Tuesday February 20th 2018

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What is hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a a semi-synthetic opioid derived from codeine. Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers. It is a Schedule II or Schedule III drug (this varies as a result of different formulations) available only in combination with other ingredients, specifically intended for oral use. In fact, hydrocodone is contained in hundreds of prescription medications as an active ingredient.

Hydrocodone comes as a tablet, a capsule, syrup, a solution, an extended-release (long-acting) capsule, and an extended-release (long-acting) suspension (liquid) to take by mouth.

Why do people use hydrocodone?

Doctors prescribe hydrocodone as a narcotic analgesic (pain reliever) and a cough medicine, usually combined with paracetamol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen.  Basically, hydrocodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain and as a medicine to treat cold and cough.

However, many hydrocodone users take higher doses to achieve a sense of extreme well-being and euphoria. But taking hydrocodone OTHER THAN PRESCRIBED is considered drug abuse and is illegal.

Hydrocodone effects

When used as prescribed and with caution, hydrocodone relieves pain by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It also relieves cough by decreasing activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing.

In higher doses, one of the most common effects of this narcotic is a warm and pleasant numbing sensation that stretches throughout the body. At the same time, many report a warming of the abdominal area, and sometimes a pleasant cooling in the lungs.

Hydrocodone may also cause side effects, upon which a patient should consult with a doctor and probably stop using the medication. Some possible negative side effects of hydrocodone include:

  • anxiety
  • constipation
  • impaired brain activity
  • impaired lung function
  • nausea
  • rashes
  • vomiting

There is also a deadly side to hydrocodone abuse. If users take too many pills or if they mix hydrocodone with other drugs or alcohol (especially central nervous system depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines), the outcome can be fatal. Also, in long-term users, the body builds up tolerance to the prescription medication. Increased tolerance to hydrocodone after daily dosing for a period of a few weeks or more can increase risk of overdose. When abused for a longer period, hydrocodone causes liver damage and liver failure, which can also lead to death.

Is hydrocodone addictive?

Yes, hydrocodone is addictive. Because of the euphoric effects it causes, people may develop patterns of abuse which lead to addiction. Even after only several weeks of use, people can develop physical and psychological dependence to hydrocodone. Symptoms common among hydrocodone addicts include:

  • compulsive use of hydrocodone
  • continued hydrocodone use despite the awareness of negative consequences to health, home, work or social life
  • craving hydrocodone
  • loss of control over dosing amounts and frequency
  • taking hydrocodone to cope with psycho-emotional issues

After your body and brain have become accustomed to the presence of the medication, you can experience hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms if you try to quit suddenly and abruptly. Consult your doctor before lowering doses or stopping altogether. Stopping hydrocodone is much safer when you taper doses down gradually and slowly, and treat symptoms as they occur. Your doctor can help you create a tapering schedule fit to your needs, or refer you to a hydrocodone detox center if you require extra medical help during this period.


36 Cold turkey hydrocodone

Cold turkey hydrocodone

February 25th, 2013

Going cold turkey off hydrocodone can be severe and is unnecessary. Learn more about cold turkey hydrcodone risks and benefits of tapering your doses first.

6 What is hydrocodone withdrawal?

What is hydrocodone withdrawal?

February 9th, 2013

Once you stop taking hydrocodone after regular use, a period of withdrawal will occur. Why? Because the brain compensates for opiate effects and suddenly speeds up when hydrocodone is no longer present. More on how hydrocodone affects on the central nervous system and body here.

2 Help for hydrocodone addiction

Help for hydrocodone addiction

December 10th, 2012

Here, we outline how to find and get help for hydrocodone addiction (starting with your family doctor). National hotline numbers and more ways to find help for hydrocodone addiction here.

2 How to treat hydrocodone addiction

How to treat hydrocodone addiction

November 7th, 2012

If you or a loved one is addicted to hydrocodone, how do you treat hydrocodone addiction? Here, we explore possible treatmentsfor hydrocodone addiction and what to expect from treatment. Your questions about addiction treatment are welcomed at the end.

12 Tolerance to hydrocodone

Tolerance to hydrocodone

October 16th, 2012

Tolerance to hydrocodone can develop over the course of several days to a month after you have started taking hydrocodone. More here on what’s considered a high tolerance to hydrocodone, as well as how tolerance differs from hydrocodone dependence and/or addiction.

