Wednesday February 20th 2019

You're leaving and will be automatically redirected to

Go back to

Hydrocodone use

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid agonist similar to codeine, and it is one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S. Coming in a variety of forms, hydrocodone is often used in combination with other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen; its primary use is to change the way we perceive pain. However, hydrocodone’s ability to change the function of the brain may lead to a variety of problems including physical dependence, level of drug tolerance, and even hydrocodone addiction.

More here on medical and recreational uses of hydrocodone, with a section at the end for your individual questions or comments.

Medical use of hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is used orally as a narcotic analgesic to treat moderate to severe pain or as an antitussive to treat cough. Moreover, it is only available in combination with other ingredients such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. In fact, different hydrocodone combination products are prescribed for different medical use.

Similar to other opioids, hydrocodone too has the ability to change the functions of the brain by affecting different nerve receptor sites. For instance, it relieves pain by changing the central nervous system’s receptors response to pain, and relieves cough by lowering activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing. It can also cause euphoric effect as an expected side effect. How and why do people get in trouble with hydrocodone? Usually, by taking it to get high.

Hydrocodone recreational use

The core reason for using hydrocodone recreationally is to get high; euphoria triggers a sense of satisfaction and a warm or pleasant numbing sensation through the body. Note here that the Controlled Substance Act has classified hydrocodone as a Schedule II class drug that is marketed in multi-ingredient Schedule III products. USING HYDROCODONE OTHER THAN PRESCRIBED IS ILLEGAL.

Depending on the different modes of administration, hydrocodone’s effect start about 30-60 minutes after intake, and its euphoric feeling lasts for about 4-6 hours. But, it takes a day or two for hydrocodone to leave the human system. Moreover, this opioid is available as a capsule, a tablet, syrup, clear liquid (solution), long-acting capsule, and long-acting solution.

Coming in various forms, hydrocodone is abused in different ways which bring many risks to you, but the biggest one is definitely overdose. Hydrocodone has been used recreationally in the following ways:

By mouth (chewing, crushing, and drinking) – This is the most common way of hydrocodone use, and usually it is abused with combination of other prescribed drugs. Administrating it this way, however, can cause mouth problems that lead to tooth decay and gum damage.

By nose – Snorting hydrocodone allows the drug to enter the bloodstream quicker than taking it orally, but the risks are higher. Taking it this way, hydrocodone is far more concentrated, and gives instant “hit” to the brain. Regular use can lead to nasal necrosis and perforation.

Under the skin – Injection is rare in cases of hydrocodone intake. Intravenous injection of hydrocodone triggers an almost immediate action, allowing hydrocodone to cross the blood-brain barrier quickly.

NOTE: In any case of suspected hydrocodone overdose you should immediately call 911 or the Poison Control Center  (1-800-222-1222).

Long term hydrocodone use

In medicine, ‘long term’ or ‘chronic’ is defined as drug use of up to 6 months or more. While long-term use of hydrocodone is considered a relatively safe and effective therapy when used as prescribed by a doctor, taking hydrocodone for years can affect the body and brain. First, long-term hydrocodone use may lead to hydrocodone dependence and increased tolerance to opioids. Those who become physically dependent and go through hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms when doses are stopped or lowered abruptly.

Some of the more common side effects of long-term hydrocodone use:

  • Anxiety or mood disorders
  • Constipation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue and body weakness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired mental alertness
  • Sleeping troubles
  • Urinary retention

Prolonged use of hydrocodone

Consistent, regular use of hydrocodone for a period of time can cause dependency and potentially harsh withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking it. The prolonged use of hydrocodone may lead to developing a level of drug tolerance in the system. At this point, hydrocodone users usually start to take a bigger dose to trigger the wanted euphoric effect.

When you cut down on hydrocodone dose after you are dependent on it, the brain and the body have adapted to its presence.  Because hydrocodone is a central nervous system depressant, the brain “speeds up” some processes to achieve homeostasis and function normally.  So, when you stop taking hydrocodone, withdrawal symptoms are actually these processes “slowing down” again until hydrocodone completely leaves the system. For hydrocodone, these symptoms often mimic a bad flu.

