A Schedule II drug, hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from codeine, which itself is synthesized from the opium poppy. Hydrocodone and drugs that contain hydrocodone are available in the market under many brand names – Vicodin, Lortab and Norco. Even many opioid painkillers are a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, such as drug sold as Tylenol. Developed in the early 20th century, semi-synthetic opiates used chemicals from the natural opiate plant as a base. They are deemed safer and more effective for medicinal purposes than pure or natural opiates.
Clinicians prescribe hydrocodone for acute pain after surgery or after an accident. Due to its addictive character, experts do not recommend the opioid for prolonged use. It is available in increments of 2.5 milligrams up to a maximum of 10 milligrams, in pill or liquid form. Experts warn about its use with alcohol or other prescription medications, such as benzodiazepines and opiates, as the same can be dangerous and even fatal.
People often abuse hydrocodone by taking a higher dosage than recommended or by using the drug for recreational purposes. Though it helps alleviate pain, frequent abuse of the drug can cause short-term and long-term damage to mental and physical well-being. When taken in large quantities, it can lead to hydrocodone abuse as well as addiction.
As per recent statistics, hydrocodone products, including Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Zohydro ER and generic hydrocodone were the most commonly misused subtype of prescription pain relievers in 2016. The drug, like other opioids, is extremely addictive and can result in overdose and death from respiratory depression.