241 How long does hydrocodone withdrawal last?

How long does hydrocodone withdrawal last?

October 12th, 2012

Acute hydrocodone withdrawal occurs within the first few days after your last dose. Symptoms usually peak around 72 hours after last dose and resolve within 7-10 days after last use. More on how long hydrocodone withdrawal lasts here.

26 Dependence on hydrocodone

Dependence on hydrocodone

September 30th, 2012

Hydrocodone dependence can develop as quickly as three (3) weeks after regular dosing begins. More here about dependence on hydrocodone and how it differs from addiction. Plus, a section for your questions about hydrocodone dependence at the end.

16 Smoking hydrocodone

Smoking hydrocodone

September 7th, 2012

What does smoking hydrocodone do to you? In this article, we’ll explore how it affects your body and just how safe smoking hydrocodone really is.

334 What are hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms?

What are hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms?

September 4th, 2012

Withdrawing from hydrocodone? Expect to experience hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms such as: sweating, mood changes, and diarrhea. More on why hydrocodone withdrawal happens and how to treat symptoms here.

20 How is hydrocodone prescribed?

How is hydrocodone prescribed?

August 17th, 2012

Hydrocodone can prescribed in many doses and combination formulas by an M.D. in an inpatient or outpatient setting, or in a pain management clinic. As an opiate medication used to help manage pain, hydrocodone is only available by prescription due to its addiction liability. More on how hydrocodone is prescribed here.

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25 Responses to “Hydrocodone
6:37 pm February 26th, 2016

If hydrocordone is snorted, will it still appear in a urine test in 3 to 5 days?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:40 pm March 3rd, 2016

Hi, Jag. Regardless of mode of administration, hydrocodone stays in the system and may be detected on a urine test up to 2-5 days.

6:56 pm March 26th, 2016

Will prescription use of hydrocodone test positive for codeine?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:08 pm April 7th, 2016

Hi Lane. Codeine will show up as an opiate.

4:13 am April 24th, 2016

When I was in my mid-40s and partying (once or twice a week) I would drink beer (up to perhaps eight or 10) and take vicodin (maybe four or five over a six-hour period) and on the same take day I would take perhaps 10 altogether over 24 hpurs. I could drink much more without feeling or acting drunk, however I must have been. Also, any hangovers were minimized with a vicodin in the a.m. The other days (five or six days a week) I didn’t drink alcohol at all but I still took vicodin (six or eight a day). Why did I never have those reactions or responses that were typical. I have never read of anyone with my reactions. Its been 20 years now and have never had an answer to this question. I’d love to know.

2:23 am June 15th, 2016

Hi everyone, I’ve recently quit taking vicodin.. I’ve been abusing vicodin for close to 13 years. I’d been in the same situation about 20 years ago (hard to believe) and only started again the night my Dad died. Thank goodness I was vicodin free the three years he was sick (cancer) and I was able to help my Mom care for him. We had a vicodin rx for him but I was never once tempted until he lay dying. I’m a Daddy’s girl and I just decided I needed to be fortified that night. But that started the addiction again. Not that vicodin ever really made anything better. Seriously, I never felt great when I was taking it, it just felt like kind of a shield. For family gatherings, or social occasions I felt like I would enjoy it only if I had vicodin. My rx was for 5/325. I never took more than one at a time but I’ve taken up to 10 in a day. Over the last few months, my doctor has reduced the number of refills. . I guess I’ve been pondering the problem for a few months and when my supply was running low this past two weeks and I had another 2 weeks before I could expect a refill I just started dosing down. I was just sick of it but of course terrified of withdrawals. When I quit 20 years ago it was cold turkey and I was just freaked out. This time I took 1/2 a pill twice a day and than once a day and then my last 1/2 pill was sunday. I’ve been taking effexor and wellbutrin for a few years and also some xanax and ambient and I’ve been taking some of the supplements recommended in the Thomas recipe too. I’m not feeling too bad

3:56 am September 5th, 2016

I go to a pain clinic and they drug test every month for 3 or 4 months my drug test come back negative for hydrocodone but I take them daily as prescribed. It was recently brought to my attention that water pills can cause a false drug screen Is that true?

1:05 pm September 7th, 2016

Hi Karen. Water pills may be the cause for a false drug screen because they help your body get rid of the unneeded water. Did you tell the toxicologist that you use water pills? Every time before taking drug test, tell the professionals which medications you use because they may affect the test results.

