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Hydrocodone addiction is a compulsive need to take opioid hydrocodone despite harmful effects on health and wellbeing. Also known as Vicodin addiction, this type of opioid use disorder may involve a continuous increase of doses and more frequent intake to achieve the same effects. Addiction is also manifested through other symptoms such as unsuccessful attempts to stop using hydrocodone or engaging in illegal activities to obtain it.
Hydrocodone comes in many forms and combinations with other drugs, but the most common use is in formulation with acetaminophen. This is the well-known Vicodin drug. In most cases, doctors prescribe hydrocodone for the management of moderate to severe pain, but it’s also used in some formulations to treat cough and flu-like symptoms.
Causes of hydrocodone addiction can be biological, psychological, or environmental. Not only do family history and genetics play a role, but a person’s mental health and social circle.
Hydrocodone addiction has a major impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. Its effects can be physical and psychological as well as short- and long-term. A person with hydrocodone addiction experiences a worsening of their physical and mental health. Their relationships suffer as well as productivity at work or school.
Even though hydrocodone addiction has serious withdrawal effects, treatment is possible with a quality program and strong support from family and friends.
Hydrocodone addiction is a type of opioid use disorder (OUD) indicated by misuse and dependence or addiction to prescription medication hydrocodone, usually taken as Vicodin. Hydrocodone addiction is generally a chronic and relapsing illness associated with strong withdrawal symptoms. A person with Vicodin addiction keeps using the drug despite the harmful effects it has on their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Like other opioids, hydrocodone works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, thus blocking pain signals. Unlike other opioids such as codeine and morphine, which are natural, hydrocodone is a semisynthetic opioid. This opioid is habit-forming and has a strong addictive potential.
Causes of hydrocodone addiction can be biological, psychological, social, or environmental. In most cases, it is a combination of different causes that leads to hydrocodone addiction rather than one cause specifically. The causes are listed below:
The effects of hydrocodone addiction can be physical and psychological. The list below elaborates different effects associated with addiction to hydrocodone:
The most common signs and symptoms of hydrocodone addiction may vary from one person to another, but they usually include:
A study from Psychology and Health confirms people quickly develop tolerance to opioids. Other possible hydrocodone addiction symptoms are listed below.
Overcoming hydrocodone addiction requires adequate treatment and professional help. While a person may be tempted to do it on their own, the truth is that opioid addictions are serious and require professional assistance. This is particularly important for the management of withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to professional treatment, overcoming hydrocodone addiction also requires a strong support system. A person with this type of addiction needs family and friends to support them through the recovery process. While it’s important to encourage a person to seek help or continue with the treatment, this should be done in a nonjudgmental manner.
Addiction is a different experience for everyone, so experiences may vary. That’s why people shouldn’t compare their journey to recovery with anyone else’s. What’s important is to find distractions to keep the mind off drug cravings. There are no rules regarding these distractions, as long as they are not unhealthy. Good examples include talking with friends, reading, writing, going for a walk.
One of the most significant aspects of overcoming hydrocodone addiction is avoiding replacement addictive behaviors. For example, it’s not wise to replace hydrocodone with another addictive substance or activity. That way, the process of addiction continues, but the agent is different.
Counseling sessions are also necessary, especially for persons who struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems.
Structure in life is practical because it keeps a person navigated and enables them to stick to healthier habits more effectively. This structure includes regular sleep and wake times, exercise, and even a healthy diet.
The common risk factors for hydrocodone addiction are listed below:
Treating hydrocodone addiction requires a well-structured program that includes detox, medications, and counseling. The first stage of the treatment process is detox, when a person stops using the drug. This is the stage when withdrawal symptoms appear. A person should never attempt detox on their own. In treatment centers detox is medically supervised. Since hydrocodone can induce severe withdrawal symptoms, patients may receive medications. This is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Medications in the treatment of hydrocodone addiction are not used on their own. They are prescribed for a specific period of time and are a part of a program that includes counseling. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), MAT is clinically effective and may lead to improvements in patient outcomes, treatment retention, ability to gain and maintain employment, and also decreases illicit opiate use and other risky behaviors.
