Hydrocodone Addiction & Abuse

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Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone – also sold under the brand names Lortab, Norco, Vicodin and Verdrocet – is an opioid, or narcotic, pain medication that is combined with a non-narcotic painkiller (acetaminophen) and prescribed for moderate to severe pain after a surgical procedures or injury. Opioids can be injected, taken orally via tablets, capsules and syrups, or crushed and snorted.

Prescription opioids such as hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and oxycodone have potentially serious side effects and risks, including overdoses, physical dependence, addiction and death. Currently, prescription drug abuse, which include hydrocodone drug abuse, and opioid overdoses are an epidemic in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and should be dealt with through hydrocodone detoxification and hydrocodone addiction treatment.

Risk Factors

The following characteristics can increase a person’s risk for prescription opioid drug abuse and overdoses, reported Len Paulozzi, M.D., at the CDC:

  • Low income
  • Medicaid enrolled recipients
  • Living in a non-metropolitan area
  • Non-Hispanic whites
  • Males
  • Nonmedical use of prescription opioids
  • Taking high daily dosages
  • History of mental health problems, including substance use disorder, depression, and others

How does hydrocodone work?

Hydrocodone is an opioid, a class of drugs that help to reduce a person’s perception of pain. Opioids work in the body by binding to and activating opioid receptors located in the brain, gastrointestinal tract and other organs, and nervous system, dull pain perception. Prescription painkillers can also induce euphoria because they affect the reward system of the brain.

Side effects

Side effects become more extreme and more damaging the longer a person abuses them. Short-term effects can include some or all of the following:

  • Light-headedness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Respiratory depression
  • Itching and sweating
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Death

Long-term effects

Prolonged use of opiates causes the body to cease production of endorphins – its natural pain defenses. Prolonged use also leads to degeneration of nerve cells. As nerve cells die, users require more of the drug to prevent the onset of debilitating withdrawal symptoms.

Other long-term effects from taking prescription painkillers include:

  • Depression
  • Low levels of testosterone
  • Hyperalgesia (increased pain sensitivity)
  • Tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction
  • Collapsed veins
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • Hallucinations
  • Weakened immune system
  • Coma
  • Death

Hydrocodone abuse

Hydrocodone one of the most widely abused prescription drugs, and is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule II drug, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and dependence. Hydrocodone drug abuse occurs when a person takes the drug for nonmedical reasons, where they take more than prescribed or they may take the drug without a prescription.

People with hydrocodone abuse are more likely to develop tolerance, which means that a higher dose will be needed to feel the effects of the drug, and physical dependence on the drug. Hydrodocone abuse side effects also include an increased risk of more serious side effects as well as take too much get high, which can result in overdose and death.

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Hydrocodone dependence versus addiction

Physical dependence is associated with withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to reduce or stop taking the drug. The cessation of prescription opioid painkillers can lead to a rapid onset of withdrawal symptoms due to physical dependence on the drug, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle/bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills and hot flashes
  • Involuntary leg movements
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Panic
  • Sweating

People who have hydrocodone addiction also have a physical dependence on the drug, withdrawal symptoms and have difficulty stopping the drug. Hydrocodone addiction signs include drug seeking behavior, behavioral changes, and problems in school, relationships, at work or home, all of which become more pronounced as their addiction progresses. People with hydrocodone addiction also spend most of their time and energy to get and use the drug; they spend the rest of the time trying to convince others they do not have a problem.

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment at Sovereign Health

Sovereign Health of California treats patients with opioid use disorders, including hydrocodone abuse and dependence. Our holistic approach and comprehensive treatment programs offer detox as the first step to help patients overcome their addiction to hydrocodone.

Our treatment program at Sovereign Health of California involves an initial evaluation by our highly experienced treatment team. The assessment and evaluation uncover any underlying issues which may contribute to the client’s substance addiction.

A tailored treatment program is designed to meet the needs of the client. Patients are provided with complementary and alternative holistic therapies, designed to ensure our clients receive the absolute best care and support to see them through the completion of treatment and to prepare them for a seamless reintegration into society.

If you would like further information about the treatment of hydrocodone abuse and addiction, please call our 24/7 helpline to speak with a member of our admissions team. We will be happy to assist you.

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