10:03 pm October 17th, 2016

i had to take a test regarding hydrocodone yet that did not show up on my test morphine did is there a reason for that I need to know now my doctor basically thinks otherwise of me

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:26 pm October 21st, 2016

Hi Julie. Hydrocodone is a semisynthetic opioid in combination with acetaminophen. Also, morphine is an opioid, so maybe there’s connection. I suggest that you speak with a toxicologist for better understanding. Also, you may find useful information regarding drug testing in our free e-book.
Download it here: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/the-definitive-guide-to-drug-testing/

Dennis C
6:04 am November 16th, 2016

I have been taking Norco for awhile. My previous doctor prescribed it for pain on my right side that includes my neck, arm, back and hip. When it is really bad it also feels like I have a really bad ear ache. I have had everything from x rays to MRIs and everything in between. We have also tried every kind of pain reliever from Motrin to Gabapentin and a bunch of non narcotic and narcotic pain relievers. Most of them either didn’t work as well as the Norco or gave me intense upset stomach problems. I have tried acupuncture and massage which didn’t work well at all. After all the tests and trials my doctor diagnosed nerve damage along with other problems. My doctor retired leaving me in the lurch and another doctor is working out of his office until January. She sent me for more x rays and more MRIs and tests and agreed with his diagnosis and kept prescribing the Norco 10/325 which I take 6 times a day along with over the counter Aleve which does not upset my stomach like the prescription Tramadol. I also am a type 2 diabetic and so I have an appointment every 3 months. At my last appointment she told me that she was just on contract with this medical group and would be leaving the practice and retiring this January. She also told me that the doctor that was taking over the practice would not be very likely to continue prescribing the Norco for me even after all the tests I have been though and all of the diagnosis. All I know is that I don’t abuse the drug and the combination of Norco and Aleve works for me better than anything we have tried in the past. I just can’t understand why doctors would end pain management that works for me with no ill effects. Is it because it is so abused and vilified that the doctor would rather see me suffer with the pain and the side effects of other treatments and just not bother with me? I don’t know what I’m going to do after January. I know that my medical insurance won’t pay for more of the exact same tests all over again if this new doctor wants them and some of them like MRIs are really expensive. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

1:26 am February 23rd, 2017

I took 11 hydrocodene 10mg orally, how long before it is out of my system as I have to take a urine drug test soon?

5:52 pm February 24th, 2017

Hello Pete. Hydrocodone can usually be detected in urine for 2-4 days after you stop use. However, this depends on how much you used, how often, how high was the dosage, your metabolism, etc. The time period for detection can be shortened or prolonged based on these factors.

8:03 pm March 12th, 2017

I am on norco 10/325 3 times a day for years in pain management and last test i was lower dosed but never went 24hrs without last 3 days before test was tues 5 and half , last one late and wed 1 and half and thursday before 8am test the next day went like this 5am half 1pm and midnight half and didnt pee until 8 am test so i was in 8-24 detection period with 10mg total but split up til test will it test positive without saying low because i have tested with high levels and low and they never said nothing and they use the opiod twat that tells exactly which pain pill is in urine and i read hydrocodone levels cant show in urine but saw u say it can so will my test show positive if i took pills that way and they also do not check for marijuana so im not sure if they only check every opiod pill specifically

5:34 am April 4th, 2017

My Doctor prescribes me 150 Norco per month for pain. I’m in need of two knee replacements and have severe arthritis in both knees. I’m fearful that with all the drama involved with Doctor’s prescribing opiates that my Doctor will cut me off. I’ve tried other pain relievers and find that Norco works the best for me. I do not take more than I’m prescribed and mostly do not take more than two to four tablets daily. Any commetns?

