Hydrocodone can be useful for severe pain, but abuse and addiction can happen swiftly. Hydrocodone is an opioid, which is the class of drugs heroin falls into as well. Over a 10-year period, this powerful opioid has played a large role in the 247,000 overdose deaths from prescription opioids in the U.S. Any use of hydrocodone should be closely monitored by a physician to make sure you’re not developing an opioid addiction. Taking hydrocodone in any way other than prescribed is substance abuse.
What Is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is an opioid drug prescribed for pain management after surgeries, dental procedures, and terminal illnesses. It’s available in extended release / long-acting hydrocodone tablets, and in immediate release formulations as a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Since 2009, hydrocodone has been among the most commonly prescribed opioids in the country. However, because of the opioid epidemic, most physicians only prescribe hydrocodone if a non-opioid pain pill will not provide the needed level of relief.
Brand names for hydrocodone and combination medications include the following:
- Zohydro ER®
Where Does Hydrocodone Come From?
Like other opioids, hydrocodone is derived from the poppy plant. Codeine or thebaine is extracted from the plant and goes through chemical reactions in laboratories to form the semi-synthetic opioid pain reliever.
What Does Hydrocodone Look Like?
Hydrocodone is prescribed in tablets and liquids. Hydrocodone pills look similar but are sometimes different colors. In pill-form, hydrocodone is oval shaped and typically orange, white, or yellow. The milligrams and brand name are imprinted on the pills. Liquid hydrocodone is red or yellow. Illegal hydrocodone looks the same as the prescription form because much of it is diverted from medical use. It may be in a powder form, as people who abuse hydrocodone sometimes crush it to snort.
What Does Hydrocodone Taste Like?
Hydrocodone can taste bitter or have a slight burning sensation in its liquid form. Pharmacies usually mix liquid hydrocodone with a flavoring agent to make the taste better.
What Are Street Names for Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone goes by different names on the streets. Some common ones include:
What Does Hydrocodone Feel Like?
When using hydrocodone medically as prescribed it works on your brain signals to decrease feelings of pain. You may also feel relaxed and content. If abused to get high, hydrocodone can make you feel euphoric and uninhibited. Users report feeling emotionally warm and relaxed.
Though the high feelings from hydrocodone abuse can be pleasant at first, after repeated abuse, these feelings get harder to obtain. You build up a tolerance and need to increase the amount of hydrocodone you’re taking to feel high. With continued abuse, you begin experiencing hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms when you go without the drug. You begin to start taking hydrocodone just to feel normal and not sick.
What Are the Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse?
Effects of hydrocodone depend on how much you take and your individual physical make-up. Most opioids have similar effects in varying degrees when abused. Some hydrocodone effects include:
- Euphoria, relaxation, and emotional warmth
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Dry mouth
- Loss of balance
- Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
- Muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Chest pain
Why Hydrocodone Is Addictive
Hydrocodone and other opioids interfere with your brain’s reward system. They tell your brain to overproduce chemicals that make you feel good, like dopamine. These are also chemicals tied to functions like mood, movement, sleep, learning, and organ systems.
When you abuse hydrocodone, it impacts your central nervous system’s messaging signals and depletes your brain’s natural supply of dopamine. This causes a physical dependence on hydrocodone. You must take it just to produce normal levels of needed brain chemicals, and when you stop taking hydrocodone, your body goes into withdrawal. This is when the body goes into overdrive to try and produce the chemicals on its own again. Trying to stop withdrawal symptoms feeds the addiction cycle.
Signs of Addiction
If you’re concerned that a loved one is abusing hydrocodone, there are behaviors and physical signs that you can look out for. These include:
- Seeing several doctors to obtain different prescriptions (doctor shopping)
- Appearing to fall asleep at inappropriate times (also known as nodding off)
- Mood swings
- Complaining of stomach problems or headaches
- Finding empty pill bottles or medications hidden in odd places
- Acting confused or unsteady on their feet
- Slurred speech
- Flu-like symptoms (withdrawal)
- Problems at school or work
- Changes in appearance like weight loss or looking disheveled
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Changes in sleep habits
If you’ve been using hydrocodone for medical reasons and are concerned that you’re developing an addiction, pay attention to these signs of hydrocodone abuse:
- Constantly thinking about when you’ll take your next doses of hydrocodone.
