How to stop taking hydrocodone
OVERVIEW: The safest way to quit hydrocodone is by gradually, and very slowly reducing the daily dose. Even though, withdrawal from hydrocodone is not dangerous to your life, it may be very harsh and severe.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Happens When You Quit?
- Can I Just Stop Taking It?
- Cold Turkey Withdrawal
- Ready To Quit?
- Can I Detox at Home?
- How to Stop taking Hydrocodone Safely?
- Do I Have a Problem?
- What To Do Next?
What Happens When You Quit?
Used to treat moderate to severe pain, hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opiod agonist that according to Customer Reports is the most widely prescribed medication in the U.S. In fact, the 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA) Summary revealed that more than 6.7 billion hydrocodone tablets were distributed in the United States in 2015.
However, this pain reliever has enormous addictive potential that changes the way the brain perceive pain only after using it for short period of time. Actually, the National Safety Council reports that opioids such as hydrocodone are able to develop dependence in 5-7 days of daily dosing.
Over a time, your brain and body body becomes used to the presence of hydrocodone. When you abruptly stop taking hydrocodone, your body has to adjust again to function without the medication, which can cause minor or even severe withdrawal symptoms. Even if you aren’t psychologically dependent (addicted) to the medication, this will still be the case.
Different people will have a different length of time they can take hydrocodone for without developing a dependence, but in general it takes several weeks of continuous use to develop hydrocodone dependence. Withdrawal effects can include a number of side effects, such as:
- abdominal cramping
- abnormal skin sensations
- back aches
- decreased appetite
- intense craving
- mood swings
- muscle aches & cramps
- restless legs syndrome
- sensitivity to pain
Taking hydrocodone long term – over several months or even years – will cause much worse withdrawal symptoms than those experienced from short-term use. Hydrocodone withdrawal syndrome may also be worse if you have abused hydrocodone by taking it in very high doses or in a manner other than prescribed such as snorting or injecting hydrocodone.
Can I Just Stop Taking It?
Yes, you can just stop taking hydrocodone… but only if you’ve just started. Many people are given hydrocodone for a week or two for the management of pain from an illness, accident, or operation. If you’re only taking hydrocodone for a short period of time, you can easily stop taking hydrocodone when you no longer need it or your prescription runs out.
Many people, however, will need to stop taking hydrocodone gradually. If you’ve taken hydrocodone to help manage chronic pain, things get a little more complicated. Hydrocodone uses and side effects can include physical dependency. You’ll experience withdrawal symptoms after taking hydrocodone long term, making it difficult to quit using hydrocodone. You may also have developed an addiction to hydrocodone which does not allow you to simply stop taking hydrocodone without intense cravings. How addictive is hydrocodone? Relatively very addictive. And, because of its addictive potential, and high frequency of (ab)use, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) request a change of hydrocodone classification in 2013. So, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moved this painkiller to more controlled group, Schedule II.
If you’ve only been taking hydrocodone for a short while, you can suddenly stop without ill effects. If you’ve taken hydrocodone longer than a few weeks, this isn’t advisable because the withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly unpleasant. Most doctors will recommend gradually reducing your dose of hydrocodone to make quitting easier.
There are some situations in which it would make sense to quit hydrocodone cold turkey. If you’ve previously had a bad reaction to the medication or it’s causing unpleasant side effects, tapering your dosage may be intolerable or even dangerous. If you suffer from a hydrocodone addiction, it may seem tempting to quit cold turkey, but you need to address the underlying addiction issues with a medical professional as well to help prevent relapse.
Ready To Quit?
Are you interested in stopping hydrocodone?
Keep in mind that it can be difficult to quit hydrocodone without a doctor’s assistance, because how hydrocodone works is related to the brain. There are a variety of reasons why you might have trouble managing hydrocodone dependence or addiction.
If you are ready to quit hydrocodone for good, be sure that you have these three supports:
- Personal motivation. Find reasons to quit by making a pros-and-cons list where you will write all positive reasons to stop using, and all negative effects that addiction could do to you.
- Medical resources. Educate yourself about the dangers of long-term hydrocodone use. Consult with your doctor, and/or a pharmacist. You may also consider enrolling into medical detox.
- Emotional support. Make sure that you’ll have all support of your friends and family to quit. If your environment is not supportive, your recovery path will be more difficult.
