A prescription painkiller commonly given after injury or surgery, hydrocodone is a highly effective opiate medication. Hydrocodone is the main ingredient in brand name drugs like Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab, boasting powerful pain relief that has unfortunately lead to a recent increase in use both medically and recreationally. Due to the strong high that comes from even a small dose, addiction is extremely common, with over 20 million opioid addicts in the U.S. alone in 2015.
The Biology of Hydrocodone Addiction
Hydrocodone falls into a class of drugs known as opiates that are able to respond to opioid receptors in the brain. When a user takes a dose, hydrocodone binds to these receptors, preventing the release of pain signals. This mechanism affects the central nervous system, effectively blocking sensations of pain throughout the body.
Instead of feeling pain, users generally feel euphoric and relaxed, a pleasant combination that can lead to repeated doses over a short period of time. While thought to be harmless by many users, even moderate use of opiate drugs can cause physical and mental dependency as the brain acclimates to the continued presence of pleasurable sensations.
In order to prevent abuse, hydrocodone is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance and is only legally available with a doctor’s prescription. Despite this, many users are able to purchase medications containing hydrocodone on the street or from online pharmacies for the sole purpose of getting high.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
For most hydrocodone abusers, the habit begins with legal usage prescribed for a medical purpose. Over time, tolerance builds, creating an intense need for greater doses of hydrocodone on a regular basis.
Those addicted to hydrocodone may show numerous physical and behavioral signs, including:
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
Nausea and vomiting
Drowsiness and fatigue
Slow or shallow breathing
Drug seeking behaviors, like lying and theft
Coma or death
The short-term symptoms of addiction can be a warning sign but long-term use is even more problematic, threatening overall health. With extended use, patients may suffer negative consequences like:
- Liver damage
Treatment & Recovery from Hydrocodone Addiction
Recovery from hydrocodone addiction is a road best traveled with assistance. While it is theoretically possible to recover from an opioid addiction without help, this can be very dangerous.
In order to facilitate a healthy recovery, those addicted to hydrocodone are encouraged to take part in an inpatient medical detox and rehabilitation program. This treatment is overseen by doctors and nurses, providing a secure environment under strict medical supervision. Medical staff can address withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, muscle and joint pain, fever, cold flashes, and sweating, guaranteeing a safe and protected atmosphere in which to break the cycle of addiction.
In addition to medical supervision, patients in a rehab facility can also benefit from counseling with trained addiction therapists. Offered in both individual and group settings, speaking with a specialized psychologist can help substance abusers identify root causes of addiction, work through challenges in life, and harness negative energy into a healthier outlet. From peer support to professional intervention, inpatient treatment can support you as you move beyond substance dependency.
Conclusions About Hydrocodone Addiction
Despite the benefits of hydrocodone when used in a clinical setting, falling into the trap of addiction is far too easy. If you or someone you love shows signs of addiction, getting help right away is critically important. With proper assistance from medical professionals, it’s possible to reclaim a life of sobriety.