How is hydrocodone prescribed?

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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Hydrocodone is prescribed by medical doctors as an effective pain relieving narcotic medication. In fact, you cannot buy hydrocodone over-the-counter in the U.S. but must see a doctor for medical reasons related to pain or injury in order to obtain hydrocodone.

More here on how hydrocodone works in the body, how hydrocodone is prescribed, dosing guidelines and hydrocodone costs. Plus, we invite your questions about Vicodin prescriptions at the end.

What do doctors prescribe hydrocodone for?

Hydrocodone is a prescription drug used to manage mild to moderate pain. Hydrocodone works by altering the way that pain is perceived in the brain by interacting with the opioid receptors of the central nervous system. But hydrocodone can also cause feelings of euphoria, which often causes it to be abused. How much hydrocodone is addictive varies by individual, but this is why you MUST see a doctor in order to be prescribed hydrocodone. Doctors screen patients and monitor hydrocodone medical use in order to try to prevent misuse, hydrocodone drug addiction and drug related injuries.

Hydrocodone prescription dosage

The amount of hydrocodone you are prescribed as well as type of combination formula your doctor recommends depends heavily on a number of different factors. If you haven’t had previous exposure to hydrocodone, you’ll be started on a fairly low dose. There’s also a number of different medications which use hydrocodone, which may also mix it with other medications such as non steriodal anti inflammatory aids (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin. All of these factors can affect the dosage of the hydrocodone.

Hydrocodone prescription cost

As with any prescription drug, the end total cost of a hydrocodone prescription will depend on your insurance. However, hydrocodone is usually relatively inexpensive – in the $20 range for enough pills for a week or two, which is all you’d typically need after a minor procedure or illness. Hydrocodone might also be a component in a name brand medication, in which case the cost might be higher.

Can you get Hydrocodone over the counter?

No. Hydrocodone is available by prescription only. Hydrocodone is addictive, and only prescribed to people experiencing pain which can’t be helped by over-the-counter medication.  Plus, you can get physically dependent on hydrocodone and tolerant to the drug, making how to stop taking hydrocodone safely complex and difficult.

Signs of Hydrocodone prescription drug abuse

Hydrocodone can be abused for the euphoric high, or intense feeling of well-being that it creates in the pleasure center of the brain.A person who abuses hydrocodone regularly can easily become addicted to this narcotic. Hydrocodone addicts experience a psychological compulsion to seek out the drug, even when it has negative effects on their personal or professional life.

If you use hydrocodone to help manage pain, you might develop a tolerance and dependence on the medication, and be unable to stop taking it abruptly, which is not always a sign of addiction. These are signs of physical dependence. But as long as drug cravings are not present after the drug is out of your body, you do not need to worry about hydrocodone drug addiction.

Hydrocodone prescription questions

Do you still have questions about Hydrocodoneprescriptions? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

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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  1. I am a quadriplegic c6-c7 for seven years and have hrdrocone 5/325 on hand to take as needed. Hardly used any the first few years out but lately the neuropathy and spasms have increased. I have been on neurontin/gabapentin since the accident but have had to increase the dosage every year. It gets less effective and I hesitate to increase the dosage (currently take 2400m) even though the physiatrist said increasing gabapentin is preferable to taking more hydro. Do you agree? Right now I take a 5 hydro at night (the absolute only way I can sleep) 2-3 times a week. I’m really nervous about addiction. I hoped to sub it for an otc sleeping pill but they didn’t work. Should I ask for a prescription of sleeping aid instead of hydro? I would gladly take 1 hydro a night to sleep but pretty nervous to. I DESPERATELY want to sleep well at least 5 nights a week!!
    Thanks for giving me a place to vent :). You often suggest taking these issues to my Dr. and I intend to do that on my appt. next month but I ran across this sight and would like another opinion. Thank you again.

  2. I am on pain medication due to a life long disease. The Pain Medication made my life worth living. The only problem I have is when I need to go to the ER I am treated like a drug addict by the nurses who are there to help me. These people need to be educated about the use of pain medication not everyone who needs pain medication is a drug addict. I had one even cut a shot of morphine in half that the ER doctor had ordered. I didn’t realize what he had done until I left the hospital and was reading through the paper work they had given me. This same male nurse treated me horrible while I was laying on the table in pain. I had just had surgery on my back the day before and my ribs were hurting. I had called the surgeon and told him I though my ribs were broken and all he said to me was I don’t do ribs and hung up. My husband then decided to take me to the ER where they found 6 broken ribs. I was admitted to the hospital to control the pain. I stayed for 5 days.

  3. My Son has had two back surgeries and has been taking hydrocodone. His surgeries were this past March and was prescribed 8 hydrocodone per day. He is now taking 4 a day.It has been 7 months that he has been taking these. I am concerned.

  4. I need some hydrocodone for pain 4rm wreck the only thing they gave me is Tylenol 3. Doesnt work do you know a doc in dallas that will help?

    1. Hi Chris. You may want to speak with your doctor first. Then, if s/he doesn’t want to adjust the dose, search new doctor or even look for a pain clinic.

  5. I have been on Norco for about a year now, with taking up to 2 a day for neck problems. Just went to the dentist for infected tooth. He gave me 2 scripts, 1 for Amoxicillin and the other Norco for the pain. Since I already have a script filled at the beginning of the month from my pain Dr., will the Pharmacy fill the one from my Dentist?

    1. Hi Sandra. Since the scripts are from different doctors for different problems, it seems to me that the Pharmacy may fill you out.

