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Hydrocodone withdrawal treatment: How to treat hydrocodone withdrawal

How to treat hydrocodone withdrawal

If you’re looking for a hydrocodone withdrawal definition, you’ve come to the right place.  Hydrocodone dependence can develop after only a few weeks of using hydrocodone daily.  And if you’re physically dependent on hydrocodone, you can expect to experience hydrocodone withdrawal shortly after a missed or skipped dose. But what are the ways you can treat hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms?

What’s the best way to support the body’s process of recovery from hydrocodone dependency? Plus, should you necessarily seek treatments for hydrocodone addiction if you’re dependent on hydrocodone?  Here, we review the ways you can treat hydrocodone withdrawal and what you and your doctor can do to help ease symptoms. Then, we invite your question(s) about hydrocodone withdrawal treatment at the end.

Effects of withdrawal from hydrocodone

The effects of withdrawal from hydrocodone occur after physical dependence on hydrocodone is interrupted. During this time, opioid transmitters trigger a sort of battle in the central nervous system so that the body can begin to regulate itself without the presence of hydrocodone. In fact, effects of withdrawal from hydrocodone occur as the brain reorganizes its chemical messages. Why and how?

Opioids like hydrocodone work by disrupting opioid receptors in the brain. In effect, hydrocodone floods these receptors, which is why you experience blocked pain and increased serotonin gives you a relaxed and pleasant feeling throughout the body. However, over time your body develops a dependency on hydrocodone. This means that the central nervous system adapts to the presence of hydrocodone and hydrocodone becomes part of the normal body functioning. This is why when you stop taking hydrocodone, withdrawal symptoms result.

Withdrawal from hydrocodone symptoms

You can expect to feel withdrawal from hydrocodone symptoms shortly after a missed dose. You can expect to feel withdrawal from hydrocodone symptoms about three hours after the last dose has worn off. Severity of withdrawal depends on the level of dependency and/or abuse. Acute withdrawal from hydrocodone symptoms can peak at 72 hours after last dose and continue to affect you for a couple of weeks. There are a variety of symptoms you may experience withdrawing from hydrocodone. Symptoms of withdrawal from hydrocodone can include:

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

How to treat hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms

How you treat hydrocodone withdrawal depends on which stage of withdrawal you are trying to treat.

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1.Acute withdrawal symptoms need to be treated with urgency. This set of hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms includes the flu like symptoms that occur during the first week or two after you stop taking hydrocodone. You can treat this set of hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms using over the counter flu and cold medications as well as prescription medications. Propofol is used for sedation during rapid hydrocodone detoxification.Tramadol, methadone, buprenorphine, and naloxone are popular medications which occupy opioid receptors in the brain to either provoke orlessen severity of withdrawal symptoms. Medications like clonidine or Immodium are used treat specific hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms such as high blood pressure and diarrhea. Speak with your doctor for more treatment options during the acute stage of hydrocodone withdrawal.

2. Mid-term withdrawal symptoms, including mood disorders and sleeping problems are treated using a combination of therapies. Short acting sleep aids, acupuncture or other alternatives that aim to promote sleep can help. If you are having drug cravings or a hard time with your emotions, seeking support groups and talk therapy can help your mental state to have the strength to get through the process of withdrawal. Opiate substitution therapies might help, if hydrocodone use has been extensive. And if necessary, doctors can prescribe you with anti-depressants to address underlying mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.

3. Protracted withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances can last for weeks or months following withdrawal from hydrocodone. Fatigue, feeling down or emotionally blunted, and irritability as well as deficits in executive control functions can persist for months beyond the period of acute withdrawal. These hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can be treated first by having realistic expectation for yourself. Seek a diagnosis for possible mental health disorders which can be affecting you. Methadone or buprenorphine replacement treatments are also possible. Lifestyle changes for sleep problems are often beneficial. Engaging in physical and mental exercises which promote positive emotional states can reduce stress and nervousness. Learning new behaviors and habits through congitive behavioral therapy can help you cope with life without hydrocodone.

