Monday November 24th 2014

Cold turkey hydrocodone

Going cold turkey hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is very popular opiate narcotic used to treat traumatic pain or chronic pain conditions. After a while, hydrocodone use is known to cause physical dependence.  As a general rule, how long hydrocodone withdrawal lasts depends on how often and how much hydrocodone you’ve been taking.   So when you want to quit taking hydrocodone, is going cold turkey hydrocodone safe? (NO.)  So, how can you avoid hydrocodone withdrawal syndrome?

There are several ways you can stop taking hydrocodone and help to re-establish normalcy in your body.   You don’t need to just quit hydrocodone cold.  Here, we review what happens when you just stop taking hydrocodone abruptly.  We look at how cold turkey hydrocodone withdrawal affects the body, the risks you run and what you can do to help ease hydrocodone withdrawal. Then, we invite any questions you have about hydrocodone at the end.

Quitting hydrocodone cold turkey

What is the profile of the ideal case for quitting hydrocodone cold turkey? Those people best suited for quitting hydrocodone cold turkey should present the following characteristics:

  • be in good health
  • have strong willpower and conviction
  • have NO compromising health conditions that can adversely affect withdrawal
  • resolve underlying pain or the initial reason for using hydrocodone
  • stay away from other substances that can interact with hydrocodone (alcohol, depressants, etc.)

Those with the following characteristics SHOULD NOT try to quit hydrocodone cold turkey:

  1. People with severe hydrocodone dependency
  2. People who have used hydrocodone for a long time (more than 6 months)
  3. People diagnosed with an addiction to hydrocodone

Clinically speaking, those people with the best possible health conditions and those that have the necessary support or environment are most effective when quitting hydrocodone cold turkey. But the safest way to complete cold turkey withdrawal is under medical supervision. Inpatient clinics that specialize in detox can help you if anything goes wrong or the risks of cold turkey becomes a reality.

Cold turkey off hydrocodone

To be clear: IT IS NOT NECESSARY that you go cold turkey off hydroodone. Instead, tapering hydrocodone doses over an extended period of time helps decrease the severity and even the length of time you spend in hydrocodone withdrawal. That is why tapering off hydrocodone is a recommended procedure for people wishing to end hydrocodone dependence or use.

The opposite can be said for stopping cold turkey. When you come cold turkey off hydrocodone, you open the flood gates of chemical neurotransmitters in the brain which cause uncomfortable symptoms. for example, on a taper off hydrocodone you might experience minimal muscle cramping or disruptions in sleep. While going cold turkey off hydrocodone, uncontrollable vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and insomnia can be present simultaneously. Cold turkey hydrocodone can be unbearable and potentially traumatic. In sum, increasing the severity of withdrawal symptoms is the risk you run for quitting hydrocodone cold turkey.

Cold turkey hydrocodone withdrawal

You can expect to feel cold turkey hydrocodone withdrawal shortly after a missed dose, about a few hours after your last dose. However, the degree and length of cold turkey hydrocodone withdrawal fluctuates depending on the dose of hydrocodone you were taking. There are a variety of symptoms you may experience during cold turkey hydrocodone withdrawal. Symptoms can include:

  • abnormal skin sensations
  • chills
  • confusion
  • excessive yawning or sneezing
  • extreme drowsiness
  • diarrhea
  • kicking movements
  • mood changes
  • seizures
  • sleep disturbance
  • sweating
  • stomach pain
  • strong drug craving
  • sweating

While none of these symptoms if life-threatening, cold turkey hydrocodone withdrawal is unnecessarily harsh. Withdrawal peaks in severity over about 3 days. You should begin to feel better after about a week and a half after you have stopped taking hydrocodone. While physical withdrawal resolves relatively quickly, psychological symptoms can arise and may take longer to resolve. Expect cold turkey withdrawal to be demanding, painful, and uncomfortable. It is going to take a lot out of you. But once you get past a couple of weeks, you should feel significantly better.

Stopping hydrocodone cold turkey risks

Stopping hydrocodone cold turkey can be a unpredictable process. While opiates are known to provoke general symptoms during withdrawal, the fact remains that everybody is different. And depending on your current mental and physical health, stopping hydrocodone cold turkey can be more or less successful. The possible ricks you run quitting hydrocodone suddenly includes the following:

  • coma
  • confusion
  • erratic and uncontrollable moods
  • hallucinations
  • increased heart rate/blood pressure
  • relapse do to inability to handle pain
  • seizures
  • tremors

There is also the small possibility of fatality when stopping hydrocodone cold turkey. While death is more likely to happen in people with co-occurring medical issues or cases of extreme hydrocodone addiction, this is something to be aware of when you are thinking of cold turkey hydrocodone withdrawal. So what’s an alternative method for easier hydrocodone detox?

