Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid that that affects the central nervous system by binding to opiate receptors in the brain, changing our perception of and pain while causing side effects, including euphoria. Regular, daily use of hydrocodone may lead you to physical dependence, which manifests as withdrawal symptoms when you significantly lower dosage or stop using hydrocodone altogether. How and why does dependence develop? We examine here and invite your questions about hydrocodone at the end.
What is hydrocodone dependence?
Hydrocodone use may lead you to physical dependence, or even addiction. On one hand, the body creates a level of tolerance towards the drug after using hydrocodone for a period of time. An expected outcome of regular use, the human system starts to adapt to hydrocodone so that it can maintain homeostasis. After a few weeks of daily dosing, the physical need to take hydrocodone is required to feel normal.
Hydrocodone dependence means that the body functions normally only if there is hydrocodone in the system. When the hydrocodone dose is lowered, or totally cut out, hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms take place. Furthermore, hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms start only three hours after the last dose intake, and they can be severe and hard. The sharp symptoms peak about 72 hours after the last intake, and may last for up to couple of weeks. Some hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:
- drug cravings
- mood changes
- sleep disturbances
- skin abnormalities
On the other hand, hydrocodone addiction is characterized by psychological dependence manifested as drug cravings, obsessive thinking, and drug seeking. Moreover, you can be diagnosed with hydrocodone dependence, but not be addicted to it. To sum up, dependence is the state of the body, while addiction is the state of the mind.
Are you dependent on hydrocodone?
Every hydrocodone user reacts differently to the drug. Some may develop physical dependence only a few weeks after the first intake, some need more weeks to develop hydrocodone dependency. To mitigate risks of becoming dependent on hydrocodone, use hydrocodone only as prescribed by doctor.
Signs of hydrocodone dependence occur if you:
- experience hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms after you lower/or quit the hydrocodone dose
- have built up a level of hydrocodone tolerance
- feel like you physically need hydrocodone to function normally (also a sign of addiction)
How to end hydrocodone dependence
The first step to take to end dependence is to admit that you have a problem. The very next step is to seek help from licensed medical worker such as a family doctor, psychologist, MD addictions specialist, or a psychiatrist. Moreover, hydrocodone withdrawal treatment can be more likely successful if you have supportive care from friends and family and appropriate medical help. The principle methods used during hydrocodone addiction treatment include:
Tapered withdrawal – Perhaps the most safe and widely recommended process, tapered withdrawal includes specially designed and controlled cessation therapy supervised by an addiction professional. At least 2-3-weeks of slowly lowering doses has proven to be less severe and possible more effective than sudden cessation. But, in some case cold turkey hydrocodone withdrawal is also effective.
Supportive withdrawal – Being a habit-forming opioid, hydrocodone cravings can be difficult to address. Therefore, becoming a part of supportive group can be very helpful in overcoming hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms.
Pharmacological treatment – Sometimes, it helps to take medication when you are ending dependence on hydrocodone. Medications such as clonidine, naltrexone, buprenorphine, benzodiazepines, and/or antidepressants may be prescribed to you to address symptoms of withdrawal, cravings, or even underlying mental health issues.
Home treatment- Hydrocodone withdrawal can be treated at home if you receive medical clearance to do so. If you are in good health and have a strong desire to end hydrocodone dependence, over-the-counter medications, massage, hot baths/showers, and home remedies can help ease individual withdrawal symptoms. For example, you can use Advil or Ibuprofen to treat pain and aches; icy hot creams or hot packs to treat chills, and so on. Keep in mind that you will need an evaluation before trying to detox from hydrocodone at home; it isn’t for everyone.
Hydrocodone dependence questions
Did we address your questions about hydrocodone dependence? If you have any concerns and questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section at the bottom of the page. We will try to respond to you as soon as possible.