Tolerance to hydrocodone

Tolerance to hydrocodone can develop over the course of several days to a month after you have started taking hydrocodone. More here on what’s considered a high tolerance to hydrocodone, as well as how tolerance differs from hydrocodone dependence and/or addiction.

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Have you been taking hydrocodone for a while? Are you finding that you’re having to increase your dosage of hydrocodone in order to feel the benefits of the medication? If yes, then you have may have developed a tolerance to hydrocodone.

However, developing a tolerance to pain killers like hydrocodone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re addicted or are developing dependence on hydrocodone. But if you’re worried that a high tolerance to hydrocodone may develop into physical dependence on hydrocodone or an addiction, you’ve found yourself in the right place. Here, we’ll explore hydrocodone tolerance and its relationship to dependency and addiction. Then, we invite you to ask questions about hydrocodone at the end (if you still have them)!

Developing tolerance to hydrocodone

Every person will react differently to hydrocodone. But anyone can develop a tolerance to hydrocodone. Tolerance to hydrocodone happens when your doctor needs to increase the dose you are taking because the analgesic effect is no longer working. Sometimes you can develop tolerance quickly. This can make many people worried that they may develop an addiction.

So if your doctor has been increasing your hydrocodone medication… how does this affect dependence and addiction to hydrocodone?

There is a possibility that with increased tolerance your body can develop a physical dependency on hydrocodone. That is, you may need hydrocodone in the body to operate normally. Physical dependence on any drug occur when the medication has integrated into the normal functioning of your body. People who are dependent on hydrocodone find that without hydrocodone, they begin to undergo withdrawal symptoms and require hydrocodone symptoms withdrawal treatment.

On the other hand, dependence and tolerance are still distinctively different than drug addiction. If you start experiencing psychological symptoms such as drug seeking behavior or hydrocodone cravings, you may have developed an addiction to hydrocodone. However, addiction to hydrocodone is more likely if you’re using hydrocodone in way not prescribed by your doctor.

Hydrocodone tolerance symptoms

Generally, there are two main symptoms that can help you decide if you have developed a tolerance to hydrocodone, or not.

1. Taking hydrocodone with more frequency or in higher doses in order to feel its effect.

2. You can’t tell if hydrocodone is working the way it should.

Again, these symptoms don’t mean you have developed a physical dependency or psychological addiction to hydrocodone. They only indicate that you need more and more hydrocodone because you no longer feel the analgesic effect as you did initially.

Hydrocodone tolerance: How long?

Because everyone is different, building a tolerance to hydrocodone is also varies by individual. Overall, tolerance to hydrocodone can develop over the course of several days to a month after you have started taking hydrocodone. However, there is one general rule about the length of time for hydrocodone tolerance to occur: The longer you use hydrocodone, the more likely you are to develop a tolerance to it. Hydrocodone also seems to have a faster tolerance rate than other opioid based drugs. This is why it is not recommended that hydrocodone be taken over extended periods of time. Using hydrocodone over a relatively short time frame decreases the potential for tolerance and dependence.

High tolerance to hydrocodone

You should not take more than 750 mg a day of hydrocodone. If you find you must take more in order to feel the pain reliefe effects of hydrocodone, then you have developed a high tolerance to the medication. After this point if you need to take more than 750 mg of hydrocodone you need to do so with caution. With each increase of hydrocodone there is a higher chance of eventually developing dependence. Once you have exceeded the recommended daily dose of hydrocodone, it is important to consult with your doctor so s/he can help you figure out what is the best course of action.

How to lower tolerance to hydrocodone

The only real way to lower your tolerance of hydrocodone is to stop taking it for a while. However, stopping hydrocodone can trigger the experience of withdrawal symptoms. If this is the case, a doctor can work with you to taper your use of hydrocodone so that you do not feel the total severity of withdrawal symptoms. There is also the possibility that you can’t lower your tolerance and that hydrocodone is simply not a good pain medication for you. You may need to find another medication that will work for you and the symptoms you need treated.

Building up tolerance to Hydrocodone questions

Still have questions about hydrocodone tolerance? Please ask and share any experience you may have with hydrocodone tolerance below. We do our best to respond to you with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: Daily Med: hydrocodone
Pub Med Health: Hydrocodone
Pub Med: Development of Opioid Tolerance 
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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