For treatment of hydrocodone addiction, a patient may receive medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, or naloxone. Methadone alleviates withdrawal symptoms and supports the detox process, like buprenorphine. These therapies are particularly effective in supporting the addiction treatment process, a study from the Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience confirms. Naltrexone is used in relapse prevention, whereas naloxone is an antidote to opioid overdose.
Besides these medications, patients could also receive prescriptions to manage sleep patterns or underlying mental health problems.
The core of hydrocodone addiction treatment is counseling. Persons with hydrocodone addiction may need long-term counseling in order to support their recovery, identify triggers behind drug abuse, prevent relapse, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. The most common type of therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches patients to identify negative thoughts and behavior patterns and replace them with positive alternatives. A study from Drug and Alcohol Dependence confirmed CBT is an effective approach toward the treatment of opioid use disorder.
Counseling also helps heal and rebuild relationships, helps patients understand the science of addiction and learn coping skills and techniques, and develops relapse prevention plans. In hydrocodone addiction treatment, patients have individual as well as group, family, and couples therapy sessions.
Hydrocodone addiction treatment is provided in an inpatient and outpatient setting. Inpatient or residential programs are most suitable for persons with moderate to severe addiction. These programs last for 60 to 90 days or more and include medically supervised detox, therapy sessions, and living in the facility or treatment center throughout the treatment process.
Outpatient programs involve therapy and counseling sessions, but patients live at home. These programs are intended for persons with a mild addiction, but also serve as a supporting technique for individuals who have completed a residential program.
Using hydrocodone is addictive because it is an opioid. Hydrocodone is a semisynthetic derivative of codeine or thebaine, natural alkaloids that derive from poppy seeds. The drug is usually combined with other compounds. One of the most common forms is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone is also used, in some formulations, to treat cough and other flu-like symptoms.
The most significant advantage of hydrocodone is its efficacy in relieving pain. Disadvantages include a higher risk of side effects and its addictive potential.
Like other opioids, hydrocodone activates the reward center in the brain and changes the way your brain processes pain and pleasure. The drug can trigger the release of dopamine and endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters muffle pain perception and intensify feelings of pleasure. As a result, they create a temporary but powerful sensation of wellbeing.
When a dose wears off, a person is usually left wishing they could experience the same thing again. This could lead to misuse of hydrocodone and increase the risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction according to Mayo Clinic. All this happens because hydrocodone induces a feeling of euphoria that is more powerful or intense than good feelings occurring naturally.
Hydrocodone addiction counseling is necessary when the drug use becomes more frequent or when a person needs higher doses to experience the same effect. The exact time period here doesn’t exist primarily because every person is different and may experience problematic use differently.
Generally speaking, one doesn’t have to be addicted to seek counseling. Starting counseling sessions when signs of misuse appear could prevent more complicated scenarios. These signs could include using hydrocodone beyond the prescribed timeframe or willingness to change doctors of pharmacies to get more prescriptions.
Sometimes, the affected person is reluctant to admit they have a problem. In these situations, a strong support system is crucial, according to the CDC. Everyone can play a role in a person’s recovery from hydrocodone addiction by encouraging them to get counseling and supporting them through the treatment process.
To sum up, counseling is necessary when a person starts misusing hydrocodone as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of addiction. However, counseling is also an important segment of the hydrocodone addiction treatment process as it helps patients improve mental health and address triggers that promote risky behaviors such as drug abuse.
Symptoms of hydrocodone addiction withdrawal include drug cravings, mood swings, anxiety and depression, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, and nausea and vomiting. Some withdrawal symptoms resemble those of flu or cold and may include runny nose, chills, and goosebumps. Hydrocodone withdrawal may also manifest itself through sweating, sleep problems, abdominal cramping, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and diarrhea.
In most cases, the hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms last five to seven days. Generally speaking, symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal tend to start between six and 12 hours after the last dose. The symptoms peak within 72 hours. While they usually last around a week or longer in some people, emotional withdrawal symptoms may be present longer than a month. These include cravings too.
The precise timeline of hydrocodone addiction withdrawal symptoms depends on the length of addiction, dosage, and exact formulation taken. The longer hydrocodone is taken, the more severe withdrawal symptoms could get. Additionally, psychological factors such as neuroticism and the degree of distress expected by the patient also influence the severity of withdrawal symptoms, according to a study from the British Journal of Psychiatry.
