Updated on June 5, 2024
5 min read

Is Hydrocodone Addictive?

Key Takeaways

Addiction is a chronic disease that changes your brain and makes it hard to stop using a substance, even when it causes problems. Hydrocodone addiction specifically means using hydrocodone even though it’s harming your health, relationships, or daily life.

Hydrocodone is a powerful prescription medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. It belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics. Let’s discuss what an addiction to this drug entails.

Is Hydrocodone Addictive?

Yes, Hydrocodone has a high potential for abuse and addiction, which is why it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States.

If you take hydrocodone for too long or in higher doses than prescribed, it can be difficult to stop.

Hydrocodone works by interacting with opioid receptors in your brain and throughout your body. This interaction reduces the intensity of pain signals reaching your brain, changing your perception of pain.

What are Hydrocodone’s Side Effects?

Take note that abuse and addiction can worsen hydrocodone side effects. These effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting: Hydrocodone can disrupt the normal function of your digestive system, leading to nausea and vomiting in some people.
  • Constipation: Opioids can slow down the movement of your bowels, causing constipation, which may be uncomfortable or even painful.
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness: Hydrocodone can affect your blood pressure and balance, sometimes causing dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Sedation: Hydrocodone can make you feel drowsy or sleepy, so you should avoid driving or operating machinery while taking it.
  • Dry mouth: This is a common side effect of many medications, including hydrocodone.
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep: Some people may experience sleep problems like insomnia while taking hydrocodone.

Some people may experience more serious side effects from hydrocodone. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  • Slowed or irregular breathing
  • Mental changes (confusion, mood swings, and hallucinations)
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Severe allergic reactions

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Signs and Symptoms of Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone addiction can manifest through various behavioral, physical, and psychological signs and symptoms. Recognizing these signs early is crucial for seeking appropriate treatment and initiating recovery.

However, remember only your healthcare provider can definitively diagnose hydrocodone addiction. If you suspect you or someone you know is struggling with hydrocodone addiction, consult with a doctor or healthcare professional for a comprehensive assessment and guidance.

Behavioral Signs

Here are the behavioral signs that may indicate a hydrocodone addiction:

  • Compulsive use: Taking hydrocodone in larger amounts or for longer periods than intended.
  • Doctor shopping: Visiting multiple doctors to obtain additional prescriptions or creating fake symptoms to get more hydrocodone.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Failing to fulfill obligations at home, work, or school due to hydrocodone use.
  • Risky behavior: Using hydrocodone in dangerous situations, such as while driving or operating machinery.
  • Social withdrawal: Giving up social, recreational, or occupational activities in favor of drug use.

Physical Signs

Physical signs of hydrocodone addiction may include:

  • Tolerance: Having the need for higher doses of hydrocodone to achieve the same effects due to the body’s adaptation to the drug.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Experiencing physical symptoms when not using hydrocodone, such as anxiety, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Drowsiness and sedation: Feeling excessively sleepy or lethargic, especially shortly after taking the drug.
  • Constipation: A common sign of opioid use, leading to infrequent or difficult bowel movements.
  • Respiratory depression: Slowed breathing, which can be life-threatening in severe cases.

Psychological Signs

Hydrocodone addiction can severely impact a person’s mental health, often leading to intense cravings and a constant desire to use the drug. Those struggling with addiction may experience frequent mood swings, oscillating between euphoria and depression or irritability.

Additionally, cognitive function can be compromised, causing difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and a sense of mental fog. Anxiety and depression often become more prevalent, especially when the drug is unavailable, fueling a vicious cycle of dependence and negative emotions.

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What Are the Treatment Options for Hydrocodone Addiction?

Hydrocodone addiction is a serious condition that requires a comprehensive treatment approach. Your doctor will create a personalized plan based on your needs. This might include medication and therapy, depending on your situation.

Treatment options for hydrocodone addiction include:

Medical Detoxification

Medical detox is often the first step in treating hydrocodone addiction. During this process, the body eliminates the drug, and medical professionals manage withdrawal symptoms to ensure the patient’s safety and comfort.

Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Strong cravings
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Body aches
  • Seizures and coma (severe cases)

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies are crucial in addressing the psychological aspects of addiction. Effective behavioral therapies for hydrocodone addiction include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to drug use. CBT helps patients develop coping strategies and problem-solving skills.
  • Contingency Management: Provides tangible rewards for positive behaviors, such as maintaining sobriety or attending therapy sessions.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): Helps patients resolve ambivalence about quitting drug use and encourages them to commit to treatment.
  • Family and Couples Therapy: Involves family members in the treatment process to improve communication, support, and overall family dynamics.

Rehabilitation Programs

Rehabilitation programs provide structured environments for recovery and can be tailored to the severity of the addiction:

  • Inpatient Rehab: Offers 24/7 care in a residential setting, ideal for severe addiction cases. Programs typically last 30 to 90 days and include medical detox, therapy, and support.
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP): Provide intensive care similar to inpatient programs but allow patients to return home at night.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP): Offer flexibility for patients to attend treatment sessions while maintaining their daily responsibilities. IOPs often include therapy and support groups.

Aftercare and Ongoing Support

Following initial treatment, staying on track requires ongoing support to prevent relapse. Aftercare programs offer a variety of resources to help you do just that.

Sober living homes provide a safe, drug-free environment with the added benefit of peer support and accountability.

Regular therapy sessions, either with a therapist or counselor, can help you address any lingering challenges and solidify the coping mechanisms you learned in treatment.

Finally, continued participation in support groups allows you to stay connected with others who understand your journey and provides a source of ongoing encouragement for your long-term success.

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Updated on June 5, 2024
10 sources cited
Updated on June 5, 2024
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  6. McHugh, R. K., et al. “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders.” The Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 2010.
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