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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  1. My boyfriend recently admitted to being addicted to hydrocodone. He said he quit on his own. Is that possible? I believe he still takes the pills. I look for signs of addiction but he’s good at covering them. We had an intervention with his family where he said he had been clean for 3 weeks but went to the doctor and got a drug panel and it showed up in his system. What treatment option would be best for him?

    1. Hi Patricia.
      It’s great that your boyfriend admitted his addiction problem. However, hydrocodone is difficult to quit without the proper help and management. If intervention has proven unsuccessful, try Motivational Interviewing, or family and couples therapy. Your main goal should be to convince your boyfriend to enter treatment.

  2. My husband says he’s not addicted to Vicodin but he gets them from a person who sells them and his attitude is awful and he says it’s me. He takes them in a daily basis I’m not sure how much he takes he says just one but he is 6foot 3 and is 235 in weight so I know he takes way more than one a day

  3. I am taking 9 10/325 hydrocodone on the weekend only as prescribed by my doctor of 25 years and have 2-3 beers a day and he said it is ok. i am now confused by the answers I see here that say it is bad. i am 69 years old and had polio at birth and he knows me very well. Am I in danger?

  4. I’m not sure if I’m in the correct forum or not but, here’s my story. I was an avid bodybuilder and did personal security. During work about 2 years ago, I had a pretty bad car accident which required two back surgeries so far and, losing about 40 pounds. I was prescribed hydrocoden 750 I believe for about a year then, I asked for the lowest possible dose so have been on 5-325 for about a year. I was told to take them every 6 hours. I on my own cut it to two pills a day and, just deal with the pain. I have recently been attempting to come off of the pills completely on my own. The back pain is one thing but, after a day of not talking the hydrocoden I’m miserable. Cold sweats, chills, hard to sleep and to say I’m irritable is an understatement. I’ve got no idea what to do, I need the pills for the pain but, I now know that my body is physically addicted. PLEASE ANY HELP OR SUGGESTIONS WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.

  5. I am 28 years old. Right now im going through a divorce and custody battle over my 2 yr old. Reasons my husband left me and took my son was because of my 14 year battle with vicodin. I admit my mistakes, i feel lost, alone, desperate, and depresssed everyday. I just dont like to admit to anyone that i have a problem. I can on here but its hard to in person. But us addicts have big egos. We try to get around things and make ppl think were ok when were anything but ok. Sometimes i think i take anymore just to punish myself for the wrongs ive done. Ive drained my parents bank account to buy off the street, done things i never thought id do to keep feelings normal so i wouldnt have withdrawals. Snuck around and stole any painkiller i could get my hands on. Ive been using since i was 15 ive done them all. Ive even taken adderall which is another thing i didnt start doing until of late. Friend introduced it to me, mix it with vicodin and im on top of the world. Wish i didnt need to take anything to be happy and normal but its all ive known since i was young. I envy clean, happy ppl so much. I envy happy, married couples now bcus thats what i used to have. I even envy seeing a parent with their child when my son isnt with me. I know that sounds selfish but i guess i am. I hate being this way. Its when im down and fight with the ppl i love is when i overuse. Some nights when i could actually sleep didnt know if id wake up from taking so many (20 10s) on a bad day. I went to outpatient to try to save my marriage. Didnt work. I have had to hit rock bottom to realize what i have and might lose. I lost my husband who i still love even though he took my son and has made my life hell fighting for custody. Im a mom and the reason i live now is for my son. I could lose him too. Just one tiny pill could take the rest of my life away from me. It hurts to know i had my little family and its all gone. We go to court in a week to find out what judge says about custody. Im scared and i cant lose my little boy. When i was pregnant wirh him was the only time i was ever truly clean for a long extended period of time. Went cold turkey off pills and cigs both. All for my son. I was clean almost a year. I was proud of myself had never been clean that long but felt boredom without pills but my conscious wouldnt let me take 1 pill after i found out i was preg. It wasnt easy. Thats why im so afraid of being sober now. That and the lifestyle of it. Its nothing for me to go get some money and go buy some. Thats what has made my world go round. But i want to be sober for my son. The last thing, i was almost beat to death in a dark alley after trying to buy more pills. My lawyer found out and freaked and is wanting me to go to inpatient rehab. This is rock bottom and i still cant shake it. I feel like a lost cause. No one knows how it feels unless theyve had everything taken away from them like i have bcus of my stupid addiction. I just want to let ppl know to watch out. Parents watch your teens. My addiction started only bcus i had wisdom teeth pulled at 15. I was naive had no idea i could get addicted here i am today. Alone unless my son is with me. I get him 4 days his dad gets him 4 days. The guilt eats me up. What ive done to my parents my soon to be exhusband. And especially my son. Sometimes i feel like he deserves better than me. But ive always been a good mom which his father says different. My reputation in the town i live in is bad now. I just dont know anymore. Ive lost so much weight since my husband found out last october about my relapse. Usual weight 140 now down to 110lbs and im 5’8. Im not the same person anymore. I used to be in pageants but now all i see when i look in the mirror is ugly. After all the loss, being beat and have stitches in the back of my head youd think id learn my lesson. I guess i havent. Just dont go down the path ive gone. Its got me nowhere but misery. I cant lose my son though ive fought too hard to keep him. Ive tried to stay strong for my son its hard to at times but just seeing his smile gets me through. Sorry so long had to get it off my chest. Id just give anything to have my little family back but i caused too much damage. Theres no going back now and i cant do anything about it now. I would never wish this on my worst enemy.

  6. Hi Sara. Outpatient treatment centers offer vouchers or sliding scale fees for addiction treatment; you can start by calling your state’s department of health and find out more about the process. Usually, they refer you to a county office where you need to show proof of citizenship.

    More here:

  7. I’m 23, I really think I could have a problem.
    I always knew Hydrocodone was addictive, abuse runs in my family. I tried it when I was younger just to see. For some reason I was very curious. It because an everyday thing very very fast. One day I just stopped. Now, I can see myself going back down that road. A family member gets the prescription due to medical problems, and never minds sharing with me. I find myself thinking about it all day long. (“When can I be done with this so I can just have one more. I only need one more”) That quickly turns into another “one more” I’m fully aware I have this problem, the thing is however.. I really can’t pay for treatment. No medical. I have nothing. I’m not poor or anything, I just have no funds I can spare for any sort of treatment. So my question is this,
    This is a serious situation in my life, and I have to stop. I have no self control. Also, I have been drinking a lot more than I used too. How can I stop without professional help?
    Thank you.

  8. JACK. You were asking about the acetaminophen. Taking two pills 3 times a day would put the acetaminophen mg at just under 2,000 mg. And that’s okay. You should not exceed 4,000 mg and 7,000 mg will cause severe damage.

  9. Hi Jack. Usually, hydrocodone is the FIRST number on a prescription combo. Ex. 5/325 = 5 mg hydrocodone, 325 mg acetaminophen. If you were taking the medicine as prescribed, you’re probably OK! Check with a pharmacist for further risk assessment.

  10. Thank you for the education on the subject. I was prescribed hydro a while back for tooth pain. I remember taking 2 of the 325 pills 3 times spreadout throughout the day. Your info stated that daily amounts exceeding 7000mg of acetametaphine in one day can cause irriversable organ damage etc. How much aceto did i take? Was the amount i took that day excessive to the point i have permanant damage to my body? Thank you.

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