Can you get addicted to hydrocodone?

Yes, you can get addicted to hydocodone. In fact, hydrocodone is one of the most abused prescription drugs in the U.S. More on how to avoid hydrocodone addiction here.

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Yes, you can get addicted to hydrocodone.

Many people use hydrocodone for pain relief as prescribed. But because hydrocodone can get you high, is as potent as morphine or codeine (see Vicodin vs. Codeine comparison charts) and because it is the most frequently prescribed opioid in the U.S., hydrocodone is frequently abused. Learn what you can do to prevent hydrocodone addiction here.

What medicines contain hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is frequently found in brand name formulations and in combination with other drugs such as acetaminophen. while hydrocodone itself is listed as a Schedule II drug by the DEA, it is only sold in combination formulations. Some of the more popular forms of medications that contain hydrocodone include:

  • Hycodan
  • Lorcet
  • Lortab
  • Tussionex
  • Vicodin

Hydrocodone dependence is expected (but not the same as addiction)

Any long term use of hydrocodone can lead to physical dependence on hydrocodone. But dependence on a drug is not enough to medically diagnose someone as an addict. In fact, many people who take hydrocodone as prescribed are expected to show signs of physical dependence on hydrocodone after several weeks of continued opioid use, although a mild degree of physical dependence may develop after only a few days of opioid therapy.

Doctors also expect that people taking hydrocodone over time will experience a couple of signs of dependence: tolerance and withdrawal.   Higher tolerance for hydrocodone is a phenomenon wherein you get reduced analgesic effect after some time of using hydrocodone… and you need to increase dosage to achieve desire pain relief effect. Furthermore, hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are also present when you stop taking hydrocodone abruptly. Withdrawal is normal for people who cut back on hydrocodone after chronic, long time use, which is why many doctors taper your dose gradually when you want to stop. So if these are the signs of hydrocodone dependence what are the unique characteristics of hydrocodone addiction?

How do you get addicted to hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone, like most other opioids, induces sedation and alters the perception of pain. Hydrocodone also triggers euphoria, a sense or state of extreme well-being. When you start using hydrocodone for its euphoric effect (With or without a prescription), you increase your risk of addiction. Other ways that you can get addicted to hydrocodone include:

  • chewing, snorting or injecting hydrocodone
  • taking higher doses of hydrocodone than prescribed
  • taking hydrocodone more frequently than prescribed
  • using hydrocodone to get high

Hydrocodone addiction signs

A positive drug test for Vicodin may indicate normal use, or could be a sign of Vicodin addiction.   The hydrocodone detection period is generally 2-4 days after last does, but can extend to 90 days if a hair sample is tested.  So how do you know the difference between normal prescription use and misuse of Vicodin?

Addiction is neurobiological disease. Hydrocodone addiction is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following:

  • compulsive use of hydrocodone
  • continued use of hydrocodone despite harm or negative consequences
  • craving hydrocodone
  • inability to control drug use
  • obsessive thinking about hydrocodone

How to avoid hydrocodone addiction

If you have been prescribed medication that contains hydrocodone to treat moderate to moderately severe pain and want to avoid addiction, there are a few things that you can do to prevent hydrocodone addiction.

1. Use hydrocodone only for medical reasons – Addiction potential for any prescription drug increases when you start to use drug recreationally, for performance enhancement or for psychological relief. Be sure that you use hydrocodone only for pain relief or cough suppression.

2. Keep records of your prescribing information – Record prescribing information, such as quantity, frequency, and renewal requests to monitor your use.

3. Check in with your doctor from time to time – Periodic re-evaluation of therapy can help you assess how well hydrocodone is working to relieve pain or treat cough. It is possible that there are other treatments which may help your medical condition, so check in with your prescribing doctor to report and evaluate your choices.

Hydrocodone questions

If you have any questions about hydrocodone use, abuse or addiction potential…please leave them here. We welcome all readers to anonymously ask their questions and we will respond promptly and personally.

Reference sources:The Relative Abuse Liability of Oral Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Hydromorphone Assessed in Prescription Opioid Abusers
Daily Med drug info on 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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