How does hydrocodone work?

Scientists still don’t know exactly how hydrocodone works. In general, hydrocodone works as an opiate agonist by changing the way the brain and body perceive pain. More here on hydrocodone’s action on the central nervous system.

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Hydrocodone affects the body and brain by interacting as an opiate agonist at specific receptor binding sites in the central nervous and other tissues. Does hydrocodone have the same effects for everyone? And how can you make hydrocodone work better. We explore here and invite your questions about hydrocodone at the end.

How does Hydrocodone work in the body?

Hydrocodone is an opioid medication used to help treat mild to moderate pain but which can also suppress the cough reflex. Specifically, For example, hydrocodone causes pain relief causes suppression of the cough reflex by a direct effect on the cough center in the medulla of the brain. Hydrocodone also appears to exert a drying effect on respiratory tract mucosa and to increase visocity of bronchial secretions.

Some possible effects of hydrocodone on the body include:

  • bradycardia
  • cough supression
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • hyperglycemia
  • loss of consciousness
  • shallow breathing
  • impaired coordination
  • slowed heart rate
  • nausea/vomiting
  • urinary urgency

Can you overdose on hydrocodone? Yes. However, the more serious and life-threatening side effects of taking hydrocodone are more likely to occur when hydrocodone is not taken as directed. Most people taking hydrocodone as directed experience only mild side effects.

How does Hydrocodone affect the brain and nervous system?

Hydrocodone is a central nervous system depressant, which means that it slows brain activity when taken. More specifically, hydrocodone is an opium-derived synthetic substance which affects the body by altering brain activity. And as an opiate agonist, hydrocodone exerts its principal pharmacologic effect on the central nervous and on the intestines. But what actually happens in the brain when you take hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone interacts as an agonists at specific neurotransmitter receptor binding sites, specifically with subtypes of opiate receptors such as:

1. The delta-receptor, which is localized in the limbic regions of the CNS

2. The mu-receptor, which is localized in pain modulating regions of the CNS

3. The the kappa-receptor, which is localized in the deep layers of the cerebral cortex

4. The sigma-receptor, which is thought to mediate the dysphoric and psychotomimetic effects of some opiate partial agonists

Hydrocodone binds to these opiate receptors in the brain, numbing feelings of pain and can also cause a euphoric “high.” But people who get high on hydrocodone have more chances of becoming addicted to hydrocodone than those who use hydrocodone as prescribed.

How fast does Hydrocodone work

Hydrocodone hits its peak blood plasma levels after about 1.3 hours. Some people crush and snort the powder from hydrocodone tablets to try to get more immediate effects, but this is dangerous and puts them at greater risk for adverse effects or potential overdose.

How long does Hydrocodone work?

Hydrocodone is taken as needed, generally every 4-6 hours. However, hydrocodone will wear off more quickly in some people than in others. Similarly, hydrocodone detection time in urine is relatively short (not more than a couple of days at most).

What makes Hydrocodone work better

Although you take hydrocodone as needed, there are a few warnings for taking hydrocodone. Hydrocodone needs to be taken exactly as directed. That means it can’t be crushed, chewed, or snorted – when it’s taken in any of these ways, more of the drug than is safe may be released into the bloodstream, leading to a potential overdose. Additionally, hydrocodone should not be taken along with other central nervous system depressants. Alcohol or benzodiazepines can cause excessive drowsiness and make it easier to overdose.

Does Hydrocodone work for everyone?

No, Hydrocodone is not right for everyone. Hydrocodone is an addictive durg, and it’s not recommended for those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Some people may experience serious side effects to Hydrocodone. There may be other medications you’re taking which prevent you from using Hydrocodone, so always check with your pharmacist when starting a new medication. Anyone who experiences problems while taking Hydrocodone should talk to their doctor immediately.

How hydrocodone works questions

Do you still have questions about how hydrocodone works? Please leave your questions, comments or experiences with hydrocodone here. We’ll be happy to answer your questions ASAP with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: DEA: Hydrocodone
Medline Plus: Hydrocodone
Toxnet: Hydrocodone
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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