop a heroin addiction. The key sign of any addiction is continuing to abuse drugs and alcohol despite experiencing health issues and other negative consequences.

How Do You Treat Hydrocodone Addiction?

Hydrocodone addiction treatment requires physical and emotional healing. The first step is safely eliminating opioids from your body through medically assisted detox. The second step is to treat the root causes of your addiction and learn healthier coping skills.

Medical Detox

Hydrocodone addiction treatment usually begins with medical detox. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be intense and can easily lead to relapse if you’re attempting to detox on your own in a non-medical setting. If you’re taking the drug with other substances, medical detox is even more important. Some withdrawals like alcohol withdrawal can be very intense and sometimes dangerous because of your physical dependence on the substance.

During medical detox, staff is available around-the-clock to monitor symptoms and administer medications to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms like cravings, insomnia, anxiety, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and agitation can all be managed during medical detox.

Even after detox is over, some symptoms may continue to linger for several weeks or months. These include symptoms like cravings and anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure). In a drug rehab center, they’ll continue to manage these lingering withdrawal symptoms as you move through treatment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Many people with opioid addictions benefit from medication-assisted treatment. These are FDA-approved medications that attach to your opioid receptors and help ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Though they work on your brain in similar ways as opioids, they don’t get you high, and can also help prevent overdose if you relapse.

Addiction Treatment

Just detoxing from hydrocodone without following it with a professional treatment program is a recipe for relapse. If you don’t address the reasons why you abuse substances and learn healthier ways to cope with difficulties, the temptation to use again can overwhelm you. In addiction treatment you’ll explore what you’re trying to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Underlying issues behind addiction often include a combination of the following:

  • Complex trauma and PTSD
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder
  • Unhealthy attachment styles stemming from early relationships
  • Poor self-worth, coping skills, and stress management
  • Grief and loss
  • Misuse of substances in adolescence
  • Socioeconomic factors

Behavioral health professionals will engage you in therapies that have been proven effective in treating substance use disorders and mental disorders like cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), motivational interviewing, acceptance and commitment therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. You may also engage in holistic treatment approaches like art and music therapy, yoga, mindfulness, and other experiential therapies.

Addiction treatment typically includes a blend of individual therapy and group therapy. In one-on-one counseling, you’ll develop a trusting relationship with a therapist and explore topics and feelings related to your addiction. Group therapy provides a safe, accepting space to hear from and share with others who also struggle with substance abuse. Group participants understand what you’re going through.

Substance abuse programs usually provide treatment for co-occurring disorders like mental illness. An addiction treatment program will also introduce you to recovery resources you can lean on after you leave drug rehab like Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery.

There are different levels of care in addiction treatment:

Residential Treatment

You live in a residence with others in treatment. You attend groups and therapy during the day and participate in recovery activities during the evenings before bed.

Partial Hospitalization Treatment (PHP)

A PHP is similar to inpatient treatment, but you live at home or in a sober living residence. You’ll go to the treatment center during the day and leave in the evening.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

This is usually a step-down from residential treatment or a PHP. An IOP can be a critical part of support as you begin the transition back into everyday life. These programs typically meet for 10-15 hours a week and have morning and evening options so you can work, go to school, or attend to family responsibilities.

Outpatient Treatment

When you’re ready to leave an intensive outpatient program, you’ll usually continue attending treatment for one to three hours a week before full independence in recovery without a structured program.

Does Insurance Cover Drug Rehab for Hydrocodone?

Paying for treatment is a concern for many people. Recent health care laws make addiction treatment affordable for many now. Most insurances are required to cover behavioral health treatment like they do other medical conditions. Depending on your plan, you may need to meet a deductible first or pay copays or coinsurance.

Call us for a free benefits check. We will work directly with your insurance to determine your coverage and out-of-pocket costs.

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment at Vogue Recovery

At Vogue Recovery, we provide an inclusive and comfortable environment where you can safely detox from hydrocodone and receive evidence-based therapies and treatments that will help you achieve long-term recovery. We have several treatment options including residential and outpatient programs.

Beginning with your first days at Vogue, a customized treatment and recovery plan will be designed for you, factoring in your unique needs, preferences, and goals.  Using addiction treatment therapies and holistic approaches to heal mind, body, and spirit, our team of professionals will help you build upon your strengths, gain resilience, and acquire the healthy coping skills to change your life and stay sober.

Addiction recovery isn’t easy, but it’s well worth it. We are here for you through every step of the process, including your aftercare planning, so you have continued support along your recovery journey. Your new beginning starts with a free, confidential call to one of our recovery specialists. We’re available to speak with you 24 hours a day. Call us any time for an assessment, referral, or information on how we can help you or a loved one get better.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22786464/
  2. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/hydrocodone.pdf
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p1101_flu_pain_killer_overdose.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2021/20211117.htm
  5. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment
Vaun Williams

Medically Reviewed by Vaun Williams, Psy.D., LPC

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