Hydrocodone is available in a wide range of brand names, including but not limited to Norco, Lortab, and Vicodin. Doctors typically prescribe it for the management of chronic pain and aggressive coughing. However, it also comes with a high risk of hydrocodone addiction.
Hydrocodone is classified as a semi-synthetic opioid. It is commonly used for the management of pain relief medication in brand name drugs like Vicodin. The drug is synthesized from codeine and doctors typically prescribe it for the management of moderate to very severe pain. You can also get a prescription for it if you have a persistent cough.
To ensure that it can produce greater relief from pain, the drug is sometimes combined with acetaminophen. However, this drug combination or mixture comes with various dangers, including but not limited to a high risk for liver damage.
Hydrocodone is like all the other opioids in the sense that it carries a high risk of addiction. When you develop this type of opioid use disorder to this drug, you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the drug. At this stage, you will require professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation services before you can overcome the adverse effects and consequences of abusing the medication.
As mentioned above, hydrocodone is an opioid drug. As such, it carries a risk of tolerance, abuse, dependence, and addiction. Whether you are taking it for a valid medical condition after a doctor has written a prescription or you have been abusing it, the drug can cause you to develop psychological and physical dependence.
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If you abuse hydrocodone, you will typically take it orally. However, if you are experienced in your abuse, you may attempt to achieve its desired effects by injecting, smoking, or snorting the drug.
All these alternative forms of substance abuse will typically cause you to experience a stronger high than if you take the drug orally. However, you need to realize that they can all increase your risk of suffering a drug overdose.
The feelings of relaxation and euphoric sensation linked to this drug will usually wear off 3 to 4 hours after you take it. As a result, you may have to take it multiple times in a given day to keep them going as well as to reduce the risk that you will develop withdrawal symptoms.
The effects that arise from abusing hydrocodone include both short and long term side effects. The nature and extent of the negative effects that arise from abusing this drug will largely depend on the duration, dose, and extent of your substance use. They can also be affected by the mixing of drugs that you may have engaged in, if any.
When you take this drug, it will bind to the opioid receptors of the brain. As a result, it will cause you to experience a rush - or a high - as well as diminish any pain sensations that you may be feeling. This rush of pleasurable effects and feelings may also be accompanied by other short term effects, such as:
Hydrocodone is effective in the management of short term pain. However, it also comes with two other significant dangers: negative side effects and addiction. It is important to note that you can become addicted to this pain medication even if you are taking it under the care and instruction of your doctor.
It is also easy to give in to the pleasurable effects of this substance as well as the pain reduction that it causes. Even if you are taking it exactly as your doctor prescribed, the risk of addiction is still there.
Typically, tolerance will be the first sign that you are heading towards a substance use disorder. After using this drug for a given period of time, it will cause you to develop a high tolerance.
When this happens, you will have to take it in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can experience its pleasurable and pain relieving effects. At this stage, your body would have become accustomed to the presence of the drug in the system. This means that you will have to use in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can experience its effects.
Tolerance to hydrocodone develops relatively quickly. In reality, this tolerance will act as a bridge between substance abuse and addiction. If you have been abusing the drug for a given period of time, you will eventually find that your tolerance has been replaced by dependence.
At this stage, your body will start relying on this medication to function normally. When you reach this point in your substance abuse, addiction will set it. Once you have developed hydrocodone addiction, you will find yourself seeking the drug compulsively. This is even though it has already started causing issues in your day to day life.
The more you continue feeding your growing addiction, however, the further you will progress down the path of substance abuse and addiction. Eventually, you will drag your life.
When this happens, you will start experiencing legal issues, job loss, relationship damage, and money problems - among many of the other negative effects of a substance use disorder. At this stage, you will be in a dangerous period of your life where you could easily plummet further into despair, isolation, and mental illness.
But how does hydrocodone addiction occur? Essentially, you will abuse the drug for the euphoric and pleasurable effects - defined as a drug high - that it causes. Today, the DEA - the Drug Enforcement Administration - classified this medication as a schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act passed by the federal government. This effectively means that it has some medical benefits but also comes with a relatively high risk of abuse, tolerance, and addiction.
Although it is addictive, the drug can also lead to the abuse of other mind alternating substances - such as heroin. This is because drugs like heroin are similar to hydrocodone in terms of the effects that they produce. However, they are also more affordable and more widely available. It is important to understand its addictive properties as well as be aware of the various signs and symptoms of the opioid use disorder that it can cause.
The signs and symptoms of hydrocodone abuse and addiction will often include both behavioral and physical effects. When you abuse the drug, you will develop tolerance and physical dependence.
The physical dependence will lead to the development of withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the drug or significantly reduce your dose of it. These symptoms may develop a couple of days after you last took the drug.
That said, some of the typical signs and symptoms of hydrocodone abuse and addiction include:
If you overdose on hydrocodone, you will experience adverse effects and consequences, including but not limited to serious injuries, coma, and even death. The chances that you will survive this drug overdose will be linked directly to the speed at which you receive medical aid.
Typically, this type of overdose will require the administration of Narcan or naloxone. This medication will reverse the respiratory failure that will be caused by your drug overdose. Naloxone usually works quickly. However, the amount that will be needed to reverse your overdose will largely depend on the doses that you took as well as the drugs that are in your system.
That said, the following are some of the common symptoms of a hydrocodone overdose:
In case you suspect that you or someone else is going through a drug overdose involving hydrocodone, you should seek medical attention immediately by calling 911 or your local poisons control board. This is because this drug can cause death.
After developing physical dependence on hydrocodone, you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you do not take the drug altogether or if you take a dose that is lower than your body has become accustomed to.
These withdrawal symptoms are quite uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. They can feed in your compulsive substance seeking and using behaviors - which would be consistent with your growing hydrocodone addiction. They include but are not limited to:
It is also possible to experience withdrawal after using the drug in the short term. This is because you may develop physical dependence to this medication after a couple of days of using it.
However, it is likelier that you will experience these symptoms after using the drug regularly over a couple of weeks. The only way you can safely manage these withdrawal symptoms is through supportive care provided by a qualified addiction treatment and rehabilitation professional.
Since the withdrawal process can be mitigated through medication management using drugs like buprenorphine, methadone, and clonidine, it is recommended that you enroll in a medically supervised detoxification program to get help in overcoming your dependence on hydrocodone
After the medical detox stage, your body would have been cleansed of hydrocodone and all other intoxicating substances that you might have been taking alongside this drug. Although medical detox might not seem necessary, it can go a long way in reducing your risk of relapse. Further, it can increase the chances that you will progress with your addiction treatment modalities.
Since hydrocodone is an opioid, its addiction will require a combination of therapy and medications to treat. Medications like buprenorphine and methadone are effective at managing physical dependence on this drug in a process known as medical replacement or medication management.
During this process, doctors will replace hydrocodone - a potent opioid - with another drug in the same category that will not produce a noticeable high. This method is effective at treating people who have developed high tolerance to opioids.
However, detox and medication management should also be combined with other standard rehabilitation programs, therapy and counseling options, and support groups. Although medications can address the physical dependence and the physical aspects of your substance use disorders, they might not be effective at address the psychological, behavioral, and emotional issues linked to your hydrocodone abuse and addiction.
All these issues have to be dealt with before you can achieve long term and sustained recovery. To this end, the most well-rounded approach to recovery from hydrocodone addiction will require a wide range of interventions.