What is hydrocodone used for?

Hydrocodone is used to manage pain. More on hydrocodone’s uses, side effects, and dangers here.

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Doctors prescribe hydrocodone for pain or as an antitussive (cough suppressant). But people also use hydrocodone illegally for euphoric effect. More here on the medical and non-medical uses of hydrocodone and how you can identify a possible hydrocodone problem. Plus, a section for your questions about hydrocodone at the end.

Hydrocodone uses

Hydrocodone is an opioid narcotic prescription drug used to manage mild to moderate pain or as a cough suppressant. Hydrocodone works by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, and blocking the transmission of pain messages to the brain. Opioids like hydrocodone, however, can also cause initial feelings of pleasure by acting on the reward system in the brain. The feelings of euphoria induced by hydrocodone often cause hydrocodone abuse and make hydrocodone addictive.  But taking hydrocodone to get high some with risks of overdose and addiction, which are increased when you start mixing hydrocodone alcohol or hydrocodone with other depressants.

Hydrocodone uses and side effects

Hydrocodone last how long? A single dose of hydrocodone can provide pain relief for 4-6 hours.  While hydrocodone can be very helpful for people dealing with pain after an injury, accident, or medical procedure, it does have risks like any drug. Some of the major side effects of hydrocodone use include:

  • anxiety
  • abnormal moods
  • chest tightness
  • confusion, “fuzzy” thinking
  • constipation
  • depressed respiration
  • difficulty urinating
  • drowsiness
  • itching and rash
  • slowed/irregular breathing
  • urinary retention
  • vomiting

While some of these side effects are minor, there are a few – especially slowed or irregular breathing – which can be extremely dangerous. If you experience any serious or life-threatening side effects from hydrocodone, get medical help immediately. Also, be aware that long term use of hydrocodone can lead to dependence and addiction.

Illegal Hydrocodone use

Hydrocodone is a Schedule II narcotic that is marketed in multi-ingredient Schedule III products. It is illegal to use hydrocodone without a prescription. In addition, by federal law you CANNOT distribute hydrocodone unless you are a medical doctor.  Even if you aren’t selling hydrocodone to others, it is illegal to give hydrocodone away to someone who is not prescribed hydrocodone. Why? Because the opioid pain killer can cause severe harm or death to others.  Furthermore,  writing or obtaining a fraudulent prescription to get hydrocodone is also illegal

Illegal possession, use or distribution of hydrocodone also comes with legal penalties. Penalties associated with the abuse of hydrocodone vary by amount of hydrocodone in your possession as well as federal or state law. In general, however, those who knowingly and willfully conspiring to possess and distribute hydrocodone face jail terms in federal prison.

Problems with Hydrocodone

How do you know if you have a problem with hydrocodone? Mainly, you have a problem f you cannot stop taking hydrocodone despite the negative consequences hydrocodone use has on your life.

Keep in mind that although hydrocodone can create a euphoric high, if you are taking hydrocodone as prescribed you probably don’t have reason to worry. But if you start to take hydrocodone in higher-than-prescribed doses or more frequently than prescribed, you need to consult your doctor. It can be very dangerous to take too much hydrocodone, particularly because it may be combined with other drugs with a lower overdose threshold. Hydrocodone is also potentially lethal if it’s taken in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs.

If you’re think that you may be addicted to hydrocodone, there is help available. You can ask for help from your prescribing doctor or seek help from a medical professional who specializes in addiction issues. Either way, the first step to getting off hydrocodone is admitting that it’s gotten the best of you and then to seek help.

Questions about hydrocodone use

Do you still have questions about using hydrocodone? Please leave your questions here. We do our best to try to answer your questions quickly with a personal reply.

Reference Sources: NIDA: Drugs in the Cupboard
DEA: Hydrocodone Drug Data Sheet

DEA: Hydrocodone
Medline Plus: Hydrocodone
ToxNet: Hydrocodone
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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