- Increasing the amount of hydrocodone you take without consulting your doctor.
- Taking hydrocodone in any other way than prescribed.
- Worrying that you’ll run out of hydrocodone and how you’ll get more.
- Considering or actually buying hydrocodone or other opioids illegally.
- Taking hydrocodone to improve your mood or cope with stress.
- Withdrawing from activities you once enjoyed.
- Problems in relationships and at work due to hydrocodone use.
- Feeling you need hydrocodone to function or get through your day.
- Exaggerating symptoms to get more hydrocodone.
- Mixing hydrocodone with alcohol or other drugs to feel a certain way.
Hydrocodone addiction is a serious condition. To overcome opioid abuse, most people need medical detox and behavioral treatment or time in a drug and alcohol rehab center to provide space away from triggers so they can focus on getting better.
How Do People Abuse Hydrocodone?
In legal forms, hydrocodone is prescribed as a liquid or tablet. A physician determines the appropriate hydrocodone dosage and form for your needs. People who use hydrocodone recreationally may take it in its original form. They may also crush hydrocodone tablets and snort them like cocaine or mix them with liquids and inject them like heroin.
How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System?
Hydrocodone typically relieves pain for up to 4 hours, though extended hydrocodone can last up to 12 hours. Hydrocodone may stay in your system for days or months after your last use, and a drug test can detect it. How long hydrocodone can be detected in your body depends on the type of drug test, how much hydrocodone you take, and your physical health. Common drug tests for hydrocodone are hair follicle testing, blood testing, and saliva and urine testing.
Opioid withdrawal and detox are usually not life-threatening, but it can be extremely difficult and painful without medical help. Symptoms of withdrawal will vary from person to person depending on the severity of hydrocodone abuse and individual physical make up. People who try to quit hydrocodone cold turkey without medical assistance are at high risk for relapse because the urge to stop withdrawal symptoms by using hydrocodone can feel overwhelming.
Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Muscle cramps
- Stomach pain
- Runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- The chills
What Are Hydrocodone Overdose Symptoms?
Abusing hydrocodone is dangerous because of the risk of respiratory depression and potential respiratory failure, which can cause coma or death. Hydrocodone addiction treatment and rehab at Vogue Recovery Centers puts you on a path to avoid the consequences of hydrocodone abuse.
Signs of hydrocodone overdose include:
- Shallow breathing
- Significantly reduced pulse
- Constricted or pinpoint pupils
- Slurred speech
- Cold clammy skin
- Muscle weakness
In the event of hydrocodone overdose, an antidote called naloxone can reverse the effects of the opioid. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that causes an immediate opioid withdrawal. If hydrocodone is combined with other opioids, especially fentanyl, a regular dose of naloxone may be ineffective, requiring several doses and more intensive life-saving efforts.
How Dangerous Is Hydrocodone?
In 2014, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reclassified hydrocodone as a Schedule ll drug. This designated it as a controlled substance that has high potential for addiction and abuse.
Hydrocodone abuse puts you at risk for several health issues. Some of these include:
- Heart problems like clogged blood vessels, heart attack, low blood pressure, and heart failure
- Damage to parts of your brain linked to memory, attention, and spatial awareness
- Mental health issues like anxiety and depression resulting from neurotransmitter imbalances
- Organ damage, coma, or death after a hydrocodone overdose
Looking for Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment?
If you or a loved one is misusing hydrocodone, Vogue Recovery Center can help. We provide evidence-based drug addiction treatment that keeps you engaged and motivated in your recovery journey. Our treatment center offers opioid detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient programs.
Vogue’s treatment programs include:
- Individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy
- Dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder
- Trauma-focused treatments
- Drug detox and alcohol detox programs
- Traditional therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Holistic approaches like yoga, mindfulness, EMDR, and art therapy
- Medication-assisted therapy (MAT)
- Inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization program, intensive outpatient program (IOP), outpatient treatment, sober living
- Relapse prevention skills training
- Addiction recovery resources
Call us today for a free, confidential consultation and to verify your insurance. Get started on the road to recovery today.
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