Is hydrocodone addictive?

YES. Hydrocodone is highly addictive. This is even the case when hydrocodone is prescribed by a doctor. We review what hydrocodone is made of, and how you get addicted to hydrocodone here.

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YES. Hydrocodone is addictive.

How long hydrocodone lasts = four to six hours.  But what makes hydrocodone addictive so that you continue to take doses of hydrocodone one after the other? For example, can you get addicted to hydrocodone even if you are taking it as prescribed? And how do you even know that if you’re a hydrocodone addict in the first place? We answer these questions here and invite your questions about the addictive potential of hydrocodone at the end.

What is hydrocodone used for?

Hydrocodone is a narcotic painkiller, indicated for the management of mild to moderate pain. hydrocodone comes in tablet form, and may be mixed with other medications such a acetaminophen. When taken as prescribed, hydrocodone can offer pain relief as needed, or around-the-clock. However, when taken to try to achieve a euphoric high, or for long-term pain management, hydrocodone can become addictive.

What is hydrocodone made of?

Hydrocodone is an opium-derived synthetic powder. Unlike a true opiate, which would come from nature and be derived from the opium poppy, hydrocodone is created in a lab.

How addictive is hydrocodone?

Chemically speaking, hydrocodone is very addictive. Because it’s chemically similar to morphine and other opiate medications, hydrocodone has a similar abuse liability, which is why it has been classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. despite this, hydrocodone’s strong effects on the central nervous system cause it to be frequently abused. This is why it is illegal to use hydrocodone without a prescription from a doctor.

Hydrocodone dependence vs. addiction

Hydrocodone dependence is not necessarily the same as hydrocodone addiction. Someone who uses the medication responsibly and for legitimate medical reasons can become dependent on the medication without becoming addicted. A dependence simply means that person is unable to stop using a drug without side effects (withdrawal) and can experience the need to increase dosage amounts or frequency to achieve the same initial effect of the drug (tolerance).

A drug addiction is much more psychological. An addiction to hydrocodone may be characterized (or not) by the same effects as physical dependence. But hydrocodone addiction is necessarily characterized with strong cravings for the drug, and compulsive use of the drug, despite negative consequences.

How do you get addicted to hydrocodone?

Are you taking hydrocodone for pain, not to get high? If you’re taking hydrocodone as directed by your doctor, you probably don’t have a problem with hydrocodone. But if you’re taking larger doses than prescribed to try to achieve psychoactive effects, you’re misusing the drug. You’re also much more likely to become addicted this way.  Mixing hydrocodone and alcohol is another sign of drug problems and also extremely dangerous.  To put it simply: if you make a conscious decision to misuse hydrocodone, it’s very likely you’ll become addicted. Some ways that people misuse and abuse hydrocodone include:

  1. chewing hydrocodone to prevent controlled release
  2. crushing hydrocodone into a powder and snorting hydrocodone
  3. crushing hydrocodone to dissolve in water and inject
  4. taking hydrocodone in higher doses than prescribed
  5. taking hydrocodone more frequently than prescribed

In general, you can get addicted to hydrocodone if you take it in a manner other than normally prescribed. It’s far less likely that you’ll get addicted this way, however. You’re at a higher risk of hydrocodone addiction if you’ve been addicted to other drugs or alcohol in the past.

Signs of hydrocodone addiction

While hydrocodone dependence and addiction can be hard to tell apart, hydrocodone addiction involves a psychological craving for the drug. Thuis means that you want, crave or obsess about hydrocodone even if it is out of your system. A good indicator of addiction is continued use of hydrocodone after you no longer physically need hydrocodone and have gone through withdrawal. If you still crave hydrocodone after physical withdrawal, you may be a hydrocodone addict. Other signs of hydrocodone addiction include:

  • Continuing to use or abuse hydrocodone despite negative consequences
  • Hydrocodone craving
  • Using hydrocodone compulsively to stimulate the “reward center” of the brain

Hydrocodone addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about hydrocodone addiction potential? 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 help refer you to someone who does.

Reference sources: DEA: Hydrocodone
Medline Plus: Hydrocodone
ToxNet: Hydrocodone
FDA Safety Communication: Prescription Acetaminophen Products to be Limited
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 have taken a combination of one hydrocodone, two Tramadol and two naproxin tablets two to four times daily since 2003. Without the medication, I become incapacitated with pain and cannot function. I even have difficulty walking. I have commented to both doctor and pharmacist that I think I’m addicted. The pharmacist asked if the pills helped control the pain. I answered, “Of course”. He said, “There you are”. Since I am 82 years old, should I even worry about addition? Otherwise, I live a normal life and still perform as a musician.

    1. Hi Bill. If you are concerned about addiction, then it may be best to go to a clinic for an evaluation. They will tell you for sure if you have just built a tolerance to your medications, or the problem is more serious than that. Contact this trusted helpline 1-877-950-7204 for further information.

  2. I’ve been taking 1 pill a day of 5 mg for severe cramps but I find myself taking them even after my periods end to make my help my anxiety I’ve been doing this for a few months now. I had to quit cold turkey yesterday because doctor thinks I’m allergic. I’m freaking out that I might be going in to detox but I feel ok other than the anxiety. My question is, is 1 pill a day even considered an addiction that can come with withdraw symptoms? I see some people are taking like 5 to 10 a day. Please help. I’m scarred.

    1. Hi Cheryl. The safest way to quit any drug is under medical supervision. First, I suggest that you call the helpline you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant. Then, consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Also, download our free e-book ‘How To Quot Opioid Painkillers’ to learn more about the quitting process:

  3. I take hydro codon 10-325 twice a week one pill . I suffer from sever headaches 24/7 they never go away . Can I take these 3,4 or 5 days a week one pill a day without coming addicted to them

  4. Can hydrocodone abuse symptoms be confused by a doctor as MS development ? Long term hydro user taking 2.5 x prescribed amount past three years.

  5. My doctor has downsized his clients and he don’t want responsibility of writing crisp I’ve been on pain meds for over 20 years for chronic pain in 93 I was disabled from absent to pain management clinic doctor said I’d be on for life I’m so stressed because this don’t even relieve all pain but I can live with it my back neuropathy fibromyalgia help what should I do because he didn’t even recommend another doctor and all problems I have and age no doctor will see me GOD BLESS you

  6. I was just recently prescribed Vicodin for herniated discs along with Valium for muscle relaxer. I have had both of these drugs before with out problems, but now I find myself taking significantly more of both drugs. Can I be dependent & addicted at once with both drugs? Do I need to ask for help? I gave tha meds to a friend so I don’t have access unless she gives me one. I really need a recommendation or information concerning this. Thank you

    1. Hi Pam. After taking a medication for a while you grow tolerance and the body also gets dependent on the medication. This is a normal and natural occurrence, since our organism is very adaptable, so it gets used to the presence of the medication. And, yes, you can form dependence to two medications if you take them at the same time. You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you drop a significant amount of your regular doses. If you notice any unusual, flue-like or adverse effects, please don’t hesitate to see a doctor.

  7. Hi Beverly. I would be very worried. Your son may deny that the Vicodin is his, be prepared for this. A drug testing kit is a good idea, but you’ll need his permission first. And for Vicodin, be sure to get one that detects “extended opioids”, as hydrocodone does not show as an opiate.

    Under any drug use there lie psycho-emotional issues. I’d suggest that you consult with drugfree [dot] org and a family therapist to prepare for the worst. Have an action plan in place before you intervene. And do so with love and concern.

  8. Found some vicodin in my room teenager’s room.Plan on buying drug test kit at drug store. Not sure how worried I should be about this.

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