Hydrocodone addiction continues to contribute to the rising number of opioid cases in the United States. Usually, this is prescribed to patients as a way to relieve severe pain. However, hydrocodone can be highly addictive.
A person may become dependent on this pain medication after a legitimate use. Hence, physicians may prescribe it following a surgery or an injury. Some individuals develop a tolerance for it throughout treatment, prompting them to take higher doses than prescribed.
Sometimes, even if the body has already healed, the individual still takes the medication for its euphoric effects. Some would also combine hydrocodone with alcohol to satisfy their cravings.
However, doing this can be dangerous. It makes you more prone not only to intoxication but to overdose as well. Hydrocodone addiction treatment is necessary to address this problem.
Recognizing Hydrocodone Addiction Symptoms
Individuals suffering from hydrocodone addiction may experience several symptoms. These include:
- Increased heart rate
- Diarrhea or upset stomach
- Mouth dryness
- Itchy skin
- Slow breathing
- Warm, flushed skin
- Vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Mood swings or extreme behavior changes
- Sexual dysfunction in men
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
Side Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse
The continued use of hydrocodone can result in adverse health effects on the user’s physical and mental health. This includes the following:
Hydrocodone addiction can make you feel constipated, causing damage to the bowels. This often leads to hemorrhoids, tearing of the anus skin, fecal impaction, rectal prolapse, and increased risk of ulcers.
Long-term use of large amounts of hydrocodone can reduce your breathing rate. Taking in a minimal amount of oxygen can harm your organ systems, including the brain.
Endocrine System Damage
Chronic use of hydrocodone lowers hormone levels in the body, such as estrogen and testosterone. This also affects your fertility, making it more challenging to start a pregnancy.
Hyperalgesia (Extreme Sensitivity to Pain)
Individuals with hydrocodone addiction may be at risk of damaging their brain receptors or the part of the brain that manages pain responses.
As a result, it takes longer for the user to recover from an injury or surgery, and there are intense cravings for hydrocodone to relieve pain.
Taking high doses of hydrocodone can result in increased levels of feel-good neurotransmitters that flood the brain. This changes the structures involved in emotional control, rational thinking, memory, and learning.
Consuming high doses of acetaminophen can cause cirrhosis and other serious risks to your liver.
Is Hydrocodone Addictive?
Since hydrocodone is an opiate, developing an addiction is common among its users. In fact, this drug falls under schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. This means it has a high potential for abuse that could result in severe psychological or physical dependence.
A report from the Drug Enforcement Administration shows that about 6.9 million individuals in the U.S. aged 12 and older used hydrocodone for non-medical purposes in 2015.
What Helps with Hydrocodone Withdrawal
Hydrocodone withdrawal can bring unpleasant symptoms to the user. As such, it’s not advisable to go cold turkey on your own. Undergoing medical detoxification can increase your chances of having a safe and successful recovery.
In a secured facility, you will be closely monitored by an experienced team of medical practitioners – all of whom have been trained in the management and treatment of addiction. During detox, you will be given medications to decrease your cravings and alleviate symptoms.
If you are having mild withdrawal, treatment specialists may recommend taking acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Meanwhile, loperamide (Imodium) can help with your diarrhea, while hydroxyzine (Vistaril, Atarax) can ease nausea.
Individuals with stronger withdrawal symptoms may need hospitalization and the administration of additional medication. Clonidine is a drug primarily used in inpatient settings. Additionally, it reduces the severity of symptoms like anxiety, muscular pains and cramps, restlessness, sweating, and runny nose.
To prevent constipation, you may use suboxone. It mixes a milder opioid (buprenorphine) and an opioid blocker (naloxone) without producing the addictive effects of other drugs.
Those who have long-term maintenance therapy can take methadone but in controlled amounts, as this drug can be abused.
How Long Does Hydrocodone Withdrawal Last?
In general, hydrocodone withdrawal begins between 6 and 12 hours after your last dose. Its peak stage occurs within 72 hours, and it can last from a week to a month.
The withdrawal timeline varies depending on the length of time you took the drug, as well as the average dose and its exact formulation. Further, the longer time you take the medication, the more intense your physiological dependence will be.
Some underlying medical or mental health issues may also affect the duration of the withdrawal, as the brain works to restore itself.
Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment Management
Most drug-dependent individuals benefit from undergoing medical detoxification. This keeps them comfortable as the drug is eliminated from their body.
Detox can be done as an inpatient or outpatient procedure, with treatment specialists monitoring the withdrawal process.
During a hydrocodone detox program, doctors taper or reduce the patients’ drug dosage over time until they no longer use them. They also give certain medications to keep patients comfortable and stable, typically lasting from five to seven days.
In addition, patients must follow a healthy diet plan, exercise program, and structured sleep schedule to help the body recuperate faster.
To make the treatment plan more holistic, there will also be therapy and counseling. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is one of the treatment tools that can be used to combat prescription drug addiction. It lets you determine your destructive behavioral patterns and triggers while teaching you healthy coping skills.
An addiction can creep up on you without even realizing it. To overcome your addiction safely and avoid the risk of an overdose, you need to undergo hydrocodone addiction treatment as soon as possible.
So, if you or a loved one is struggling with hydrocodone dependence or addiction, there is hope for a full recovery.
Buena Vista Health and Recovery Centers seek to deliver comprehensive addiction treatment solutions to ensure patients have a safe place to manage their withdrawal symptoms. Call us today to know more about our programs.
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