Best way to withdraw from hydrocodone

You do not need to experience pain during hydrocodone withdrawal needlessly. The best was to withdraw from hydrocodone is to have doses of hydrocodone tapered under the observation of a doctor over the course of several weeks. This method allows your body to compensate and slowly regain normalcy. It also minimizes the severity and intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Tapering down from hydrocodone allows time and space for doctors to address any lingering pain or other health complications which arise.

Tapering hydrocodone dosage might not be the best method, however, if you are someone with a psychological need or an addiction to hydrocodone. In these cases, you may want to stop hydrocodone cold turkey or seek outside non pharmacological help that can address psychological need while also treating physical withdrawal symptoms.

Hydrocodone withdrawal treatment questions

Still have questions about hydrocodone withdrawal treatment? Would you like to know more? Please ask any questions you may have here in the comments section and we will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: SAMHSA Advisory: Protracted Withdrawal
NCBI Tolerance and Withdrawal from Prolonged Opiate use
NCBI: Drug of Abuse Opiates
NCBI: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

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24 Responses to “Hydrocodone withdrawal treatment: How to treat hydrocodone withdrawal
6:46 am July 27th, 2014

I have been taking hydrocodone for about 3 years to help control acute knee and back pain. I take one pill when I get up in the morning, then another around 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. I also take an oxycodone before I go to bed, around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. I recently received injections in my knees, which is now controlling my pain; so on the first morning I woke up with tolerable pain, I didn’t take a pill. I didn’t take any pills all that day, night, or the next day. I never thought of myself as having to go through withdrawal, because I only took the pills to control physical pain. On the second night, I started having body shakes and a little breathlessness. I couldn’t sleep all night. The next night I still couldn’t sleep. I’ve had no pills, this is night 3 and my shakes have lessened some, but I still cannot sleep. I’m desperate for a good night’s sleep, and to stop the shaking. I’ve been able to get through the days by keeping very busy, eating healthy, and drinking lots of water. But now I’ve also developed painful diarrhea with stomach cramps. The injections have controlled my knee pain, and I will be getting back injections in a couple of weeks, so I don’t intend to take any more Lortab or Percocet. But now how do I get rid of these other horrible side-effects? Your help is greatly appreciated.

8:05 pm October 15th, 2014

I’ve been on Hydrocodone for a couple of years. I Currently have a 20 day supply of 120. I’m Out now and don’t see my doctor until next week. I Am going to not take anymore until I see her next week. Is everyone guaranteed to suffer withdrawal symtoms?

3:39 pm October 17th, 2014

Hello Michael. If you’ve been taking it for a couple of years, then yes, you’ll most probably feel withdrawal symptoms. Go to the local pharmacy and talk to a pharmacist about what you can do until you see your doctor again.

2:58 am October 31st, 2014

I have had an injury and was taking Norco 10/325 since March of 2014…..the medication is on back order however I do have a lesser dose of 5/325 available. I noticed within the past 24 hours I’m having extreme restlessness, and body aches. Aside from taking Motrin for the body aches, what can I do for small muscle spasms, and restlessness. I started the 5/325 but can compensate for what I was taking but I didn’t want to end abruptly. How long will this last? What steps should I take to control this, and how do I get off of it? Please and information would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

California Girl 2-19-15
6:14 am February 20th, 2015

I’ve been on Norphen 5-325 periodically for 2 months, then constant for past three months. When I tried to stop taking it for one whole day, I had severe muscle pains and involuntary muscle jerks at night. The inability to stop the pain and jerks without taking more meds made me more angry, anxious and sad. I have 28 pills left and want to stop. How do I do this? Give me a daily taper down schedule please. Doing this at home and want to be off it in two weeks..period!

5:08 pm March 2nd, 2015

Hello Cali Girl. Your organism has developed physical dependence to the medication. The general tapering schedule is cutting down 10% of your dose each week. I don’t think you have enough pills to do it that slowly, although it will greatly reduce the withdrawal discomfort. Visit the nearest pharmacy and talk to a pharmacist about the best over-the-counter medications you can use to treat the symptoms most efficiently.

