Hydrocodone is one of the most prescribed medications in the United States. It is sold under a variety of brand names including Vicodin, Lortab, Hycomine, Lorcet, and Vicoprofen. Hydrocodone is a moderately strong opioid drug that is commonly used to relieve chronic pain. However, many patients who have been prescribed this medication misuse it to get a fast, euphoric high much like that produced by heroin. Some people also become addicted to hydrocodone and then move on to cheaper, more readily available street drugs like heroin and fentanyl.
Even if you or a loved one has a doctor’s prescription for hydrocodone, you can develop a tolerance to its effects with consistent or heavy use. This means you may need a higher dose to get the relief you once did. Once tolerance develops, dependence and addiction can quickly follow. When this happens, it’s imperative that you enter a hydrocodone detox facility and get started on the road to recovery.
How Hydrocodone Can Be Abused
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration classifies hydrocodone as a Schedule II Controlled Substance because it has a high potential for abuse. Despite its usefulness, it contributes to the ongoing opioid epidemic in the country.
People can abuse hydrocodone by taking it when it’s not prescribed for them, purchasing it from drug dealers, or taking more than was prescribed. Some people steal it from friends or relatives who have prescriptions or doctor-shop. The latter is the practice of going to multiple doctors and complaining of pain in an effort to get multiple prescriptions.
Abuse isn’t only about the way a person sources hydrocodone. Crushing the pills and snorting the powder or dissolving them in water and injecting them into a vein is also abuse. Anytime you use hydrocodone in a way that’s not prescribed by a doctor, it is considered abuse, and it is highly dangerous. Abuse increases the likelihood of addiction.
Why Opioid Addiction Develops
When hydrocodone or any other opioid enters the brain, it releases more dopamine and causes a sense of euphoria or well-being. With repeated and/or heavy opioid use, the brain no longer produces sufficient chemicals on its own and it relies on the drug to function. This is called drug dependency. If you are dependent on hydrocodone, you will feel sick if you stop using it or reduce your usage considerably.
Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction
If a person is addicted to hydrocodone, they may be anxious, depressed, confused, or disinterested in activities they once enjoyed. They may also find it difficult to concentrate and:
- Make frequent visits to the doctor or see multiple doctors
- Be secretive about the fact that they’re taking the drug
- Hide pills in their car or various parts of the home
- Exaggerate the extent of an injury or the amount of pain they’re in
- Display mood changes and angry outbursts
The individual may also skip work or neglect familial responsibilities and continue using hydrocodone even if it leads to arguments with their loved ones. In addition, they may drive while high or become involved in criminal activity just so they can get their hands on more pills. If you suspect a loved one is battling an addiction to Vicodin or another form of hydrocodone, you need to stress the importance of detox from hydrocodone addiction.
The Risk of Hydrocodone Overdose
One of the dangers posed by the misuse of hydrocodone is the possibility of overdose. Some people think prescription drugs are safer than illicit substances but this is not true. Taking too much hydrocodone can lead to breathing difficulties. You can even stop breathing completely. Symptoms of hydrocodone overdose include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Slow heart rate
- Extreme sleepiness
- Blue skin
- Cold, clammy skin
Without prompt treatment, overdose can lead to death. If you believe you’ve taken too much hydrocodone, you should call 911. The same applies if you notice signs of overdose in someone else. Naloxone can be administered to block the effects of the drug and reverse the overdose.
Overdosing on hydrocodone is a clear sign that an individual has problems with drug use and would benefit from entering a hydrocodone detox program. Experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms is a natural part of the detoxification process.
Hydrocodone Detox and Withdrawal Symptoms
If a person has developed a physical dependence on hydrocodone and they stop taking it, their body will go through withdrawal. These symptoms occur whether they simply can’t get access to the drug or if they’re intentionally going through a formal detoxification program.
Hydrocodone detox side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Aches and pains
- High blood pressure
- Increased heartbeat
- Stomach aches and diarrhea
These symptoms can be severe but they don’t have to be. To ensure you’re as safe and comfortable as possible during the withdrawal process, you should enter a facility that offers medically supervised hydrocodone detox. This will make detoxification a lot easier to bear and ensure that you don’t endure unnecessary pain and discomfort.
A General Hydrocodone Detox Timeline
How long does hydrocodone withdrawal last? This is a common question from people who are about to experience hydrocodone detox. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question since each individual is different. However, hydrocodone has a half-life of around four to six hours so it’s usually in the body for less than 24 hours. This means it takes four to six hours for the amount of hydrocodone in the body to be reduced by half.
Physical withdrawal symptoms can begin within just a few hours of the last dosage. Nausea, abdominal pain, and muscle aches usually come on within a day or two. The symptoms usually peak within the first five days and you may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating.
