Friday April 28th 2017

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Dependence on hydrocodone

Worried about developing a dependence on hydrocodone?

You are not alone. Hydrocodone is very popular opiate used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone is also blended with other substances to treat varies things. However, as a schedule III drug, hydrocodone has a potential for abuse and physical dependence. But does dependence mean that you could develop an hydrocodone addiction? How does hydrocodone affect the brain? And is hydrocodone addictive physically or mentally?

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between dependence on hydrocodone and addiction. And we invite your questions about hydrocodone use or signs of hydrocodone addiction at the end.

Physical dependence on hydrocodone

Dependence on hydrocodone is the physical need to take hydrocodone in order to feel normal. You can know if you’re dependent on hydrocodone by the presence or absence of withdrawal symptoms. This happens when you drastically lower hydrocodone doses or stop taking hydrocodone completely. If you experience hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms, this more than likely means you’ve become physically dependent on hydrocodone.  What are symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal?  Imagine a really, really bad flu.

Psychological dependence on hydrocodone

Hydrocodone addiction is more than a physical dependence. If you have a psychological dependence on hydrocodone, simply reducing your dosage is unlikely to help you quit the medication. Your doctor may recommend a therapist specializing in addiction to help you reduce your use of hydrocodone. If you’re psychologically dependent on hydrocodone you may:

  1. continue to use hydrocodone even if it has negative consequences in your life
  2. experience strong hydrocodone cravings
  3. feel a compulsive need to use hydrocodone
  4. feel the need to take hydrocodone to cope with normal situations

Hydrocodone dependence vs addiction

Dependency on hydrocodone means you can’t stop taking hydrocodone without the presence of withdrawal symptoms. Addiction to hydrocodone is characterized by psychological dependence on hydrocodone and can include cravings, obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive drug seeking.  How do you get addicted to hydrocodone? By using hydrocodone to get high, or to escape psychological or emotional pain.

On the other hand, dependence to hydrocodone occurs when your body develops a need for hydrocodone in order for to behave and function normally. This type of physical dependence develops after normal, prescribed use of hydrocodone over extended periods of time or during abuse of hydrocodone to get high. However, when you start withdrawing from hydrocodone, symptoms of addiction might accompany dependency. It’s important to look out for drug seeking behavior or feeling like you need the drug in order to function properly. These are signs that you may be addicted to hydrocodone, rather than merely dependent on it.

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Hydrocodone dependence time: How long to be dependent on hydrocodone?

Everyone reacts to hydrocodone differently, but you could develop hydrocodone dependency as quickly as a few weeks after continual use of hydrocodone. It may take other people more weeks for physical dependence to develop. And your level of tolerance to hydrocodone can also play a role how long it takes to become dependent.

Because hydrocodone is classified as a schedule III narcotic by the Controlled Substances Act, it is important to take hydrocodone carefully. In fact, hydrocodone has a higher physical dependency rate than other medications. For the most part, different forms of hydrocodone are only used for short term pain-relief unless used specifically for certain pain disorders.

Dependence on hydrocodone symptoms

Dependence on opioids like hydrocodone show up in a few ways. Some signs you should look for include taking hydrocodone to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Can I just stop taking hydrocodone?  It depends on your dosing regime.  So if you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking hydrocodone, this is a sign of dependence.

Also, if you have built up a tolerance to hydrocodone (needing more hydrocodone to achieve the same initial therapeutic effect), this can also point to physical dependence. But keep in mind that tolerance to hydrocodone is not a direct result of dependence to hydrocodone. The two conditions can occur at the same time, however.

Hydrocodone dependence withdrawal

During withdrawal from hydrocodone, hour body is trying to regulate itself after the presence of hydrocodone is no longer in the system. While brain and body adjust, you will probably experience different withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can be painful as well as uncomfortable. Depending on the severity of each case, hydrocodone withdrawal can also me dangerous. Being monitored and seen by a doctor can be helpful to this process. Symptoms to expect as you withdraw from being physically dependent on hydrocodone include:

  • aches and pain
  • confusion
  • depression
  • drug craving
  • flu-like symptoms
  • mood swings
  • stomach pain

Hydrocodone dependence questions

Do you still have questions about hydrocodone dependence and addiction? We invite you to leave us your questions about dependence on hydrocodone below. We welcome all questions and try to answer each one personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: PubChem: Hydrocodone
U.S Department of Energy: Looking for Secrets to Drug Addiction

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14 Responses to “Dependence on hydrocodone
kay g
9:20 pm May 19th, 2014

Can you develop dependence taking 7.5 loratab twice daily? Thanks!

1:49 pm May 21st, 2014

Hello Kay. Yes. Dependence on Lortab can occur after only a couple of weeks of daily dosing. Each person is different in terms of WHEN dependence occurs, but dependence is an expected outcome of taking Lortab daily over time.

