The prescription drug addiction problem in America is worsening every day. Among the prescription medications that are handed out by doctors, hydrocodone is among the most popular and dangerous.
Hydrocodone is a synthetic opiate medication prescribed for pain relief purposes. People who are prescribed the drug may suffer from chronic, acute, or surgical pain. Many of its users have cancer and other terminal illnesses. It works very well for some people but also carries a high risk of addiction. Often, hydrocodone addiction treatment is needed for people who become addicted to this dangerous opioid.
If you or a loved one struggle with hydrocodone addiction, Northpoint Washington can help. We understand how important comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs can be when you’re struggling to get your life back on track. Our medical detox and residential options provide the support you need from hydrocodone addiction treatment in our high-end, professionally staffed center. Learn more and get started today by calling 425.437.3298.
How Is Hydrocodone Prescribed?
The drug is found in several prescription medications. Some common products that contain hydrocodone are:
The most common hydrocodone medication is Vicodin. Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, which can increase the long-term risks of using and abusing the drug. While acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter pain medication, it can cause liver, stomach, and kidney problems.
Why Are Opioids so Dangerous?
Opioids like hydrocodone are particularly addictive because they target parts of the brain that produce pleasure. Usually, people get pleasure from eating food, laughing, exercising, or doing other fun things. When people do these things, their brains receive a rush of serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals produce happiness as a way to push people to do them more often.
When people use opioids, they bypass the effort it takes to release these chemicals and artificially flood the brain with them. The user feels euphoric as the drug takes effect. Because few other activities can produce the euphoria that opioids do, the brain starts to crave the drug. If someone feeds those cravings, they can start to become chemically dependent on the substance.
What Is Hydrocodone Abuse?
Prescription drug abuse is when someone uses a medication against the prescribed directions or without a prescription at all. Some common ways people abuse hydrocodone include:
Taking higher doses than prescribed
Taking it for longer than prescribed
Visiting multiple doctors to get several different prescriptions
Buying it illegally on the street
Using illicit methods to consume it, like snorting or injecting it
Drug abuse is dangerous and often results in hospitalization. Statistics show opioids are responsible for more non-medical emergency room visits than any other cause. More than 100,000 ER visits that occur each year are related to Vicodin and other prescription opioids.
Short and Long-Term Side Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse
When used responsibly and according to the prescription, hydrocodone drugs can provide short-term pain relief. That’s why they’re such popular drugs for doctors to prescribe. Unfortunately, there are many people who choose to increase their dosage without permission or take it for longer than they were prescribed. People who do this can suffer from some serious negative side effects.
When someone begins abusing Vicodin or other hydrocodone medications, their symptoms may be mild. However, the longer they abuse it, the more dangerous they become. Some negative side effects of hydrocodone abuse include:
- Severe confusion/disorientation
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Slowed heart rate
- Significantly painful headaches
- Blurry vision
- The onset of anxiety symptoms
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Onset of seizures
- Muscle and bone pain
- Breathing trouble
- Risk of coma
- Risk of developing an addiction
Obviously, these effects are a hefty price to pay for a high. Fortunately, addiction doesn’t have to remain in your life. With proper treatment and a commitment to recovery, you can overcome your habit.
Signs of Hydrocodone Abuse
Abusing this drug is particularly dangerous because the drug targets your central nervous system. As a result, abuse can lead to a slowing down of important body functions. Your pain receptors, heart rate, and blood pressure can all decrease in functionality. This can lead to more severe side effects like a coma or even death.
If you or someone you love is abusing drugs like Vicodin, therefore, it’s important to reach out for help. Some physical signs of abuse are:
- Dilated pupils – The eyes can be a helpful way to identify opiate abuse. When someone has constricted pupils, it’s a sign that their central nervous system is not operating at an optimum rate.
- Breathing difficulties – Narcotics block the brain’s pain receptors. Interestingly enough, pain receptors are closely linked to the part of the brain that regulates breathing. It’s even common for patients who take small amounts of the drug to have some difficulty breathing.
- Nodding off – One common stereotype of people struggling with opioids is that they can’t seem to stay awake. When users take too much of the drug, their central nervous system starts to slow down, and they fall asleep. In severe cases, nodding off can be a sign of an overdose.
- Nausea – All opioids are known to cause nausea and vomiting. The brain has a mechanism that triggers vomiting whenever a potentially dangerous chemical enters the bloodstream or digestive system.
