Signs and symptoms of hydrocodone addiction

Hydrocodone addiction can occur in anyone using prescription medications that contain hydrocodone. Here, we explore the main signs and symptoms of hydrocodone addiction and what you can do to identify and address hydrocodone addiction.

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Is it possible to get addicted to hydrocodone? Yes. In fact, it’s possible to become addicted to hydrocodone, even if you’re taking it when prescribed by a doctor. What are the most common signs and symptoms of hydrocodone addiction? We explore here. And we invite your questions about hydrocodone at the end.

Hydrocodone use or abuse?

Hydrocodone is a Schedule III controlled substance ad on top of the list of the most prescribed opioids (synthetic opiates) in the U.S. Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic acting similarly to codeine. Hydrocodone relieves pain so that changes the way brain and nervous system react to pain. The action is similar when it comes to cough treatment, as hydrocodone affects the section of the brain where coughing is caused. Therapeutic doses of hydrocodone have negligible effects on the cardiovascular or respiratory system. However, toxic doses may cause circulatory failure and rapid, shallow breathing.

Hydrocodone comes in several forms, such as tablets, capsules, syrup, solution, solutions and long-acting capsules and long-releasing solutions. Hydrocodone is usually used in combination with other ingredients such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen and is marketed for prescription use in the management of several medical conditions. Some hydrocodone products are used to treat moderate to severe pain, while others are prescribed for cough and flu. This is because hydrocodone belongs to the class of both opiate analgesics and anti-tussives. But when does normal use of hydrocodone become abuse?

Signs of hydrocodone abuse and possible addiction

If you or someone you know is using hydrocodone, you’ll need to pay attention to potential signs of abuse or addiction. First, you need to be aware of the potential of hydrocodone to become habit forming. Dependence on hydrocodone is an expected outcome after regular, daily dosing for a couple of weeks or more. But physical dependence on hydrocodone alone does not indicate addiction.

Second, hydrocodone is abused anytime someone takes hydrocodone outside of doctor’s recommendations. And abuse leads to addiction. When a dosing timeline is not followed, or if hydrocodone is taken in higher doses, more often than usually it is being abused. So, if immediate doses of hydrocodone are taken more frequently than once every 4 to 6 hours OR long-acting formulas are administered more frequently than once every 12 hours, there could be a problem.

Additionally, extended-release capsules are often crashed in order to be abused, so make sure you see no other signs of hydrocodone abuse, such as white powder and strange dust on hard objects. Hydrocodone solutions are measured with specified teaspoon, that usually will come along the syrup. So if you notice that someone in your family is taking the solution with a household spoon or not measuring at all, this might be hydrocodone abuse.

Third, hydrocodone addicts often “doctor shop” for multiple prescriptions. You could track down the prescription documentations and take a look at them. Multiple or faked hydrocodone prescriptions can signal a problem.

Symptoms of hydrocodone addiction

Addiction is a chronic, neurobiological disease characterized by behaviors that include repetitive or compulsive drug use despite adverse health or social conditions. At its most basic, hydrocodone addiction is characterized as an unexplained urge for more of the drug. Addiction to hydrocodone may occur for several reasons related to biological, social or psychological needs and problems.

If you are trying to define whether someone in your family is addicted to hydrocodone, it might be helpful to look for these signs and symptoms of addiction to hydrocodone. Keep in mind that not all users exhibit exactly the same group of signs but these general characteristics can be present during addiction:

1. loss of control of drug use (taking more than planned, or inability to quit taking hydrocodone)

2. continued use of hydrocodone, despite negative life consequences

3. drug craving

4. compulsive or obsessive thinking about hydrocodone use

Other symptoms of problems with hydrocodone can include:

  • agitated or restless behaviors
  • anxiety
  • chest tightness
  • compulsive use
  • constipation
  • continued use despite harm, problems at home or school
  • craving
  • difficulty urinating
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry throat
  • impaired control over hydrocodone use
  • increased isolation to use hydrocodone in secret
  • itching
  • lightheadedness
  • narrowing of the pupils
  • nausea
  • rash
  • slowed or irregular breathing
  • sudden mood swings
  • unnecessary prescriptions for hydrocodone
  • vomiting

Hydrocodone addiction symptoms: Can they be treated?

Yes, hydrocodone addiction symptoms can be treated. Once you have identified a hydrocodone addict in your family, you could organize an intervention for him. The goal of an interventions is for an addict to agree to seek professional help. But this is only the first step towards hydrocodone addiction treatment. The next options for hydrocodone addiction treatment are to withdraw from hydrocodone (with the help of opiate substitution medications when necessary) and to then choose between outpatient and residential treatment.

During outpatient treatment, a hydrocodone addict will need to spend several hours per day,attending educational sessions, therapies and support groups. This type of treatment allows a person to continue life as normal with continued attendance at work or school. Outpatient treatment usually lasts for about 10 weeks but can continue for 3 months or a year after initiation. Individual psychotherapy sessions provided in an outpatient clinic can also help someone interested in long term abstinence from hydrocodone.

On the other hand, inpatient facilities with residential accommodations for the addict offer treatment in a well equipped facility, under the surveillance of highly trained medical and psychiatric staff 24 hours a day. Combinations of psychotherapy sessions (group, individual and family therapies) and cognitive behavioral methods are frequently used during residential treatment, as is opiate substitution therapy when needed.

Signs of hydrocodone addiction questions

Last but not least, make sure you do not enable hydrocodone addiction. Be aware that drug addiction, in general, is a condition that requires treatment for the whole family system, and not only the hydrocodone addict.

Do you still have questions about identifying hydrocodone addiction? In case there is something you would like to know, please ask your question(s) in the comments section below. We at Addiction Blog will do our best to answer all legitimate hydrocodone addiction questions with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: Medline Plus: Hydrocodone
Hazardous Substances Bank TOXNET: Hydrocodone
Daily Med: HYDROCODONE BITARTRATE AND ACETAMINOPHEN (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen ) tablet
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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