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Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment: The Vital Steps

Written by Opiates | Published on September 5, 2020 | Updated on September 7th, 2020,

Something that starts so innocently can suddenly become a horrible addiction. You were injured at work or had knee surgery. The doctor prescribes some Vicodin to help you manage the pain.

And you feel really good when you take it. So, you keep taking it, even beyond when you really need it. Suddenly, you have a real problem. You are facing a struggle with hydrocodone addiction.

Between 1999 and 2018, some 450,000 people died from opioid overdoses, some from legal prescriptions other from illicit drugs falling under this class of drug. The addictive nature of this category of drugs has created a generation of drug problems across the country.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a hydrocodone addiction, read on to learn about the addiction and the steps for treatment.

What Is Hydrocodone?

You might recognize you or a loved one has a problem and not really know if it’s a hydrocodone addiction. Hydrocodone or Vicodin is part of a  family of opioid painkillers. There is a variety of hydrocodone containing drugs prescribed and sold. You might recognize them by one of these brand names:  Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, Norco, Zydone, or Hycet.

Doctors will prescribe a version of one of these drugs for its effectiveness in managing pain. Often a patient who has had pain after undergoing surgery, serious injury, or a disease like cancer will be given a prescription for hydrocodone.

Once the addiction kicks in, patients who want more and can’t get it from their doctor resort to the street versions of the drug to get their high.

What Happens in the Brain From This Drug?

When a person takes an opioid, like Vicodin or Norco to relieve pain their brain gets a euphoric sensation. The pain is relieved and you feel calm, relaxed, even happy. In theory, the drug works well to manage pain.

The problem becomes when you take the drug for too long. The brain develops a tolerance for the drug. So, when previously a dose worked to alleviate pain, it starts to not work over time. Suddenly, patients need more to get the same effects from it.

Then the brain craves the sensation and the addiction has started.

Side Effects of Using Hydrocodone

When initially taking hydrocodone your body feels the euphoric and calming sensation from the drug. Over time though other side effects quickly establish themselves.

There are more unpleasant and challenging side effects that show up when taking the drug over time.

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Back and neck pain
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Hallucinations
  • Slowed heartbeat

A person should never take a hydrocodone drug with alcohol. The side effects can be much more severe. Some of these effects can be severe drowsiness, slowed breathing, heart rate slowed to dangerous levels, coma, unresponsiveness, or death.

Signs of Addiction

If you or a loved one is taking hydrocodone regularly or over a period of time, you should start to watch for signs of addiction. Signs can take the form of changes in the form of physiological and behavioral changes.

Once a person starts to experience the signs of addiction, they start to focus solely on their addiction and getting the drugs. They will neglect their appearance as it no longer matters as much as getting drugs. Physical signs of drug addiction might show up as:

  • Weight loss
  • Dental problems
  • Lack of personal grooming
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Intense cravings

Beyond physical signs, you also want to watch for behavior changes like problems meeting school and/or work obligations, social withdrawal, or forgoing responsibilities at home, work, or school.

Signs of Withdrawal

While the addiction can have its side effects, so to can the withdrawal from not taking the drug once you have an addiction. Some of those side effects include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Drug cravings

Symptoms of withdrawal can last up to a week or longer. There are medications that help with the withdrawal. Drug rehab programs help with the desire to get more drugs. The brain can play some real tricks on a user, encouraging them to take more drugs to avoid the feelings that go with the withdrawal.

Withdrawal Timeline

Once an addict takes their last dose, they will start to feel the withdrawal effects within several hours to a half-day. The peak of their withdrawal will be around three days. It’s likely to feel those withdrawal symptoms for several weeks up to a month.

This is where a drug rehab program is so important. Not only can the patient get support with physical symptoms, but they can also get it for the emotional and behavioral urges to want more drugs.

There are several prescription medications that are given through drug rehab programs. These drugs help the addict get through the withdrawal symptoms, which when you quit the drug abruptly can be severe.

The most commonly known of these is methadone. It can really help with symptoms of withdrawal, yet has its own addictive properties. So, it’s important to be a part of a reputable program that can help manage the medications for the addict.

Detox and Drug Rehabilitation Programs

For a person trying to get clean from a methadone addiction, it’s often best to use a methadone detox program. The program can help monitor you during the withdrawal period.

If the symptoms of withdrawal get too severe, then the programs can use the other medications to support the patient through the worst of it. In most cases, that is for about a week.

Participating in a drug rehab program is also important for the social, emotional and behavioral aspects of the addiction too. They will address what aspects of your personality made you get addicted. A quality program helps with how to address the desires you will have to go back to the drugs too.

Understanding the Complexities of Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone addiction can be a serious and scary problem. When the desire for the drug drives all decision making, it can mean real trouble for the person who’s addicted.

The good news is that there are many avenues for support. If you are looking for a local drug addiction treatment center, we can help. Use our tool to find a location near you and to get more resources to work through your addiction.