Hydrocodone is classified as an opioid drug used in the treatment of various pain conditions. It is commonly sold under the brand name Vicodin. If you take it irregularly, without a valid prescription, or in high doses, it can cause you to develop an opioid use disorder that could be accompanied by many other severe health problems. Read on to find out more:
What Is It?
Hydrocodone is now ranked as one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. As such, it has been making a significant contribution to the growing opioid epidemic that has been plaguing the country.
Doctors typically prescribe this medication for the management of pain although it can lead to the development of an opioid use disorder, or an addiction. In fact, there is a high risk that you could become addicted even if you are taking it due to a valid prescription.
Since it is an opioid, Hydrocodone can cause you to experience pleasurable and euphoric effects. It is these effects that make it such an addictive and habit forming medication. Additionally, you may assume that it is safe because it is a medication that doctors prescribe often. However, this is not always the case because the drug could cause you to suffer a deadly overdose.
That said, hydrocodone is sold under a wide variety of brand-names. These drugs are used in the treatment of coughs and severe pain. They include but are not always limited to the following:
Hydrocodone is also available as an illicit drug on the streets. In these situations, it is commonly referred to by a wide variety of street names, including:
Although you may become addicted to hydrocodone after using it with a legitimate and valid prescription, this addiction could also develop as a result of taking it for a non-medical reason. Either way, you will soon find that you are suffering with a severe substance use disorder that you can only manage after enrolling for addiction treatment and rehabilitation services.
What Are The Effects?
Although hydrocodone is a prescription medication, it can also be extremely dangerous. Continued use and abuse of this drug could, for instance, harm your social, psychological, and physical health.
The drug also causes a wide variety of side effects, some of which can be severe or mild. If you continue taking it in the long term, you may increase your risk of suffering many different health issues.
Some of the side effects of hydrocodone that have been reported by the NLM - the National Library of Medicine - include but are not limited to:
- Back pain
- Muscle tension
- Dry mouth
- Stomach pain
However, you may also suffer some severe side effects if you continue taking this prescription opioid medication. These severe side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of the tongue, face, or throat
- Chest pain
If you combine hydrocodone with any other drug - whether prescription, illicit, or legal - you could exacerbate its effects. For instance, using it with marijuana could cause you to suffer respiratory distress, coma, or worse. Taking this drug with Xanax could also induce sleepiness and depress your breathing.
Signs to Look For If Someone Is Abusing Hydrocodone
But how can you tell if someone has been abusing hydrocodone? Essentially, if they have been taking it exactly as their doctor prescribed, the drug will relieve their pain. However, they may also experience some side effects.
Most of these side effects will mostly appear if the person has been abusing the drug or using it for a non-medical purpose. When this happens, they are likely to display the following signs of hydrocodone abuse:
- Exaggerating their pain symptoms so that they can get a new prescription for hydrocodone
- Experiencing financial problems due to the amount of money they spend on this drug
- Focusing more on acquiring and using this drug
- Going through their money quickly
- Lacking in motivation to do anything else other than take hydrocodone
- Lying about an injury for the goal of receiving another prescription
- Marked mood changes
- Reduced time spent in the activities they used to enjoy or value
- Requesting frequent hydrocodone refills
- Seeing more than two doctors to get an additional prescription
- Social isolation
- Spending more time away from anyone who would warn them off their drug use
- Withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug
Their ongoing substance abuse will also start affecting almost every aspect of their life. As a result, you are highly likely to notice that they have been neglecting their responsibilities and obligations at work, home, and school. They may also display problems in their personal and professional relationships.
Short and Long Term Symptoms of Hydrocodone Addiction
Continued hydrocodone abuse will eventually give rise to the development of tolerance. When this happens, you will increasingly find yourself using the drug on a more regular basis or in higher doses. Only by so doing will you be able to derive the pleasurable euphoria that your body has come to associate with this medication.
Eventually, your tolerance will cause you to become physically and psychologically dependent on hydrocodone. When this happens, you will start displaying the common symptoms of an opioid use disorder.
Some of the signs that you will display when you are addicted to hydrocodone include:
- You reach a point where you start feeling like you are no longer able to live unless you have hydrocodone
- You think about the drug several times on any given day
- Your body increasingly depends on this medication to function properly
- Your use of the drug starts affecting other aspects of your life
When you get worried that you have become addicted to hydrocodone, it is important that you go for a medical evaluation and assessment to determine if this is true. However, there are other short and long term signs and symptoms of an opioid use disorder that could point out the fact that you are addicted. These include:
a) Short Term Symptoms of Hydrocodone Addiction
- Constricted pupils
- Damaged relationships due to your ongoing hydrocodone use
- Dramatic mood swings
- Evident euphoria
- Failure at school or work, or both
- Financial problems
- Losing consciousness
- Nodding out
- Noticeable sedation
- Slowed respiration
- Social isolation
- Uncharacteristic lying
- Visiting multiple pharmacies or doctors so that you can obtain multiple prescriptions
b) Long Term Symptoms of Hydrocodone Addiction
Research studies have shown that opioid use disorders are often accompanied by a wide variety of physical symptoms. However, you might not always be aware of all the long term symptoms of this type of substance use disorder. Even so, long term use of this drug could lead to the following effects:
- A high level of pain sensitivity
- Decreased sexual drive
- Depletion of testosterone
- Diminished immune system functioning, especially if you have an immunity disorder like HIV/AIDS
- Galactorrhea (or excessive milk production) in women
- Irregular menstruation or an absence of menstruation in women
- Lack of motivation
- Lowered fertility in women
- Reduced energy
If you abuse drugs that include both hydrocodone and another substance, there is a high risk that you could suffer other side effects. These include but are not limited to drugs that include acetaminophen and hydrocodone, such as Norco, Lortab, and Vicodin. Doing so in the long term could also increase your risk of developing liver disease - a condition that could potentially turn out to be fatal.
You also need to avoid drinking alcohol while you are using hydrocodone. This is because it could cause you to develop liver damage - which will soon after be followed by liver disease.
Some of the signs and symptoms of liver damage mostly as a result of hydrocodone abuse in the long term include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Ongoing nausea
- Stomach pain
- Yellowing of the eyes and/or skin
Cocaine Overdose Risks
One of the risks that you stand to suffer while abusing hydrocodone is that you could suffer a drug overdose. When this happens, you will display some or all of the following overdose symptoms:
- Bluish tint to the fingernails and lips
- Cessation of breath
- Cold and clammy skin
- Generalized muscle weakness
- Loss of consciousness
- Low blood pressure
- Pinpoint pupils
- Profound drowsiness
- Shallow breathing
- Labored breathing
- Slowed breathing
- Slowed heartbeat
- Spasms of the intestinal tract
- Stomach spasms
- Trouble breathing
- Weak pulse
If you display any of these symptoms - or see someone doing so - it is essential that you seek emergency medical attention immediately. This is because a hydrocodone overdose could turn out to be fatal.
Best Options for Recovery
The best way to overcome your hydrocodone abuse and addiction is by checking into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment program. This program will first help you overcome your physical dependence and the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Abdominal cramping
- Body aches
- Difficulty sleeping
- Goosebumps on the skin
- Large pupils
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
After that, the program will provide you with other evidence based or alternative therapies to help you overcome your psychological, emotional, and behavioral dependence on hydrocodone. These therapies could prove useful in ensuring that you achieve a state of full sobriety and recovery both in the long and in the short term.
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