What Is Hydrocodone?

February 5, 2021

What Is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid used to relieve severe pain. According to the US National Library of Medicine, doctors only prescribe hydrocodone to people who need to relieve chronic and severe pain. Also, if prescribed hydrocodone, the patient cannot be treated with other pain-relieving drugs. Opioids like hydrocodone ease pain by affecting the sensory perception of the nerves and the brain. Anexsia, OxyContin, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, and Vicodin are some of the trade names under the hydrocodone drug category. 


Can You Snort Hydrocodone?

It is illegal and harmful to intake hydrocodone if not prescribed by a physician. Moreover, it is also dangerous to abuse it by consuming it another way than the manner prescribed. The US National Library of Medicine warns about following the exact time of taking medicine, usually once daily for hydrocodone. Pre-soaking or licking the hydrocodone tablets before ingesting the pill through the mouth are both highly discouraged. It is discouraged because this drug comes in extended-release formulations. Extended-release means that the drug manufacturers formulated it to be released in the body slowly as it travels down the digestive path. Taking the drug another way is harmful since it can be more abrupt and can lead to overdosing. Dangerous ways to take hydrocodone, like snorting or pre-soaking hydrocodone, also includes anything aside from what your doctor or pharmacist prescribed.

Why is Snorting Drugs Bad?

A Time magazine article covered an interview with Dr. Richard Lebowitz, an associate professor at New York University’s Department of Otolaryngology. Dr. Lebowitz explained there that any powder could cause damage to the nose when snorted. He said that any kind of powder could cause nasal lining inflammation, lung infection, and airway blockages. FDA-regulated nasal sprays and solutions are not as dangerous given that these have liquid. The liquid makes these gentler on the nasal passage. Many people still snort powders such as illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, or prescription drugs like hydrocodone because they want quick absorption of the drug to experience the effect quickly. Still, according to Dr. Lebowits, he has seen patients with holes in their nasal septum and crusted nasal membranes because of impurities mixed in the snorted drug compounds. He continues to say that when the nasal airways are permanently damaged, the lung can suffer long-term. The air the person inhales no longer gets filtered by the nose, and the lungs are exposed to more dirt. In short, snorting powdered hydrocodone poses a unique threat to long- term health. 


Why is it Dangerous to Snort Hydrocodone?

Snorting hydrocodone is an abuse of the drug. Snorting results in the rapid onset of the drug’s effects, such as the “high” or euphoria and the pain relief. However, snorting powdered hydrocodone can pose health risks such as those mentioned earlier in this article. Also, it can cause other, more serious adverse effects. A study on a particular case of a patient shows that snorting hydrocodone can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is the swelling of lung tissue, which makes breathing difficult. 


Another study states the common symptoms that people who snort hydrocodone complain about most often. More than 40 percent complain about orofacial-nasal pain. It is a pain on the face, including the area between eyes and ears (also called the orbito-meatal line), above the neck, near the front of the ears, above and below eyes, behind the nose, and even in the mouth. Also, more than 40 percent complained of sino-nasal discharge.


Other adverse effects of snorting hydrocodone based on the same study are:

  1. Active necrosis – This is the active, irreversible cell death in the body.
  2. Septal perforations  – Simply put, these are holes on the septum of the nose. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a septal perforation itself can have several symptoms, including nosebleed or epistaxis, flowing thin nasal mucus or rhinorrhea,  nasal obstruction, whistling, crusting, pain, foul smell, chronic rhinosinusitis (may include loss of smell, mucus discharge that can flow down the throat, facial pain or pressure)
  3. Palatal perforations – This is the roof of the mouth forming holes.
  4. Invasive fungal sinusitis – Two cases in the said study were found to have this problem. One resulted in death.


What are the Signs Someone Is Snorting Hydrocodone?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that even those who just use opioids such as hydrocodone as prescribed can become addicted. Only three days of treatment can result in addiction. Abusing hydrocodone, including consumption by snorting, will likely result in addiction as abused hydrocodone can give a sense of euphoria. The same study mentioned above shows that the majority of the patients initially denied snorting hydrocodone. However, this just delays diagnosis, which can result in worsening of their conditions. If you are worried about a loved one becoming addicted to hydrocodone and snorting it, here are tell-tale signs you should look out for:

  • The person may complain or look dizzy, experience vomiting, headaches, muscle weakness, clammy skin, or seizures. 
  • Foul smell from the nose or mouth could also mean damage inside the nose because of frequent snorting. Thin mucus flowing from the nose continuously, like when one has allergies, is also a sign.
  • Psychological effects that you must look out for are fearfulness, confusion, and depression. 
  • Drug paraphernalia such as hollowed-out pen cases, rolled-up bills, and cut-open plastic straws are commonly-used objects when snorting powdered pills. 


Where can I get treatment and help? 

Hydrocodone addiction can start from being prescribed with it for chronic pain. Addiction can also begin when a person is just looking to ease their stress in the workplace, at home, or in school. Although there is still a stigma about any form of addiction, our society has begun to inch closer towards understanding addiction as a disorder. A decent addiction center should have that knowledge and treat its patients with dignity and confidentiality. It isn’t easy to take the first step to substance abuse treatment. Still, the right rehab like this drug rehab in Arizona provides detoxification, in-patient rehabilitation, and therapy to help begin the healing journey. You might want to explore this recognized top drug rehab in Mesa, AZ, which offers family-focused, patient-oriented rehab to Mesa, AZ residents if you need assistance towards long-term sobriety.


Summary:  Hydrocodone is a prescribed opioid, illegal without a prescription, and can cause nasal necrosis/perforation, palate perforation, infection, addiction, and even death. 


Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. The purpose of this blog is not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.