In the treatment of hydrocodone addiction, withdrawal symptoms take place in the detox stage, the first step of the whole process. The detox stage is medically supervised, and some patients may receive medications that reduce the severity of their withdrawal symptoms.
Hydrocodone lasts 18 to 24 hours in the body. The exact timing varies depending on personal factors and the tested area of the body. For instance, hydrocodone in the blood peaks 1.3 hours after ingestion and is detectable for up to 24 hours. In the urine, traces of hydrocodone are present two to four days after taking the drug, whereas the opioid is detected for 12 to 36 hours in saliva. Traces of hydrocodone in the hair are detectable for up to 90 days.
Personal factors that influence how long hydrocodone can stay in the body include age, genetics, dosage, and frequency of intake. Younger users tend to process hydrocodone faster than older adults. Generally speaking, the higher the dosage, the longer it remains in the body. How often a person takes hydrocodone also plays the role here.
Other factors that influence how long hydrocodone remains in the body include body fat content, liver health, body mass, and the presence of other medications or substances in the body.
Statistics about hydrocodone addiction aren’t as elaborate as they are for other substance use disorders, but they still show how prevalent it is. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 3.3% or 9.3 million people reported misusing prescription pain medications in the last 12 months. The same report also indicates that about 0.8% or 2.3 million people aged 12 or older had a prescription opioid use disorder in the last year. In 2020, around 16,416 people died due to overdose involving prescription opioids.
While these numbers aren’t about hydrocodone specifically, it’s important to mention that hydrocodone is one of those prescribed opioid pain relievers. For example, a study from Substance Abuse that looked into opioid prescribing behavior and overdose fatalities in Texas found that hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed opioid. In fact, around 32.9% of all opioid prescriptions accounted for hydrocodone.
Tendency to over-prescribe opioids such as Vicodin contributes to the widespread addiction problem. For instance, hydrocodone prescriptions jumped from 116 million in 2006 to 131 million in 2011.
Addiction to opioids, including hydrocodone, is most prevalent in persons in their mid-20s to mid-30s. Unfortunately, at this point, there are no official statistics that focus on hydrocodone addiction primarily.
Hydrocodone addiction harms a person’s life in many ways. Besides poorer health outcomes, hydrocodone addiction can lead to strained relationships problems with work, and many persons also face legal issues because they engage in risky or illegal activities to obtain the drug.
Hydrocodone is often used in combination with other medications. Different types of hydrocodone are listed below:
Hydrocodone is usually combined with other compounds. Some of the most significant types of hydrocodone include:
Hydrocodone addiction is treated in rehabs where patients receive medical supervision and a well-structured program that enables them to start and maintain the recovery process. Hydrocodone rehab centers also treat other forms of opioid addiction and substance use disorders. They provide detox and inpatient programs, but many of them also have outpatient programs too.
Numbers show the number of residential treatment programs in the United States is over 14,809. A lot more of them are available across the globe. When it comes to hydrocodone rehab centers, it’s important to choose the one whose programs can address the unique needs of a patient and the severity of their addiction.
The relation between hydrocodone and Xanax is that both medications can slow down the activity of the central nervous system. Xanax can enhance the effects of Vicodin and make it even more dangerous. The fast-acting tranquilizer alprazolam, known as Xanax, belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, whereas hydrocodone is an opioid that relieves pain. Combining these two drugs can cause serious consequences and can cause dependence on both drugs which can lead to Xanax addiction or hydrocodone addiction.
The American Journal of Therapeutics published a case study involving a 23-year-old man who combined Vicodin and Xanax. The man experienced bradycardia and developed a second-degree atrioventricular block.
Bradycardia is a slower than normal heart rate whereas second-degree atrioventricular block is a disorder indicated by delay, disturbance, or interruption of the conduction of atrial impulse to ventricles. This is a major problem because it causes further complications such as sudden loss of consciousness and makes the heart stop beating.
Even though Xanax and hydrocodone are two different classes of medications, they are both addictive. The addictive potential and risk of side effects are a lot higher when these drugs are taken together. Combining these medications increases overdose risk. A person is also more likely to need emergency medical care. The most significant adverse reaction of combining these medications is slow breathing.