Usually, hydrocodone withdrawal starts a few hours after a missed dose, peak about 72 hours after the last intake, and can take more than a week before physical symptoms start to fade away.  Some of the most commonly reported hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chills, goose bumps
  • Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Mood disorders
  • Muscle pain and aches
  • Runny nose or tearing of the eyes

Hydrocodone use questions

RX drugs like hydrocodone must be taken as the doctor recommends. So, be very careful when you are using hydrocodone because it is a strong narcotic and you may require hydrocodone addiction treatment if you’ve been using or abusing it for a longer period of time. Furthermore, if you still have any concerns about hydrocodone use, please do not hesitate to ask. Your questions and comments are welcomed in the section below.

Reference Sources: OASIS: Tampering with Prescription Opioids
NIH: MedicinePlus: Hydrocodone
FDA: Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee
NIH: DrugAbuse: Prescription Drugs
TOXNET: Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone use

How Does Hydrocodone Work in the Body (INFOGRAPHIC)

How Does Hydrocodone Work in the Body (INFOGRAPHIC)

June 30th, 2018

A look at the effects of hydrocodone has on body and how it is metabolized. Down this FREE INFOGRAPHIC for your school, office, or treatment clinic wall.

61 When does hydrocodone kick in?

When does hydrocodone kick in?

April 8th, 2013

Hydrocodone takes about 30 minutes after oral ingestion to kick in. More on how modes of administration affect hydrocodone onset here.

20 How is hydrocodone prescribed?

How is hydrocodone prescribed?

August 17th, 2012

Hydrocodone can prescribed in many doses and combination formulas by an M.D. in an inpatient or outpatient setting, or in a pain management clinic. As an opiate medication used to help manage pain, hydrocodone is only available by prescription due to its addiction liability. More on how hydrocodone is prescribed here.

31 How does hydrocodone work?

How does hydrocodone work?

June 14th, 2012

Scientists still don’t know exactly how hydrocodone works. In general, hydrocodone works as an opiate agonist by changing the way the brain and body perceive pain. More here on hydrocodone’s action on the central nervous system.

2 What is hydrocodone used for?

What is hydrocodone used for?

May 30th, 2012

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

92 How long does hydrocodone last?

How long does hydrocodone last?

May 23rd, 2012

Hydrocodone lasts about 4-6 hours. Learn more about hydrocodone dosing, dangers, and more here.

250 How much hydrocodone is too much?

How much hydrocodone is too much?

March 26th, 2012

How much hydrocodone is too much for your body depends on your personal opioid tolerance and what other medications you are taking. While it takes a significant amount of hydrocodone to overdose, hydrocodone is usually combined with other, more dangerous medications. More on hydrocodone overdose, acetaminophen poisoning, and safe doses here.

23 Snorting hydrocodone

Snorting hydrocodone

March 15th, 2012

What’s more effective – snorting hydrocodone or taking hydrocodone orally? Does snorting hydrocodone get you high? What are the dangers of snorting hydrocodone and can they be avoided? More on hydrocodone effects when snorted here.

514 Hydrocodone detection times

Hydrocodone detection times

March 14th, 2012

Hydrocodone doesn’t stay in your system long. Blood and urine tests probably won’t pick up hydrocodone if it’s been several days since last use. More on the detection window and drug testing for hydrocodone here.

45 Can you die from taking hydrocodone?

Can you die from taking hydrocodone?

February 16th, 2012

Yes, you can die from a taking hydrocodone during overdose. But in normal amounts, hydrocodone is usually safe. Symptoms and treatments for hydrocodone overdose here.

Page 1 of 212

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “Hydrocodone use
10:37 pm February 22nd, 2017

Can you take tylenol arthritis with hydrocodone?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
6:08 pm February 23rd, 2017

Hi Melinda. I suggest that you consult with your doctor.