Get off hydrocodone (not cold turkey)

Clinical experts prefer it that you don’t get off hydrocodone cold turkey. They feel that withdrawal doesn’t have to be a painful and debilitating process. Instead, you can slowly lower hydrocodone doses over time to lower risk of severe symptoms of withdrawal. Always check with your prescribing doctor and ask for a hydrocodone tapering schedule when coming off hydrocodone. Tapered hydrocodone doses should be medically supervised in the case that tweaking and adjustments are required. In general, some guidelines for getting off hydrocodone include:

1. A 2 to 3 week hydrocodone tapering regimen should be adequate in most cases

2. Reduce the hydrocodone dose by 10% at each interval

3. Reduce the hydrocodone dose by 20% every 3-5 days

4. Reduce the hydrocodone dose by 25% per week

5. Avoid reducing the daily dose by > 50% at any given interval

Still, doctors know that sometimes cold turkey hydrocodone is unavoidable. Opiates are more safe to stop cold turkey than other types of drugs. However, if you have decided to stop hydrocodone cold turkey, doctors recommended doing it through a detox program. You can then withdraw from hydrocodone in a safe environment with nurses and clinicians around you to help address any complications. Cold turkey itself doesn’t have to be a needlessly painful experience.

Can I quit hydrocodone cold turkey?

The reality is that it is up to you whether you want to complete a hydrocodone cold turkey withdrawal, or not. Weigh the risks and make sure you know what you are getting into. Be prepared and have everything you need to treat withdrawal symptoms in advance. Also, tell someone that you are quitting hydrocodone cold turkey so that you can get help during your recovery.

Cold turkey hydrocodone questions…Do you still have questions about stopping hydrocodone cold turkey? Please provide your questions. We would also like to hear from people who have tried stopping cold turkey. You experience are important to use.

Resources: SAMHSA: RECOMMENDATIONS TO PHYSICIANS CARING FOR KATRINA/RITA DISASTER VICTIMS ON CHRONIC OPIOIDS
Drug Enforcement Administration Drug of Concern: Hydrocodone
State of Iowa: Talking about prescription drug misuse
NCBI: Abuse Opiates

Photo credit: Pensiero

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8 Responses to “Cold turkey hydrocodone
Liz
8:10 pm February 27th, 2014

I have taken vicodin now since 1996 and have again come to the point that I’m gonna just try and quit cold turkey. I actually called a treatment center to trying to set something up, I had given my name phone number , short brief rundown of my situation, insurance card info and then I was given a counselor for me to call the next day so my evaluation assessment could be completed. I called the next day and was connected to someone else’s answering machine. I didn’t call back and the facility hasn’t called me. That was a week ago. That’s when I decided to handle it myself, for now at least. I plan on getting help but during my first week off of them I have no energy or desire to move at all. Hope I regain some energy to get showered and get in to see my family practice doctor about this early next week. My first day cold turkey I could feel it creeping up since I had taken my last pills 4 vicodin And 1 morphing pill since 5pm the previous day and it was about 3pm when I began feel worst and worst. The second night, and 3rd nights were really bad kicking in bed, hot and cold, and clammy is the worst. My extremities were always very cold throughout the day. I had to go to the bathroom very often. I have ambien (sleeping pills) to just knock myself out if the fig gritting was too unbearable and the agitation. I lelt good every morning when I woke, but when the 3 hour came around after waking I would gradually begin feeling agitated and it would get worst and worst not helping would be the clammy body with cold hands and feet. I tried to not take a sleeping pill and see what would happen. It wasn’t good, hour after hour figgity and irritable and crying. I found that for me, when I take an ambien to sleep through this unpleasant withdrawal helps me 100% I do feel like my heart is pounding aliitle harder too since day 2 of the cold turkey. That concerns me and is a big part of why I want to get in to see my doctor. I pray to God I get this out of my life, it controls everything. It’s bad

10:08 am February 28th, 2014

Hello Liz. Good luck during your withdrawal and treatment. I’d suggest that you seek help for withdrawal from a local detox center. You don’t have to white knuckle the situation and you can also get psycho-emotional support from clinic staff, as well as referrals to a treatment center AFTER withdrawal. Keep calling and asking for help. Your health is, ultimately, your responsibility.