9:13 pm September 26th, 2014

I’ve been taking lortabs for almost 3 years, after my daughter was born via C-Section I was prescribed 30 10 mg. Lortabs and from there it was I need one more every day. I don’t want to take them anymore but I didn’t know if I would experience terrible withdrawals! I take 1 or 2 7.5’s a day..what should I do? Please help

11:23 am October 2nd, 2014

Hi Ashley. After taking Lortab for 3 years, your organism has long become accustomed to the presence of the medication. When Lortab dependence develops, withdrawal symptoms occur whenever regular use and doses are stopped or decreased in frequency. You should see a doctor befoe you attempt anything. You can also read these articles to get a better understanding of Lortab withdrawal:

8:09 pm October 22nd, 2014

I’ve been taking Norco for approximately one and a half years. I had foot surgery 4 months ago and my Norco prescription was a 10 mg. I never take more than 2 pills a day and my doctor recently lowered the dose to a 5 Norco. Is it safe to just quit taking Norco ..or should I taper off to none ?

6:11 pm October 25th, 2014

Somebody needs to regulate the pharmacy staff (Doctor wanna be’s) around the country about the hazards of having to sto abruptly without talking to the doctor…especially now that 10/325 hydrocodone has been rescheduled from C3 to C2. After being treated with it for 5 years, every month, they look at the rx and look at you in disdain and say…we’re out, we don’t have any, there are too many in this prescription, we’re not giving it to you (even though it’s the only place they went) or tell you to go to another pharmacy, which is out of many people’s pain contracts. they delight in watching people suffer with with withdrawals and violate their contracts if they find anyone who will fill it. CVS needs to quit playing doctor and do what they’re supposed to do. They need to be investigated for cruel and dangerous conduct in this new situation.

2:01 pm October 27th, 2014

Hi Anna. Tapering doses down is best. It will lower the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms and won’t be as stressful for your organism. You can see a doctor and talk about the best way to taper and what else you can do to ease the process.

3:00 am December 8th, 2014

Do I stop taking hydrocodone before stopping the Clonazepam? Been taking hydrocodone (5/325) since 2009, low doses (no more than one a day, if that). I probably have Dependence on it versus Addiction as I tried to dose down then quit for two days (for back pain). I had 1/8 tab yesterday, and none the two days prior. I am soooo sleepy though esp. the last three days, could it be to lack of hydrocodone? I’m afraid to keep taking it as I want to get off Clonazepam also (1mg per night for sleep, sadly for the last 8 to 10 years). I have a doctor appt. this Thursday, I hope he knows what to do!

4:29 pm December 29th, 2014

Hi Jan. How did the appointment with the doctor go? Are your doing well with detox and withdrawal symptoms? Feel free to write again if you need help with anything else. I hope you are feeling better and i wish you and your family happy Holidays.

11:11 am May 22nd, 2015

I have been on Hydrocodone 10/325 for almost 5 years now after back surgery that left me with nerve and muscle damage, some muscle paralysis and other issues. I’ve come to the point where I feel I need more of the medication then I have ever taken. As soon as the meds wear off I feel withdraw effects with chills, excessive sweating, feeling nauseous, and some coinfusion. After I take a dosage I feel amaIzing, normal and energetic. I’m afraid I’m becoming addicted. What do I need do to??

12:18 pm May 22nd, 2015

Hi Paul. It’s actually tolerance and dependence to hydrocodone what you are experiencing. I wouldn’t say you are addicted. You see, when your body builds up tolerance to the medication, so after some time the med cannot produce the same effects as it used to. On the other hand, dependence is formed when the body gets so accustomed to the presence of the hydrocodone, so it craves it when it starts to get eliminated. You will need to lower doses gradually in order to decrease the levels of tolerance and dependence. Set up an appointment with your doctor to create a tapering schedule and give you advise on which meds can help you treat withdrawal symptoms.

11:51 pm August 14th, 2016

I take one pill a day half in morning and half at night 10_325 .i don’t feel good but this started even before l quit.I have the chill get. Weak in my legs l have been taking. This med for about 3 years

11:58 pm April 5th, 2017

I’ve been using opiates for more than five years. I have chronic back pain and was started off with hydrocodone 5 mg and gradually built up to as far as 50 m phentanale sorry now that’s not how you spell it but it’s an opiate used for treating cancer patients it’s a patch. I’ve just recently quite all uses of opiates and now have GI tract problems. My question is I was just hospitalized for over a week and can not recover my strength or equalibrium and was wondering is this a side effect of not having my opiate medicine. On the side while I was in the hospital I was given morphine to treat the pain for 3 days straight at regular intervals and again went through a mild withdrawal period and it’s been 2 weeks since I was in the hospital.

1:15 pm April 19th, 2017

Hi Brad. Withdrawal from Fentanyl can begin in the first 24 hours following cessation of use. While symptoms intensify about 72 hours after use, they usually resolve within 7-10 days. It was a good thing that you went to the hospital for monitoring.

As for the GI tract symptoms, they are common with opiate withdrawal. Especially symptoms such as nausea, gastrointestinal cramping, diarrhea, etc. You can go to the local pharmacy and ask a pharmacist about some over-the-counter medications that can help you resolve these effects.

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