Several factors affect the timeline including your age, weight, height, genetics, metabolism, and overall health. The frequency with which you used hydrocodone and the amount you took also play a role.
Anxiety, irritability, mood swings, and other psychological symptoms can continue for a month or longer, even after physical symptoms are gone. You will likely still get an urge to use hydrocodone again. This is why you need to go to rehab after detox and continue professional treatment for some time after you stop using.
What Happens During Hydrocodone Detox?
Have you been asking “how do you detox from hydrocodone?”. If you or a loved one is addicted to hydrocodone, you will naturally want to know what happens during the process. Detox is challenging but it is a crucial step in the recovery process. The only way you can overcome a substance addiction is to stop using the drug and allow your body to heal. This is uncomfortable but doctors and addiction professionals can keep you safe and comfortable.
Some people try detoxing from hydrocodone at home by quitting cold turkey. This is a dangerous approach since there is no clinical or psychological support. Abruptly stopping the use of hydrocodone and trying to take care of yourself is strongly discouraged.
Rapid detox is another option but it is also highly risky. It involves putting the patient under anesthesia while they go through the usual physical withdrawal symptoms. One study found that the majority of patients who underwent rapid detox had a setback within six months. Also, a 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that six people died partly due to such a program.
In most cases, the best solution is to undergo a medically supervised detox program that takes place over a period of time. The program should be customized to cater to the specific needs of each patient so as to improve the likelihood that they complete treatment and stay clean over the long term.
The Short Opioid Withdrawal Scale
After you enroll in hydrocodone detox, the medical team will monitor your condition and give you medication and psychological support as you go through the various hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms.
To assess how the withdrawal process is going, they may use the Short Opioid Withdrawal Scale to track your symptoms. They will ask you to rate your experience with the ten most common withdrawal symptoms on a scale of zero to three. Zero means the symptom isn’t present while three means the symptom is severe. Your ratings for each symptom will be added up and the score will be used to inform the type of treatment you get.
A score between zero and ten is considered mild withdrawal and you’ll be given medication as needed to manage your symptoms. If you get a score between 10 and 20, this is considered moderate withdrawal. You may have the option of using medication just to manage your symptoms or taking opioid drugs to reduce your hydrocodone cravings. Your withdrawal is severe if your score is between 20 and 30 and the medical team will likely prescribe opioid medications to reduce your need for hydrocodone.
You’ll likely be given clonidine if you just need help managing your symptoms. This reduces nausea, vomiting, cramps, sweating, and diarrhea. However, if you need opioids, you may be given buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone.
What Happens After Hydrocodone Detox?
It’s important to be aware that detox isn’t a magical cure for addiction. Entering a detox program allows you to rid your body of hydrocodone in a safe environment. However, coping with the acute withdrawal symptoms is only the start of the process. You need to learn how to identify triggers and manage cravings on an ongoing basis. To stay clean over the long term, you also need to understand what led to your addiction. You’ll gain all these skills by taking part in therapy.
If your hydrocodone addiction is severe, you should enroll in an inpatient or residential hydrocodone detox program. However, you may get the help you need in an outpatient program if you have a mild addiction. Regardless of the setting in which you get your treatment, you’ll likely benefit from individual and group counseling as well as other interventions.
Many people struggling with hydrocodone addiction undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy teaches you how to let go of negative thinking patterns and embrace healthier ways of thinking. Addiction changes the way the brain functions but with therapy, you challenge your beliefs and learn how to cope with using hydrocodone.
It is also common for medications like methadone or buprenorphine to be used during the recovery process and not just during acute withdrawal. Medication-assisted treatment can reduce your cravings for hydrocodone and help you to remain abstinent.
Some research has shown that a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy brings about better results than medication alone. If you’re seeking treatment for hydrocodone addiction or any other opioid addiction, you should look for a detox facility that offers both types of treatment.
Talk to Our Knowledgeable Team About Hydrocodone Detox!
Opioid addiction can develop quite easily but it can be very difficult to fight. At Divine Detox, we offer medically supervised hydrocodone detox. This helps individuals to manage the physical symptoms without experiencing unnecessary discomfort or pain. We can also provide therapy and psychological support to make the mental effects easier to bear. Your treatment will be evidence-based and structured around your needs.
Some people who are addicted to hydrocodone or other opioids try to detox at home on their own. Most of the time, they relapse within 48 hours because the hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are too much to bear. This isn’t because they’re weak or not committed to their sobriety. It’s simply that opioids are highly addictive and quitting without medical support is extremely difficult. Even though withdrawal is challenging, the outcome is worth it.
No one should ever try to undergo hydrocodone detox on their own. Since opioid addiction is a medical condition, it is usually covered by health insurance. Contact our dedicated team today to get more information about how you can get treatment for hydrocodone addiction.