9:17 pm July 8th, 2017

I tested positive for hydrocodone after taking a tylenol number 4. I had also with in a day or so of taking the Tylenol#4 taken 1mg of lorazepam. I have a valid RX and have never abused my medication.
The drug screen came back as positive morphine,hydromorphone,and hydrocodone. I found out that these were known metabolites of tylenol with codeine. I did not previously know that information.
. I am an RN of 29 years who has lost her job over this and I have not done anything wrong.
I am told the metabolite for the hydrocodone was too high. That I must have taken something else. to get that result.
I swear I have never taken any medication that I was not prescribed. I have been routinely drug .tested with no problem. I have never been disciplined at work for anything either.
Now I have lost my job. I am physically and emotionally sick over this situation.
A list of meds I take routinely take include simvastatin ,lisinopril hctz ( I sometimes do not take this if traveling, due to availability of restrooms) Tylenol # 4 up to 4 times a day ONLY IF NEEDED, ONE tramadol per day,(if I am not hurting I have occassionally forgotten to take it) and ativan 1 mg only if needed. (i just finished an awful divorce). I know that this looks like a lot of medication but I only take them PRN and Never at work. Not usually together either. I also have PRN ambien. I used it regularly with the divorce issues.
I do not smoke cigarettes or anything else, I have never tried illicit drugs in my life, I do not have any tattoos, although I have admired some on other people. I only drink alcohol occasionally.
I felt like my work as an RN and caregiver was my true calling from God and I absolutely love it. I am also a Christian and can not believe that this has happened to me.
PLEASE PLEASE send me any information on why a positive level deemed high ( I do not know the level I am accused of Taking) I just know I never took any hydrocodone.
Last but definitely important. is that I have had listed on all of my medical records and pharmacy profiles for 20 years that I am allergic to Vicodin. (with the birth my first son that medicine made me itch to the point of wanting to claw my skin off and so nauseaous I could barely move).
Why would I take a drug that I have consistently and diligently avoided?
Again if some one could give me answers I would greatly appreciate it. The Board of Nursing is determining if they should take my license.
I have lost jobs, health Insurance, and definitely peace of mind.
I swear I did not take hydrocodone and do not know why it showed up like they are telling me it has.
Thank you and be blessed today,


Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:22 pm July 28th, 2017

Hi Kathleen. I suggest that you consult with you doctor as well as with lab technician. Also, you may download our free e-book on drug testing to learn more about positive levels: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/the-definitive-guide-to-drug-testing/

8:24 pm July 13th, 2017

I took my usual second hydrocodone pill last night and fasted this morning before seeing the doctor. he informed me that my test was negative and I had to take a blood test for which I will get the results in several days. then he informed me he would no longer be my doctor and would not give me another prescription. how can this be? there wasw another sample in the door where I put the urine. the only thing I can think of is they tested the wrong sample.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:43 pm July 19th, 2017

Hi Bobby. Did you use water pills? Sometimes, this kind of medications can cause false negative. Download our free e-book ‘The Definitive Guide To Drug Testing’ to learn the causes of false negative: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/the-definitive-guide-to-drug-testing/

9:49 pm December 12th, 2017

I took 4 5mg lortabs Tuesday night and have a grug urine test I have to take this Friday. I haven’t taken any in awhile before and I only weigh about 150. Do you think I can pass my test?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:09 pm December 15th, 2017

Hi Hunter. Hydrocodone can be present in the saliva 12 – 36 hours after last dose or 2 – 4 days in the urine. Hydrocodone is also present in the hair for up to 90 days after last dose. If you want to learn more, download our free e-book on drug testing here: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/the-definitive-guide-to-drug-testing/

Worried sister & daughter
9:11 am December 19th, 2017

Hey I have a little brother that is 37yrs old, he has been addicted to pain pills for about 7 or so years, & he is also on other medication for panic disorder, and he’s over weight, well I really need some help for him, & especially my mom cause now he’s so bad that if he don’t have any pills, or money, then he starts going off on my mama, & it has gotten to the point where if she tells him she doesn’t have the money he puts his hands on her throws stuff at her, verbal abuses her, & she is scared of him, I’ve called different places to get him help but they all say he has to come in willingly but that ain’t going to happen, is there anywhere I can put him, he is on disability & I don’t want him to loose it, but I’m scared if he doesn’t get help soon he’s going to really hurt or kill my mom or his self or both

Maria @ Addiction Blog
5:23 pm December 22nd, 2017

Hi Worried sister & daughter. When there is an addicted person in the family who is violent, the best way to protect yourself is to report it in the police. You can also contact the Department of Family and Social Services at: http://www.in.gov/fssa/2404.htm

9:24 pm January 21st, 2018

I take 4mg of SUBUTEX a day, Can i take Any HYDROCODONE for Break through pain?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:46 pm January 22nd, 2018

Hi MJ. I suggest that you consult with your doctor about this.

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