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What Are the Long Term Effects of Hydrocodone?

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

Despite only making up 4.4% of the world’s population, the United States uses up 99% of the world’s hydrocodone. With opioids in general, we use up 80% of the world’s supply.

While hydrocodone can certainly be used for legitimate medical reasons, they are a type of opioid, which is highly addictive. The US is in the middle of an opioid epidemic, and many people underestimate the effects these drugs can have on them.

In this article, we’ll discuss 10 long-term effects of hydrocodone so you can see what can happen if you’re on this medication for a long period of time.

1. Chronic Constipation

Whenever you use opioids, constipation is a common short-term side effect. It can actually be a side effect as soon as you take the medication. But if you keep taking hydrocodone, chronic constipation is very likely.

You can always get a doctor to prescribe stool softeners. You can also take fiber supplements to help move things along.

However, if you don’t take action against chronic constipation, it can lead to other health problems, like hemorrhoids or even prolapse.

2. Liver Damage

Liver damage can happen with a multitude of medications. Hydrocodone won’t usually cause serious liver damage on its own, but if you’re taking Vicodin, it’ll have acetaminophen added in. This is a drug that can elevate your liver enzymes, which then results in liver damage as well.

As you can see, if you’re taking both hydrocodone and acetaminophen together on a long-term basis, this can lead to severe liver damage.

3. Kidney Damage

Not only is liver damage one of the long-term effects of opiates, but so is kidney damage. This is also due to the fact that you’re taking both hydrocodone and acetaminophen together.

Whether you’re abusing Vicodin or are using your prescribed medication with other over-the-counter medications, this can all eventually lead to kidney failure. As a result, you might need a transplant.

4. Hearing Loss

This may come as a surprise to many, but long-term abuse of hydrocodone can lead to hearing loss. It’s an infrequent side effect, but it does happen.

As many as 25% of those who have hearing loss have chronic pain as well. In addition, the hearing loss can be so profound that a cochlear implant is needed. And for some, an effective hearing aid may be next to impossible to find.

What’s also concerning is the hearing loss is often not reversible. This means that even if you quit hydrocodone, the hearing loss might be permanent.

5. Reproductive Issues in Men

If you’re planning on having children, then long-term hydrocodone use might affect your family plans. Long-term opioid use can significantly decrease testosterone output, which can also cause your libido to wane. In addition, it can cause erectile dysfunction.

All of the above can make it much harder to conceive, so if you want to have children in the future, be aware that long-term hydrocodone use can delay those plans.

6. Brain Damage

In general, opioids can cause your breathing rate to slow down. In turn, this limits your body’s oxygen supply. This means that a lot of vital organs (such as your brain) don’t get enough oxygen-rich blood circulation.

As a result, this can do some long-term damage. For example, you might experience memory loss, difficulties concentration, cognitive decline, and even personality changes.

7. Irregular Heartbeats

In addition to slowing down your breathing rate, long-term hydrocodone or opioid use can also cause irregular heartbeats. If this goes on for long enough, it can damage not only your heart, but also your arteries and veins.

Another side effect hydrocodone use might have is heart attack. If you’re already in the at-risk group, then this can drive up your risk significantly.

8. Insomnia

This might also be another strange side effect, considering most people feel drowsy whenever they take opioids. While you can feel sleepy, you’ll most likely have trouble falling and staying asleep. In fact, insomnia is 42% more common in people using opioids than those who don’t use them.

Because you have to live with regular sleep disruption, this can eventually lead to issues such as irritability and difficulty in keeping up with work or school.

9. Mental Health Issues

The long-term effects of hydrocodone aren’t all physiological. Many people who use opioids experience mental health issues like anxiety and depression. For some, these issues remain with them, even long after they’ve quit hydrocodone.

You might also be agitated and irritable, which can cause some conflicts in everyday life.

10. Dependence and Addiction

One of the worst long-term side effects of hydrocodone is dependence and addiction. Dependence can actually happen while taking the drug as prescribed, which is what makes it so dangerous.

And when it comes to hydrocodone addiction, there’s a thin line to cross from dependence to addiction. At that point, it can be so bad that interpersonal relationships are ruined. Plus, it’s not uncommon for the person to ignore responsibilities, such as school or work.

This, in addition to all the other above health problems, can have a significantly detrimental effect on someone’s life.

Know the Long-Term Effects of Hydrocodone

Now that you know the long-term effects of hydrocodone, you might have noticed in either yourself or a loved one. If so, then getting off of this medication may be in your best interest.

However, getting off of opioids on your own can be difficult. Not to mention, it can also be dangerous.

For the best results, you should seek out professional help from an addiction treatment center. Not only can they help you get off hydrocodone, but they can also help decrease your chances of relapse.

Would you like to start hydrocodone addiction treatment? Then find local addiction treatment centers for hydrocodone recovery now.