john
1:28 pm July 8th, 2014

I was prescribed 7.5mg hydrocodone for a neck injury. Bulging disc and pinched nerves. Prior to being prescribed this medicine I was taking the 800mg ibuprofen and doing just fine. In the past from time to time my doctor would write a small script for pain. Like 30 5mg with no refills. Usually I would only take a few and end up having the remaining 20 pills for 6 to 7 months. But after my neck injury my doctor started me on the 7.5mg hydrocodone and I have been on them for at least a year now. And I have increased my dose from three daily as prescribed to 6 daily because I have become addicted to them and the feeling they produce. Sometimes I take them when I don’t even need them just because I want to feel good. And I said I would never let this happen to me, boy was I wrong! I decided that I was tired of being dependent on the drug and stopped cold turkey last night. I am suffering bad. I cant sleep, I have severe cramping, sweating… using the bathroom a lot. I am agitated and going through crying spells-followed by anger. I am a army veteran and I also take blood pressure medicine, reflux meds, cholesterol meds and klonopin for anxiety. I don’t know what to do or where to turn to…maybe I could message my doctor and tell him? I don’t know. If you go to a detox center will this show up on your background check? This is something I can’t have happen due to my career field. My breathing feels funny also and I am getting head rushes. This really sucks….

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
8:40 am July 9th, 2014

Hi John. I’d suggest you set up an appointment with your doctor. Doctors can give you better advice around safe detoxing from home, and maybe prescribe some meds that will help you with the severity of the withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone.

Todd
4:06 pm August 19th, 2014

So I am on day 2, so far little dizzy some puking but not much. diarrhea however has be rough. Chills, most of the time. Had back surgery about a yr ago was on 40mg per day. Also very weak and can’t get comfortable. But if this is the worse I can handle it. Sleeping has been rough as well. First night really sucked. Nauseous as well. Sorry feel to bad to give a crap about grammar. Lol. Thank you for this article. It really helps. I’m not in a program, I owe the surgeon money so he won’t refill my scrip. I feel that’s a good thing. The longer I’m off it the more I feel I didn’t need it. I still have pain but it’s not bad enough for me to want to take anything for it. So maybe I didn’t need it as long as the doc thought. I like not being dependent on it. Praying I can continue, so far I see no reason I can’t. Thanks again!!!

john
1:08 pm August 20th, 2014

Well I have got myself down to three pills daily vs. the 6 I was taking. I am doing this all on my own. My prescribed dose is three daily but like I said I had gone up to six daily. The worst part is over and I will drop down to two daily on my next refill. I can tell you this, the Gabapentin worked like a charm for me during the 2 weeks I had absolutely no medication. What works for one person may not work for another that is just the way it is.But do not count out this medication. And I speak from my own experience as it helped me a lot with the withdrawal symptoms to the point that I could function in a work environment and nobody knew I was going through withdrawal. But I also took myself off of Xanax back in 1992 after being on it for 7 years straight. Cold turkey! Yes it sucked for about a week but after that I was fine. I am not a person who likes pills and I could give a crap about feeling buzzed from hydrocodone anymore. I now control the medication, it does not control me.For anybody out there who is going through hydrocodone withdrawal I know it sucks and seems like it’s the end of the world but it isn’t and you can kick it if you want to bad enough. I am not saying it will be a walk in the park, but on the same note it’s not the end of the world either. And PLEASE try Gabapentin.it worked wonders on me for both pain,anxiety,withdrawal etc…

Santa Clause
7:04 pm October 29th, 2014

Been taking norco 10/325 for about five years now. (2-4 pills/ day) I’m tired of running out early, worrying about how I’m gonna work and/or perform to the same standard. As my job requires 10-12 hrs a day of walking, bending and lifting. Which the pills not only mask pain but give me a lot of energy. I really do not like having to depend on something or the example I have set for my kids. I don’t like the rif raf I have to go through every month getting my refills… The dea is really cracking down and I feel like a criminal sometimes. Especially when dealing with pharmacies. I’ve again ran out early this month and decided to get off of them cold turkey. Im now on my third day and it’s time to go back to work. I have experienced almost every symptom listed on this page over the past 2 days and this morning I’m still not feeling any better. How much longer do I have to deal with feeling like this? I’m 33 and have no medical issues I’m aware of. Doc says I’m healthy other than my bum knee. Which is why I’ve decided to try cold turkey bc I feel as though medically (physically) my body can take it. The biggest worry I have other than these dreadful withdrawal symptoms, is the mental addiction I’ve developed. For years now I have looked forward to my next pill each day, not only bc of pain but mainly because it gives me a surge of energy and puts me in a good mood. Almost like the medicine helps me deal with my issues. Makes everything seem a little easier to deal with, at least immediately. So I know after physical withdrawals are over I have to re learn how to live without it. So second question… Any tips or advice on how to do so?

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
12:14 pm November 7th, 2014

Hi Santa. After five years of taking the meds, you’ve probably developed a level of physical as well as psychological dependence. But, congradulations on deciding to quit. Hydrocodone withdrawal usually peaks around 72 hours after last dose and resolve within 7-10 days after last use. So, you probably won’t be feeling any better during the following days, but then it gets better. As for the psychological dependence, see if you can find a psychologist to talk to, or some group therapy to participate in.

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