How to withdraw from hydrocodone

Practical suggestions for how to withdraw from hydrocodone safely. Plus. a section on How to ease withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone. More here.

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Hydrocodone is semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic and antitussive which is prescribed for severe pain. Hydrocodone is often mixed with ibuprofen or acetaminophen to provide pain relief. However, if you’re using hydrocodone daily for more than a few weeks, your body will get used to needing the drug and will develop physical dependence.

So how do you treat symptoms of withdrawal when you are ready to stop taking hydrocodone? Here we review hydrocodone withdrawal treatment and how to get off hydrocodone safely. Plus, more on how to withdraw from hydrocodone at home. Then, we invite your questions about hydrocodone abuse, withdrawal, or how to treat addiction to hydrocodone at the end.

When do you withdraw from hydrocodone?

Withdrawal occurs as the brain compensates for the opiate effect on the central nervous system. Hydrocodone decreases activity and responses in the body so when you stop taking it, your body reacts in an opposite way. You will go from calm and relaxed to restless and anxious. Withdrawal will occur any time you decide to stop taking hydrocodone or no longer have access to it. Why?

When you become physically dependent on any drug, the nervous system has integrated the medication into the normal functioning of the body. When you no longer need pain medication, or no longer have access to hydrocodone, or are trying to detox from abusing hydrocodone … withdrawal is an expected process of regaining normalcy in the body.

Withdraw from hydrocodone symptoms

There are a variety of symptoms you may experience withdrawing from hydrocodone. Symptoms include:

  • abnormal skin sensations
  • chills
  • confusion
  • excessive yawning or sneezing
  • extreme drowsiness
  • diarrhea
  • mood changes
  • seizures (more serious)
  • sleep disturbance
  • sweating
  • stomach pain
  • strong drug craving
  • sweating

During detox, you will need to treat these symptoms so that your body can reregulate itself without having to undergo needless pain and agony. There are many ways you can treat the varying symptoms of withdrawal. Also, keep an eye out or protracted withdrawal; acute symptoms that manifest after initial peak of symptoms.

How long to withdraw from hydrocodone?

It takes about a week, or so, to withdraw from hydrocodone. You will notice symptoms of withdrawal begin a few hours after your last dose has worn off. Withdrawal usually peaks at about 72 hours after your last dose, when acute symptoms are at their worst. Then, it takes a week before physical symptoms begin to even out and you can begin to feel more comfortable in your body.

However, once you have battled the physical effects of withdrawal, you will have to deal with possible psychological symptoms and the manifestation of drug craving, anxiety, and/or depression. These symptoms can take several weeks or months to resolve. If you have been using hydrocodone other than prescribed (abusing hydrocodone for euphoric effect), certain drug cravings may be present long past the initial period of withdrawal. Stopping hydrocodone use may also exacerbate any underlying mental health issues that haven’t been addressed, that while treatable, can also take a long time to resolve.

Can I withdraw from hydrocodone at home?

Yes, you can withdraw from hydrocodone at home. But not everyone can withdraw at home. Sometimes outside help or impatient programs are necessary. This is why it’s a good idea to have contact with a physician while you withdraw from hydrocodone.

Unlike alcohol dependency (which can be fatal) with opioid withdrawal is considered relatively safe. Tapering doses of hydrocodone and weaning yourself from the medication slowly are recommended processed. Tapering down minimizes the impact of withdrawal symptoms on the body as well.

If needed, you may be a candidate for stopping hydrocodone cold turkey. Cold turkey withdrawal can be painful and you will need the proper support in place to help your withdrawal process. Making sure you are treating all of your symptoms and giving yourself the space and time to do so are a necessity.

How to ease withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone

To ease withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone, you can treat each individual symptom. In fact, there are many over-the-counter medications you can get at your local pharmacy to help. Ibuprofen or Advil can help with aches and pain; hot packs or icy hot creams can help with the chills. Medications to take care of diarrhea and temporary sleep aids can get you through the initial phase of withdrawal so that you are not in agony. Passionflower is showing promise in helping anxiety and depression in people after acute withdrawal.

Prescription medications like naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone can also be used during hydrocodone withdrawal and detox. Eventually, they themselves will also need to be tapered out of the body and should only be used for severe dependency, if you are abusing hydrocodone, or have become addicted to the medication. Other times, you may need the support of short acting SSRI’s to alleviate anxiety and depression.

How to withdraw from hydrocodone safely

It is important the you have all the information you need to prepare for withdrawal. It is not a good idea to withdraw from hydrocodone without knowing what to expect and how to address possible symptoms. In fact, each individual goes through detox differently and it is important to treat yourself specifically so that you are supported during the process of withdrawal. Have a plan in place before you withdrawal.

The safest way to withdraw from hydrocodone is under medical supervision. If it is something that you are planning on doing, take time off of work. Talk with a doctor and discuss a timeline and know what to expect during different stages. The more information you have at your disposal, the safer you withdrawal is going to be. Be careful with the use of prescription medications and make sure that they are not contraindicative to your body system. For some, withdrawal at home may be possible. But others may need the support of a clinic to watch them through withdrawal to address possible violent reactions in the body.

The best way to withdraw from hydrocodone

One of the best ways to withdrawal from hydrocodone is through a process of tapering. This process works better for people who have a high motivation to quit using hydrocodone or have the necessary support to withdrawal without relapse. Tapering is a slow process of reducing doses over time while compensating for withdrawal symptoms. Tapering helps the central nervous system adapt slowly to the removal of hydrocodone to the point that you may not even feel withdrawal symptoms. While doses are being tapered, doctors can then help treat pain and symptoms that do arise. Otherwise, withdrawal while being monitored would be the next safest way to withdrawal from hydrocodone. That way, the person watching you can support your physical and mental welling being.

How to deal with withdrawal from hydrocodone questions

Any period of detox can be difficult. Do you still have question about hydrocodone withdrawal? Please ask any questions you may have and we will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: Passionflower in the treatment in opiate withdrawal
NCBI: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment
NCBI: Drug withdrawal syndrome
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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