Prescription Drug

Evidence-based descriptions of the most popular Rx drugs and their effects. The full spectrum of prescription drug use from habit to addiction.


What is hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a a semi-synthetic opioid derived from codeine. Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers. It is a Schedule II or Schedule III drug (this varies as a result of different formulations) available only in combination with other ingredients, specifically intended for oral use. In fact, hydrocodone is contained in hundreds of prescription medications as an active ingredient. Hydrocodone comes as a tablet, a capsule, syrup, a solution, an extended-release (long-acting) capsule, and an extended-release (long-acting) suspension (liquid) to take by mouth.

Why do people use hydrocodone?

Doctors prescribe hydrocodone as a narcotic analgesic (pain reliever) and a cough medicine, usually combined with paracetamol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen.  Basically, hydrocodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain and as a medicine to treat cold and cough. However, many hydrocodone users take higher doses to achieve a sense of extreme well-being and euphoria. But taking hydrocodone OTHER THAN PRESCRIBED is considered drug abuse and is illegal.

Hydrocodone effects

When used as prescribed and with caution, hydrocodone relieves pain by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It also relieves cough by decreasing activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing. In higher doses, one of the most common effects of this narcotic is a warm and pleasant numbing sensation that stretches throughout the body. At the same time, many report a warming of the abdominal area, and sometimes a pleasant cooling in the lungs. Hydrocodone may also cause side effects, upon which a patient should consult with a doctor and probably stop using the medication. Some possible negative side effects of hydrocodone include:
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Impaired brain activity
  • Impaired lung function
  • Nausea
  • Rashes
  • Vomiting
There is also a deadly side to hydrocodone abuse. If users take too many pills or if they mix hydrocodone with other drugs or alcohol (especially central nervous system depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines), the outcome can be fatal. Also, in long-term users, the body builds up tolerance to the prescription medication. Increased tolerance to hydrocodone after daily dosing for a period of a few weeks or more can increase risk of overdose. When abused for a longer period, hydrocodone causes liver damage and liver failure, which can also lead to death.

Is hydrocodone addictive?

Yes, hydrocodone is addictive. Because of the euphoric effects it causes, people may develop patterns of abuse which lead to addiction. Even after only several weeks of use, people can develop physical and psychological dependence to hydrocodone. Symptoms common among hydrocodone addicts include:
  • Compulsive use of hydrocodone
  • Continued hydrocodone use despite the awareness of negative consequences to health, home, work or social life
  • Craving hydrocodone
  • Loss of control over dosing amounts and frequency
  • Taking hydrocodone to cope with psycho-emotional issues
After your body and brain have become accustomed to the presence of the medication, you can experience hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms if you try to quit suddenly and abruptly. Consult your doctor before lowering doses or stopping altogether. Stopping hydrocodone is much safer when you taper doses down gradually and slowly, and treat symptoms as they occur. Your doctor can help you create a tapering schedule fit to your needs, or refer you to a hydrocodone detox center if you require extra medical help during this period.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. If I took a 7.5mg of Hydrocodone at noon on Monday and I have a urine on Wednesday at noon , will the Hydrocodone show up in the test ?

  2. Hey I have a little brother that is 37yrs old, he has been addicted to pain pills for about 7 or so years, & he is also on other medication for panic disorder, and he’s over weight, well I really need some help for him, & especially my mom cause now he’s so bad that if he don’t have any pills, or money, then he starts going off on my mama, & it has gotten to the point where if she tells him she doesn’t have the money he puts his hands on her throws stuff at her, verbal abuses her, & she is scared of him, I’ve called different places to get him help but they all say he has to come in willingly but that ain’t going to happen, is there anywhere I can put him, he is on disability & I don’t want him to loose it, but I’m scared if he doesn’t get help soon he’s going to really hurt or kill my mom or his self or both

  3. I took 4 5mg lortabs Tuesday night and have a grug urine test I have to take this Friday. I haven’t taken any in awhile before and I only weigh about 150. Do you think I can pass my test?

  4. I took my usual second hydrocodone pill last night and fasted this morning before seeing the doctor. he informed me that my test was negative and I had to take a blood test for which I will get the results in several days. then he informed me he would no longer be my doctor and would not give me another prescription. how can this be? there wasw another sample in the door where I put the urine. the only thing I can think of is they tested the wrong sample.