7:50 am June 27th, 2015

I have gone from hydromorphone to hydrocodone and was taking 10, 5 mg a day and need to know how much methadone I need to detox off it and for how long

12:45 pm June 29th, 2015

Hi Sarah. This is an issue you should discuss with your doctor and get solid medical guidance on how you should taper hydrocodone and whether the use of methadone is recommended for you, personally.

2:25 am July 19th, 2015

I am a 79 year old white female who has had 3 back surgeries. I began taking prescribed hydrocodone about 15 years ago. I take 4 pills each day of Hydroco/acetamin 10-325 tab mal, generic for Norco. I have been on it for approximately 15 to 20 years. Would it be possible for me to stop. I know when I miss a dose I begin to get flu like symptoms and become extremely nervous. Do you think it is possible for me to stop taking the hydrocodone? I would really like to.

11:45 am July 21st, 2015

Hi Shirley. Do you still need the medication for pain management? If not, then you can discuss this with your doctor and get a tapering schedule that will help you gradually lower your doses until you finally stop taking hydrocodone completely. Your doctor can further prescribe medications that will assist you by lowering the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms, or suggest over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies that can help.

10:48 pm July 21st, 2015

I took 20mg of Hydrocodone daily (in 4 5mg doses) for two weeks -Should I expect bad withdrawal? I am in recovery, almost 4 years sober from alcohol -THANK YOU

1:38 pm July 22nd, 2015

Hi David. Yes, two weeks are enough time for your organism to get somewhat dependent on Hydrococone. You can expect withdrawal, but it won’t be as severe and risky as in long-term and chronic users. Any withdrawal effects that you may feel can be treated with general over-the-counter medications and a good rest.

4:53 am July 27th, 2015

I have been taking 15-20 mg of Hydrocodone 5/375 for 10-12 days. I do not need it anymore….do I taper down the dosage…and if so, how much? Additionally, what are the over the counter medications I would take?

2:35 pm August 7th, 2015

Hi Pat. Slow and gradual tapering is recommended mostly for those who’ve been using medications long-term. Ask a pharmacist at the pharmacy to help you drop doses down and can also suggest OTC’s when or if they occur.

STEVE with a healing wing
2:24 am August 4th, 2015

Four months ago I broke my elbow and had to have surgery to repair it. Afterwards, I started taking 10mg hydrocodone every 3 hours, then tapered down to 5mg hydrocodone pills for pain relief. this went on for 3 months. for the last month, I have been breaking the pills in half, taking 2.5mg every 4to5hrs. when I am late on a dose, my body starts aching. my muscles burn and are very tired. I am slowly weaning myself off the drug and want to be off by the end of august. do you have any advice or aids, suggestion or remedy for the side effects of the withdrawal symptoms? thanks 8\3\15

10:50 am August 4th, 2015

Hello STEVE. Hydrocodone withdrawal can trigger drug craving, as well as physical symptoms. Experts recommend NSAIDs, hot/cold treatments (gels, showers, sauna) or massage as non-narcotic alternatives for both withdrawal symptoms and symptoms related to pain. Speak with your local pharmacist for more suggestions and ideas on the best practices in getting off hydrocodone for good. Best of luck!

7:13 pm September 27th, 2015

My husband has been on hydrocodone for several years because of pain after 5 back surgeries, both hips totally replaced, and rotator cuff surgery. His orthopaedic surgeon prescribed hydrocodone 5mg/325, 3 times a day, plus he later prescribed a Fentanyl patch 50 mg. My husband took it for several years with no problems. This year the orthopaedic surgeon informed my husband that he would no longer be prescribing hydrocodone, only the Fentanyl patch. My husband has always been in pain, the hydro and patch did help decrease his pain. My husband mentioned to our family doctor (Internal Medicine) that his pains were getting worse, so this doctor increased the hydro to 10/325 (3 times a day) about 2 months ago. Husband started sleeping more, feeling weak. This past Friday he fell in our bedroom when he got up, his foot got tangled in the blanket. EMS took him to the ER; doctor said that my husband looked like he had overdosed; ran tests and all were normal. Doctor ordered small dose of Narcar to reverse effects of narcotics, given through IV. Doctor said it would not clean him out completely. My husband began yelling horribly, twisting and turning. That lasted a good while. Doctor said to cut hydro in half, (5/325), not to quit cold turkey and to see a neurologist. Yesterday evening, and most of the night, and this morning, my husband has been saying things that don’t make sense, and at times seems scared. He imagines things. How long does detox take? Will he be taken off hydro? Thank you for your time and your answer to my questions. God bless you. Mrs. Medina