Can I Detox at Home?
You may, but it’s not recommend. Any home detox requires medical supervision which means that you first need to consult with your prescribing doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Getting medical permission is very important since withdrawal from hydrocodone may be very uncomfortable and harsh, so people in poor health may not be eligible.
Slowly reducing your dose may be over for several weeks or even months, but its the safest way to stop taking hydrocodone. CDC Guideline for tapering opioids for chronic pain suggests that a decrease of 10% of the original dose per week is a reasonable starting point.
Tapering schedules should be individualized, so they can minimize withdrawal symptoms. If the tapering plan doesn’t work for you, speak with your doctor about making a new dosage plan.
How to Stop taking Hydrocodone Safely?
Reducing your dosage over several weeks or months is the safest way to quit hydrocodone. It’s also the best way to ensure that you don’t experience a relapse and start taking hydrocodone again.
The FDA label of ZOHYDRO® ER (a hydrocodone product) states:
When a patient no longer requires therapy with ZOHYDRO ER, taper the dose gradually, according to the schedule while monitoring carefully for signs and symptoms of withdrawal. If the patient develops these sign or symptoms, raise the dose to the previous level and taper more slowly.
The safest way to stop taking hydrocodone is by consulting a doctor and following his or her instructions. There may be medical treatments available to help you deal with withdrawal symptoms, but it’s usually preferable to stop taking hydrocodone without taking other opioid medications for withdrawals.
Currently, there are several effective medical treatments that include medically assessed therapy to ease the hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms. The most common medications used in treating withdrawal include:
- Diphenoxylate and Loperamide
- Hydroxyzine and Promethazine
- Dicyclomine hydrochloride
However, the safest way to stop taking hydrocodone is under medical supervision, where trained staff can help you overcome physical as well as psychological issues.
Do I Have a Problem?
First of all, you need to be honest about your use of hydrocodone. Also, symptoms of substance abuse problems are different among individuals, but generally speaking, hydrocodone problem can be recognized if you display several of the following statements:
- Continue to use the drug despite all negative consequences.
- Find illegal ways to get the medication (doctor shopping, stealing, Internet)
- Feel cravings to use it again and again.
- Losing control over the doses and frequency of use.
- Unable to stop taking hydrocodone regardless many attempts to do it.
- Changed or lost interest in hobbies.
- Obsessed over getting and using the medication.
If many of these statements are ‘YES’, you may have a serious problem. But, if you are not sure that you may have problem with hydrocodone, download our free guide How To Quit Opioid Painkillers to find brief self-screening questions to assess opioid drug use.
What To Do Next?
STEP 1: Admit that you have a problem. Are you worried that you have a problem? Then, the chances that you have a problem are huge. Get real with yourself, and be honest. The first step to recovery is admitting your problem.
STEP 2: Find reasons to change. If you want to came out clean, and break the cycle of addiction, you need to find reasons to quit. Your motivation for sobriety will lead you on the right path to normal life.
STEP 3: Reach out for help. Nowadays, addiction is not considered as a moral issue, it’s a brain disease. So, don’t be ashamed to reach out for help. There are people who can help you, if you can’t do it by yourself. The medically specialized places that can provide you with appropriate services include:
- Addiction rehabs
- Licensed psychologists
- Licensed psychiatrists
- Medical detox clinics
- Medical doctors
Rehabs are places that can help you uncover why you use painkillers, and will learn you how to live without them. When you look for a rehab program, you will need to make a choice between two options: inpatient or outpatient program.
Inpatient (residential) treatment provides 24-hour medical care and supervision of their patients. Actually, patients live in the facility during the recovery program. During the program, specialists provide constant care that will prepare you for life after rehab. Some of the most common services that inpatient rehab includes are:
- individual therapy sessions
- group therapy sessions
- educational classes about addiction and recovery
Outpatient treatment provides similar therapies as inpatient programs, but there is no constant care since the patients come and go for a few hours, several days per week. These weekly hours include visits with counselor to follow up with the program. Outpatient treatment gives you more flexibility because you will continue with your daily schedule.
Got Any Questions?
Do you still have questions about how to stop taking hydrocodone? Please leave us your questions here. We wll do our best to answer you personally and promptly.