Cold turkey hydrocodone

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.

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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.

Drug Enforcement Administration Drug of Concern: Hydrocodone
State of Iowa: Talking about prescription drug misuse
NCBI: Abuse Opiates
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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