3:25 pm October 8th, 2015

I have been taking 10mg hydrocodone for three years for neck shoulder and back pain. At first I only took one a day . After a year and a half I started taking more three to four a day. I am now up to 6-9 a day. I know this is a TERRIBLE addiction now. I am scared to withdrawl. I have only taken 4-5 in the past three days and I am desperate to quit . I have to work bartending Fri-Mon at a high volume stressful job. I know there is no time I can take off for recovery . Are there any herbal remedies or over the counter medications to help me seen off of these pills. I feel like I am in a prison that I just want to be free of.

10:11 pm June 7th, 2016

I am withdrawing from a high dose of narco. I took six pills a day, two in the morning, two in the afternoon and two at night. The dose is 7.5. I have been taking this amount for nearly a year. I am totally addicted to it, my pain management doctor set up a severely limiting amount of does, beginning with one pill every six hours for two days; 1 tablet three times daily for two days. 1 tab every twelve hours for two days. 1 tab every then one tab daily. It seems a bit fast for my type of dependance with this drug. Can you help me? Is this the normal procedure for getting clean?

I also am bipolar with mania and depression. I am treated well by a psyfcjatrist and have let him know about the abrupt withdrawal recommendation. It has caused mania in me before when I could not take my normal dose, which is high. They are going to try to fix the problem by deadening the nerves that are arthritic and cause me so much pain. This procedure is supposed to work with eliminating the source of my pain. What do you think?
But with me there is another source of great pain to me and that is two pinched nerve roots that effect my neck my shoulder, my upper arm to the elbow. And this is intense excruciating pain. This they don’t have an awser to: How will I be treated from this pain that will respond supposedly to a big awful surgery. I am 57 years old and I will not agree on surgery here. I will hope that I will be treated again with another type of narcotic perhaps. Something must done about that nerve pinching. It can effect my driving without notice. It is dangerous to be in pain here without treatment, I will need to go back on a narcotic, perhaps of another type than narco. These treatments with narco took care of the pain and I did not become addicted by taking more than prescribed.

7:53 pm February 12th, 2017

Someone I know quit Vicodin cold turkey three years ago.. She developed some two years ago heavy, constant sweating. Anything she can do to alleviate this?

7:47 pm May 21st, 2017

I have been on Perocet 10/325 for over 6 years 4 pills a day. I’m trying to stop. I am going through withdrawal-Face Numbness, very nervous,focusing bad, and sleep promblems. Can you send me a Tapering Schedule to safely come off this drug. Please ASAP send me information on best way to stop this medication.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:34 pm May 26th, 2017

Hi Barbara. The best way to quit Percocet is by slowly tapering the daily drug dosage. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Then, consult with a pharmacist to recommend some over-the-counter aid, vitamins and supplements, teas, hot baths, etc to ease withdrawal. Finally, take a look into our free e-book ‘How To Quit Opioid Painkillers’ to learn more about the quitting process, here:

6:05 am June 13th, 2017

I am down to 4 oxycodon 10mg a day and I need advice on how to taper down from here to get off these things for good. PLEASE HELP! I am a prisoner to these things and I want my life back. Any advice would be much appriciated!

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:06 pm June 13th, 2017

Hi Tina. You may want to consult with your doctor to help you create an individualized tapering schedule first. Then, fell free to call the helpline displayed on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant. Finally, download our FREE e-book How To Quit Opioid Painkillers to learn more about quitting opioids.

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