- Frequent constipation – Hydrocodone disrupts the digestive process. When food can’t move through the system rapidly, the user’s body will take longer to digest it. In severe instances, abusing opioids can lead to stomach paralysis, which can lead to long-term consequences if not treated properly.
Spotting Signs of a Hydrocodone Use Disorder
When you’re addicted to a drug, you feel compelled to use it regardless of the consequences of doing so. An addiction, or substance use disorder, can develop at any time after substance abuse has started.
Some of the more common signs of hydrocodone use disorder include:
- Becoming isolated from friends and family because of your drug use
- Hiding your drug use from the people you love most
- Purchasing it illegally
- Stealing money to pay for the drug
- Experiencing negative side effects of addiction but having no desire to stop using drugs in spite of them
Overdosing on Hydrocodone
If you take enough of the drug to bring your vital functions to a halt, you’ll experience a hydrocodone overdose. An overdose happens when your central nervous system slows down so much that it no longer sends signals to your heart or lungs. As a result, your heart and lungs can stop working entirely.
It’s critical to get help for someone if they are experiencing an overdose. Signs of an overdose emergency include:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Shallow breathing or slowed breathing
- Pinpoint pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Extreme weakness or limpness
- Bluish or gray skin, lips, or nails
- Loss of consciousness or coma
If you recognize the signs of an overdose, call emergency services immediately. If you are trained to administer Narcan, you can administer the life-saving drug as well. Opioid overdose can be reversed, but it must be done as soon as possible. Waiting to find help can cause a person experiencing an overdose to die.
The Dangers of Mixing Drugs
Individuals who abuse their prescription by taking too much or using illicit methods to consume it (such as snorting it or injecting it) are far more likely to overdose than responsible users. An overdose is the biggest risk involved in hydrocodone abuse and addiction. When you overdose, you can face lifelong health consequences, slip into a coma, or even die.
Because narcotics and alcohol are depressants, they slow down your central nervous system. When you ingest either one of them, your heartbeat, blood pressure, and body temperature will all decrease. When you combine them, however, you can slow your body down to a dangerous level. This mixture is a common cause of overdose for many drug users.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
Hydrocodone is such a powerful and potent medication. Its withdrawal symptoms can be powerful, as well. If you plan on trying to detox from the drug, it’s important to get some professional help and guidance.
Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Runny nose
- Profuse sweating
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Severe cravings
In severe cases, individuals may experience seizures during withdrawal. It’s important, therefore, that you consult a doctor before attempting to quit using.
The Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline
If you’re a habitual user, you’ll probably experience withdrawals once you stop taking the drug. Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms will begin around eight hours after your last dose. From there, the withdrawal timeline will look something like this:
- Immediate to day three – If you’re a heavy user, you’ll start to experience withdrawal symptoms pretty quickly. Your muscles and bones will probably start to ache. You may also start sweating heavily and feel nauseous.
- Days three to five – After a couple of days without using, the withdrawal symptoms will become more extreme. Between the third and fifth day, your symptoms will probably “peak,” meaning that this is the worst they are going to get. You may vomit, sweat profusely, have diarrhea, and experience extreme cravings.
- Days six to eight – Toward the end of your first week off of the drug, the most severe symptoms will start to dissipate. Because the physical pain will have passed by this point, you may start to feel anxious or depressed.
- Long-term recovery – During your first month after detox, you might become increasingly anxious or depressed. It is important to remember that these symptoms are temporary. Now that you’ve finished detox, you are on your way to a healthier, happier life.
Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Washington
Hydrocodone is an extremely dangerous drug. The short and long-term side effects of it can be hazardous to your health and well-being. Continuing a habit of abuse can lead to a multitude of serious problems.
Northpoint Washington has a reputation for being one of the best hydrocodone addiction treatment centers in Washington state. We’ve been able to invest in the lives of so many people in order to help them overcome their addictions. If you struggle with a dependence on this or any other drug, we can help you with medical detox and residential treatment options.
Medical detox – Trying to quit using opioids on your own can be dangerous. In our program, you’ll receive the medical care you need to safely and comfortably detox from drugs.
Residential treatment – Residential treatment gives you a place away from home where you can focus on your recovery. Our programs include therapies and activities to help you find sobriety and rebuild your life.