  6. I suffered a mild stroke just about the same time as when my Pain Center cut me off completely from Hydrocodon-apap/Acetaminophen 7.5/325 4 times a day . They left me to locate another pain specialist with 0 pills a day for over a month. When I got the new doctor, she gives me only 2 of the same prescription a day.
    I have osteoarthritis in my knees, hips ,lumbar, cervical, and shoulder areas. The bones grind together in my knees, back and shoulders. There’s little hope of regrowing the cartilage even with stem-cell therapy.

  7. I have a new Dr. And he wants me to make an appt. and sit in the office for an hour and then give me prescription for hydrocodone, My other Doctor said your script will be waiting for you to pickup every month at front desk but u have to pick up personally. I have recently had 4 fractures on pelvis 3 on spine and been taking hydrocodone for 18 years for hip problem. Can u tell me the procedure that a DR. does to prescribe hydrocodone. Do I have to make appt and sit in office until he sees u, or could leave in front desk for me to pickup with proper ID.

    1. Hello Nelson. I’ve read other people’s comments complaining about the same. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just some doctor’s practice or may be related to some new regulation in prescribing hydrocodone.

  8. Hello Robin. People use hydrocodone for years to manage their chronic pain, and doctors prescribe it throughout those years. Doctors consider hydrocodone use for over six consecutive months to be long term use. The effects of long term use of this medication are still not fully researched and yet to be defined. But, how long a doctor will continue prescribing pain medications?! Only the doctor can decide based on his/her better judgement.

  9. Hello Dianna. I’d suggest that you check in with your prescribing doctor with your concerns about physical dependence (which is not the same as addiction). There are assessments that can be made, but you’ll need medical assistance and professional help in making your decision on continued use.

  10. I have been taking hydrocodone for 2 years, 10 mg every 6 hours for pain. I have Polymyositis and osteoporosis( because I have been on steroids for 30 years for the Polymyositis) I know I am physically addicted because when ever I miss a dose or two my body starts feeling strange I am not psychologically addicted. This concerns me ,should I try getting off of them or just decide that since they help with the pain I should just live with them? I have not had any today and I am really dragging. I am still on fentanyl patches 75 mcg. I am suppose to change then every 3 days, but because of cost I wear them for about 7 days. I do not get euphoric on either of these meds. There are time that i don’t even think they touch the pain. I reaaly just want to know should I woryy that my body is addicted to the hydrocodone?

  11. Ho Joyce. You might want to make an appeal and ask for a hair sample test, which can detected oxycodone in your system for 90 days or more…but it may be at your own expense. These tests show drug use over time and can give your doctor a look at a longer period of Hydrocodone use.

  12. I am a 74 yr old woman with severe arthritis in all large joints and many smaller ones. I started suffering from it in my late twenties. I take 1 5 night along with 5 mgs. of ambian to help get a few hours sleep. when I went to pick up a prescription week before last I was given a urine test. When I went to my doctor for a checkup last week he informed me that there had been a problem with my urine sample and it had been called “tampered with”. He had been given a letter to sign and send to me informing me that he could no longer be my doctor because of this!
    He had stated that he would not sign it or send it until he had had a chance to talk to me and that it was completely out of character for me. The report says the sample was clear like water, no creatinine and showed no from the Hydrocodone (of which I was speaking up above when I only metioned the dosage of 5 mgs.) or the ambian. After being tested in the office he said the normal protocol was to send to lab if it was suspect and he didn’t kno why mine wasn’t. I am devastated and seem to have no recourse. I told him that someone had made a very bad mistake or had purposely adulterated it. I would never even think of doing that and why should I.I had no reason to try to hide the low doses that I was taking. I was given another urine test but haven’t heard back.. I find myself briefly hoping that it will come back showing kidney failure, since that would clear me of tampering. I know that is rash thinking though. If he can’t be my doctor I may not get another one to treat my hypertension and arthritis and depression/anxiety as I have seen this one for years and he is familiar with all my problems. After this long discourse, could you advise me of any recourse to face my accusers and show test was invalid. I feel this must be happening to a lot of other people and it seems un-American to be accused and convicted convicted and sentenced without being even unable to deny my guilt! The only answer I can come up with is that the sample was purposely watered down by some sick or spiteful person. Wouldn’t that be a criminal action?I am feeling quite paranoid now. Someone must have gotten the idea when they heard me come out of the bathroom and laugh and say that I had dog urine in my purse to take to the vet afterwards for my sick dog. A nurse said “you didn’t use that did you?” and I said of course not!! I wouldn’t have announced it if I had used that. The doctor said she had told I had stated that I had used dog urine!! I would have to be incredibly stupid to have said that! I’m sorry to write so much because no one will probably read all this but I had to try. I feel so helpless. This all happened on my 74th birthday! Thank you for any support.

  13. Hello Lindsay. Yes, tolerance to opioids like hydrocodone is possible after daily dosing. You can schedule an appointment with his prescribing doctor to report these symptoms and request a review of the Rx . It’s possible that another prescription or higher doses may be required. But beware that this can lead to more difficult withdrawal upon cessation and more intense side effects during dosing.

  14. My husband had surgery on his shoulder in 2012 and now has constant pain in that shoulder especially in humid or rainy weather. He was prescribed 7.5\325 hydrocodone and has been taking this same dose for about a year.until recently this med has worked but now instead of taking 6a day he says sometimes he uses 7 sometimes (rarely)8 to manage pain. Is it possible that his body had grown used to these? If so,what can be done? Should a dosage increase be asked for? My husband is a hard worker and always has been. He sweats a lot throughout the day drinking towards of a gallon of water a day. Would this have an affect on his meds? Any info would be appreciated. Thank you.

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