  5. I tested positive for hydrocodone after taking a tylenol number 4. I had also with in a day or so of taking the Tylenol#4 taken 1mg of lorazepam. I have a valid RX and have never abused my medication.
    The drug screen came back as positive morphine,hydromorphone,and hydrocodone. I found out that these were known metabolites of tylenol with codeine. I did not previously know that information.
    . I am an RN of 29 years who has lost her job over this and I have not done anything wrong.
    I am told the metabolite for the hydrocodone was too high. That I must have taken something else. to get that result.
    I swear I have never taken any medication that I was not prescribed. I have been routinely drug .tested with no problem. I have never been disciplined at work for anything either.
    Now I have lost my job. I am physically and emotionally sick over this situation.
    A list of meds I take routinely take include simvastatin ,lisinopril hctz ( I sometimes do not take this if traveling, due to availability of restrooms) Tylenol # 4 up to 4 times a day ONLY IF NEEDED, ONE tramadol per day,(if I am not hurting I have occassionally forgotten to take it) and ativan 1 mg only if needed. (i just finished an awful divorce). I know that this looks like a lot of medication but I only take them PRN and Never at work. Not usually together either. I also have PRN ambien. I used it regularly with the divorce issues.
    I do not smoke cigarettes or anything else, I have never tried illicit drugs in my life, I do not have any tattoos, although I have admired some on other people. I only drink alcohol occasionally.
    I felt like my work as an RN and caregiver was my true calling from God and I absolutely love it. I am also a Christian and can not believe that this has happened to me.
    PLEASE PLEASE send me any information on why a positive level deemed high ( I do not know the level I am accused of Taking) I just know I never took any hydrocodone.
    Last but definitely important. is that I have had listed on all of my medical records and pharmacy profiles for 20 years that I am allergic to Vicodin. (with the birth my first son that medicine made me itch to the point of wanting to claw my skin off and so nauseaous I could barely move).
    Why would I take a drug that I have consistently and diligently avoided?
    Again if some one could give me answers I would greatly appreciate it. The Board of Nursing is determining if they should take my license.
    I have lost jobs, health Insurance, and definitely peace of mind.
    I swear I did not take hydrocodone and do not know why it showed up like they are telling me it has.
    Thank you and be blessed today,


  6. My Doctor prescribes me 150 Norco per month for pain. I’m in need of two knee replacements and have severe arthritis in both knees. I’m fearful that with all the drama involved with Doctor’s prescribing opiates that my Doctor will cut me off. I’ve tried other pain relievers and find that Norco works the best for me. I do not take more than I’m prescribed and mostly do not take more than two to four tablets daily. Any commetns?

  7. I am on norco 10/325 3 times a day for years in pain management and last test i was lower dosed but never went 24hrs without last 3 days before test was tues 5 and half , last one late and wed 1 and half and thursday before 8am test the next day went like this 5am half 1pm and midnight half and didnt pee until 8 am test so i was in 8-24 detection period with 10mg total but split up til test will it test positive without saying low because i have tested with high levels and low and they never said nothing and they use the opiod twat that tells exactly which pain pill is in urine and i read hydrocodone levels cant show in urine but saw u say it can so will my test show positive if i took pills that way and they also do not check for marijuana so im not sure if they only check every opiod pill specifically

    1. Hello Pete. Hydrocodone can usually be detected in urine for 2-4 days after you stop use. However, this depends on how much you used, how often, how high was the dosage, your metabolism, etc. The time period for detection can be shortened or prolonged based on these factors.

  8. I have been taking Norco for awhile. My previous doctor prescribed it for pain on my right side that includes my neck, arm, back and hip. When it is really bad it also feels like I have a really bad ear ache. I have had everything from x rays to MRIs and everything in between. We have also tried every kind of pain reliever from Motrin to Gabapentin and a bunch of non narcotic and narcotic pain relievers. Most of them either didn’t work as well as the Norco or gave me intense upset stomach problems. I have tried acupuncture and massage which didn’t work well at all. After all the tests and trials my doctor diagnosed nerve damage along with other problems. My doctor retired leaving me in the lurch and another doctor is working out of his office until January. She sent me for more x rays and more MRIs and tests and agreed with his diagnosis and kept prescribing the Norco 10/325 which I take 6 times a day along with over the counter Aleve which does not upset my stomach like the prescription Tramadol. I also am a type 2 diabetic and so I have an appointment every 3 months. At my last appointment she told me that she was just on contract with this medical group and would be leaving the practice and retiring this January. She also told me that the doctor that was taking over the practice would not be very likely to continue prescribing the Norco for me even after all the tests I have been though and all of the diagnosis. All I know is that I don’t abuse the drug and the combination of Norco and Aleve works for me better than anything we have tried in the past. I just can’t understand why doctors would end pain management that works for me with no ill effects. Is it because it is so abused and vilified that the doctor would rather see me suffer with the pain and the side effects of other treatments and just not bother with me? I don’t know what I’m going to do after January. I know that my medical insurance won’t pay for more of the exact same tests all over again if this new doctor wants them and some of them like MRIs are really expensive. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

