Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment

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Drug Treatment Guide

hydrocodone pill bottleWhat is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is an opioid painkiller, and also the main ingredient in many other prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Norco and Lortab. Often prescribed for short-term pain, Hydrocodone has a high potential for abuse and addiction.

What is Hydrocodone Abuse?

Prescription painkillers are among the most abused drugs in the United States. This is largely due to the highly addictive nature of opioids.

Anyone who uses hydrocodone frequently and in high doses, may begin to show signs of abuse. In higher doses, this drug affects the brain much like morphine or heroin would; giving feelings of euphoria while blocking pain receptors. Without treatment, overcoming an addiction to hydrocodone can be difficult due to the changes in brain chemistry that it causes. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hydrocodone Abuse?

As previously mentioned, drugs like Vicodin, Lortab and Norco are all brand names for Hydrocodone, and they are all highly addictive.

Short and Long-term signs of hydrocodone abuse include:
  • Drowsiness
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Constricted pupils
  • Rash
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feelings of aggression
  • Confusion
  • Blurry vision
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Liver damage
  • Psychosis
  • Coma
  • Death

The risk of overdose is higher over long-term use as a tolerance forms. Hydrocodone addiction treatment can help addicts before they become vulnerable to an overdose. Contact a certified rehab center today to learn more about how to get started on the road to recovery.

Hydrocodone AddictionHow does Hydrocodone Addiction Form?

Addiction to Hydrocodone and other opioids forms as a result of repeated misuse. Over time, the user becomes reliant on the drug in order to feel any sense of euphoria or happiness. The substance alters the reward centers in the brain by blocking pain and inducing a state of euphoria through the release of “feel good” chemicals.

As the person abuses the drug, their brain produces less and less dopamine and serotonin (chemicals that make a person feel pleasure), and without the drug, they begin to feel that they cannot experience this high. This leads to repeated abuse, and eventually, dependence.

Withdrawal and Detox from Hydrocodone

Another sign of addiction is symptoms of withdrawal. Those who have become dependent on the medication may take it solely for the purpose of avoiding these uncomfortable symptoms.

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can include:
  • Insomnia
  • Body tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain in joints in muscles
  • Cold flashes
  • Nausea and vomiting

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In order to mitigate these symptoms, a medical detox is recommended. This provides patients with a safe and comfortable environment where they can slowly be weaned off the drug and provided with important nutrients and medications.

Medications used during hydrocodone detox include Clonidine and buprenorphine, which both help to ease anxiety, muscle pain. vomiting and sweating. Naltrexone is sometimes used to speed up the detox process.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

The most intensive form of addiction treatment is inpatient rehab. With this form of treatment, the patient will reside at the rehab facility for a set period of time- usually anywhere from 30-90 days. This offers the patient several benefits including: a safe environment to recover away from outside influences, constant supervision to help the patient through their detox safely, and an overall better chance at recovery. No drugs are allowed on the grounds and the patients have ample healthy activities that can keep them busy and in the right frame of mind.

Through individual and group therapy, patients learn to adjust their and acquire skills they need in order to deal with emotional and societal issues that may trigger drug abuse. Furthermore, a patient’s long-term recovery is assisted through relapse prevention strategies that can help them identify and understand their triggers and avoid future temptations.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

An outpatient drug treatment program is available to those who cannot reside at the treatment facility. These patients attend therapy and receive other services such as detox at the rehab facility, but return home afterwards. It allows the patient to remain autonomous while simultaneously receiving professional help for their addiction.

While not advised for patients who have a long history with addiction, outpatient rehab can be beneficial for people who need help for their substance abuse problem, but still need to go to work or see to other areas of their life. It is often more affordable than inpatient programs, but there is also a higher risk of relapse.


  1. Abuse, N. I. (2014, April 29). Prescription Opioid and Heroin Abuse. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2015/prescription-opioid-heroin-abuse
  2. Prescription Opioid Overdose Data. (2016, December 16). Retrieved December 20, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html
  3. Hydrocodone And Acetaminophen (Oral Route). (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/hydrocodone-and-acetaminophen-oral-route/description/drg-20074089

Last updated on July 19th, 2017 at 07:59 pm

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