Hydrocodone withdrawal side effects

We review the difference between normal hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms and side effects of hydrocodone detox here.

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Headache. Anxiety. Extreme body pain. Hot and cold flashes. Achiness.

Normal signs of a typical hydrocodone detox? Or possible signs that withdrawal treatment needs to be adjusted? We review the differences between typical signs of hydrocodone withdrawal versus hydrocodone withdrawal side effects here.

Hydrocodone withdrawal: Symptoms vs. side effects

During withdrawal, it may be difficult to tell the difference between normal symptoms and side effects of treatment. This is because medications which are given to help ease symptoms can cause new or additional symptoms on top of the withdrawal. So how can you tell the difference between the two?

Well, you need the help of a doctor.

Medical detox staff are in charge of prescribing, administering and monitoring medications used during detox. Staff members should meet with you a few hours after you take your first dose of any medication used to assist your detox, and then regularly for a week or two after that. These meetings are to make sure the medication is working, that side effects are not too uncomfortable, and that you are taking medication exactly as told. If detox meds are not working as expected, doctors can adjust the dose up or down or prescribe a different medication. Symptoms similar to withdrawal may manifest as your doctor makes adjustments to dosing or medication types.

Expected symptoms during hydrocodone withdrawal

  • anxiety or nervousness
  • diarrhea
  • muscle aches and pains
  • sleep problems
  • stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
  • sweating more than normal
  • weakness
  • yawning

Side effects of hydrocodone withdrawal medications

Most hydrocodone withdrawal medications address the symptoms of withdrawal themselves and are used in the first 7-10 days of acute detoxification. Doctors expect the medications to make withdrawal more comfortable and for side effects to be minimal. Here’s a brief look at common medications and their uses.

Buprenorphine – occupies opiate nerve receptors where hydrocodone used to bind, managing cravings

Clonidine – controls autonomic symptoms of withdrawal such as restlessness, sweating, runny nose and watery eyes and shortens withdrawal duration

Dicyclomine hydrochloride – used to treat abdominal cramps and cramping

Diphenoxylate – used to treat diarrhea

Hydroxyzine – basic relief from most of the symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal, but especially nausea and vomiting

Loperamide – used to treat diarrhea

Methadone – blocks withdrawal symptoms

Methocarbamol – used to treat muscle cramps and joint pain

Promethazine – used to treat nausea and vomiting

Trazodone – used to treat depression and anxiety

But keep in mind that some medications used during hydrocodone withdrawal such as methadone can cause drowsiness and other central nervous system effects. If drowsiness is present, you should avoid operating motor vehicles. And if drowsiness continues to be a problem, your doctor may adjust dose levels. Other minor side effects include sleep problems, dry mouth and upset stomach.

You’ll know that you’ve found the right medication during hydrocodone withdrawal when you feel normal, experience minor or no side effects, do not feel withdrawal, and have hydrocodone cravings under control. Until then, some of the most common side effects of hydrocodone withdrawal medications include:

  • drowsiness
  • sleep problems
  • upset stomach

Questions about hydrocodone withdrawal side effects

Do you still have questions about the side effects of hydrocodone withdrawal? Or maybe you’re wondering about hydrocodone drug test times and how long hydrocodone stays in your system after withdrawal.  Please ask us here. we invite your questions, feedback and comments. And will either find you an answer or refer you to an expert if you ask!

Reference sources: Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
End of Life Palliative education Resource Center from the Medical College of Wisconsin topic on opioid withdrawal
Hydroxyzine for the Treatment of Acute Opioid Withdrawal: A 20-Year Clinical Experience
Harvard Medical School topic on Treating Opiate Addiction
Federation of Texas Psychiatry:  Office based opioid withdrawal techniques


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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