  9. i had to take a test regarding hydrocodone yet that did not show up on my test morphine did is there a reason for that I need to know now my doctor basically thinks otherwise of me

  10. I go to a pain clinic and they drug test every month for 3 or 4 months my drug test come back negative for hydrocodone but I take them daily as prescribed. It was recently brought to my attention that water pills can cause a false drug screen Is that true?

    1. Hi Karen. Water pills may be the cause for a false drug screen because they help your body get rid of the unneeded water. Did you tell the toxicologist that you use water pills? Every time before taking drug test, tell the professionals which medications you use because they may affect the test results.

  11. Hi everyone, I’ve recently quit taking vicodin.. I’ve been abusing vicodin for close to 13 years. I’d been in the same situation about 20 years ago (hard to believe) and only started again the night my Dad died. Thank goodness I was vicodin free the three years he was sick (cancer) and I was able to help my Mom care for him. We had a vicodin rx for him but I was never once tempted until he lay dying. I’m a Daddy’s girl and I just decided I needed to be fortified that night. But that started the addiction again. Not that vicodin ever really made anything better. Seriously, I never felt great when I was taking it, it just felt like kind of a shield. For family gatherings, or social occasions I felt like I would enjoy it only if I had vicodin. My rx was for 5/325. I never took more than one at a time but I’ve taken up to 10 in a day. Over the last few months, my doctor has reduced the number of refills. . I guess I’ve been pondering the problem for a few months and when my supply was running low this past two weeks and I had another 2 weeks before I could expect a refill I just started dosing down. I was just sick of it but of course terrified of withdrawals. When I quit 20 years ago it was cold turkey and I was just freaked out. This time I took 1/2 a pill twice a day and than once a day and then my last 1/2 pill was sunday. I’ve been taking effexor and wellbutrin for a few years and also some xanax and ambient and I’ve been taking some of the supplements recommended in the Thomas recipe too. I’m not feeling too bad

  12. When I was in my mid-40s and partying (once or twice a week) I would drink beer (up to perhaps eight or 10) and take vicodin (maybe four or five over a six-hour period) and on the same take day I would take perhaps 10 altogether over 24 hpurs. I could drink much more without feeling or acting drunk, however I must have been. Also, any hangovers were minimized with a vicodin in the a.m. The other days (five or six days a week) I didn’t drink alcohol at all but I still took vicodin (six or eight a day). Why did I never have those reactions or responses that were typical. I have never read of anyone with my reactions. Its been 20 years now and have never had an answer to this question. I’d love to know.

    1. Hi, Jag. Regardless of mode of administration, hydrocodone stays in the system and may be detected on a urine test up to 2-5 days.

When does hydrocodone kick in?

Hydrocodone takes about 30 minutes after oral ingestion to kick in. More on how modes of administration affect hydrocodo ...

Cold turkey hydrocodone

Going cold turkey off hydrocodone can be severe and is unnecessary. Learn more about cold turkey hydrcodone risks and be ...

What is hydrocodone withdrawal?

Once you stop taking hydrocodone after regular use, a period of withdrawal will occur. Why? Because the brain compensate ...

Help for hydrocodone addiction

Here, we outline how to find and get help for hydrocodone addiction (starting with your family doctor). National hotlin ...

Tolerance to hydrocodone

Tolerance to hydrocodone can develop over the course of several days to a month after you have started taking hydrocodon ...

Dependence on hydrocodone

Hydrocodone dependence can develop as quickly as three (3) weeks after regular dosing begins. More here about dependence ...

Get Support. Find Recovery.
Recovery is possible for everyone. It takes hard work,
dedication, and most of all… a desire to be free of addiction.
Find A Treatment Center
I am ready to call
i Who Answers?