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Hydrocodone is an opioid used to treat pain and as a cough suppressant. It is taken by mouth. Typically it is dispensed as the combinations acetaminophen/hydrocodone or ibuprofen/hydrocodone, for pain severe enough to require an opioid and in combination with homatropine methylbromide to relieve cough.



What Is Hydrocodone Addiction?

Hydrocodone is a Prescription Opioid Painkiller, typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Unlike natural Opiates Morphine and Codeine, Hydrocodone is a semi-Synthetic Opioid. Generally, doctors may decide to write a Hydrocodone (brand name Vicodin®) prescription to treat short-term pain following dental surgery or for injury-related pain. However, due to the addictive nature of Opioids, regular use of Hydrocodone can be habit-forming. Once the body becomes dependent on Hydrocodone to feel normal, trying to quit taking them will result in symptoms of withdrawal. To mitigate withdrawal, individuals should treat their Hydrocodone addiction through detox and rehab.

In as little as five days of prescribed use, the risk for developing a chronic Hydrocodone addiction increases significantly.

Hydrocodone Addiction And Its Effects On The Body

Hydrocodone, like other Opioids, works by binding to pain receptors (known specifically as mu Opioid receptors) in the brain. Once Hydrocodone binds to these receptors, pain signals are weakened or blocked entirely. Mu Opioid receptors are also responsible for the positive reinforcement aspect of drug-taking. Feel-good sensations of euphoria produced by Opioids are likewise introduced here; these sensations encourage people to take the drug again. Often, when people try to quit or reduce the amount of Hydrocodone they’re taking, they discover how dependent their bodies have become on the Painkiller. After repeated use, Opioids’ action in the frontal cortex weaken the individual’s ability to control decision-making and regulate mood.

While Hydrocodone is typically taken orally, some who abuse the drug crush the pills and either snort or inject the powder.

Because most people with a Hydrocodone addiction begin by misusing a prescription given to them by their doctor, it can be difficult to see the signs of addiction. Prescription drug abuse involves taking pills more often than prescribed, continuing to take them beyond their prescribed timeframe, and taking them in a way other than how they were intended (such as snorting or injecting them).

Addiction is diagnosed on a spectrum from mild to moderate to severe. Some signs of Hydrocodone addiction include taking more than intending to and prioritizing drug use over personal or professional responsibilities. As an individual’s tolerance to the effects of Hydrocodone builds, people will need higher doses to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.

Immediate Effects Of Hydrocodone Misuse And Abuse Include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Euphoria
  • Itchy skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Nodding in and out of consciousness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Reduced breathing rate
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting
  • Warm, flushed skin

Long-term abuse of Hydrocodone not only changes the way the brain functions but can have lasting effects on mood and thought patterns. People who have abused Hydrocodone for a prolonged period of time are likely to suffer insomnia, liver or kidney disease, depression, and anxiety. Some mental disorders, like insomnia and depression, can be treated through therapy and medication like Antidepressants. However, damage done to the liver and kidneys is difficult to reverse as well as treat.

Taking too much Hydrocodone can result in an overdose. When the body is unable to process all of the Opioids in its system, breathing and heart rates can plummet. In just a few minutes, someone overdosing on Hydrocodone may stop breathing, depriving their brains of oxygen (also known as hypoxia).

Types Of Hydrocodone

In addition to Vicodin, other brand name versions of Hydrocodone include Norco® and Lortab®. Each iteration contains Hydrocodone and the non-Opioid Painkiller Acetaminophen. Hydrocodone without Acetaminophen is sold under the brand name Zohydro®. Some individuals with a Hydrocodone addiction have a specific brand they prefer, despite all Opioids (including Morphine, Codeine, and Heroin) having similar effects if taken in large enough quantities. Researchers say this type of preference has practical and psychological foundations.


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