Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from codeine, which itself is synthesized from the opium poppy. It is listed as a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Hydrocodone and drugs that contain hydrocodone are sold under many brand names including Vicodin, Lortab and Norco. Many opioid painkillers are a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen – a drug branded as Tylenol. Semi-synthetic opiates were developed in the early 20th century and used chemicals from the natural opiate plant as a base. They are deemed safer and more effective for medical purposes than pure or natural opiates. Hydrocodone addiction is serious and it is important to educate the public about the hydrocodone addiction signs.
Hydrocodone is prescribed for acute, severe pain after surgery or after an accident. Due to its addictive character, hydrocodone should not be prescribed for a long duration. Hydrocodone is available in increments of 2.5 milligrams up to a maximum of 10 milligrams. It comes in pill or liquid form and should not be mixed with alcohol or other prescription medications such as benzodiazepines and opiates.
The Dangers Of Hydrocodone Addiction
Hydrocodone like other opioids is extremely addictive and can result in overdose and death from respiratory depression. Hydrocodone abuse can destroy an individual’s health, life and relationships. To prevent this from happening, it is important to recognize the hydrocodone addiction signs. Hydrocodone abuse side effects include the following:
- Respiratory depression
- Pruritis or itchy skin
- Pinpoint pupils
- Changes in sleep
- Changes in mood
Although hydrocodone is a prescription drug, it can also be found on the streets or the black market, which increases the overdose rate. Hydrocodone abuse is similar to abuse of all other opioids, such as fentanyl, heroin and morphine, but hydrocodone is not as strong as the former three, which means a higher dose is needed to obtain the same pain relief and high. Like other opioids, hydrocodone binds to the mu opioid receptor in the body and increases levels of neurotransmitters, resulting in a euphoric state. The body’s natural painkiller components, known as endorphins, are inhibited when opioids are introduced into the body. As a result, the pain becomes more difficult to treat, because the body develops tolerance to prescription opioids over time.
Like with other opioids, hydrocodone drug abuse can result in overdose and death secondary to respiratory depression. Although they are not fatal, opioid withdrawals are known to be the most painful, causing excruciating bone pain, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and anxiety. It is often these painful withdrawals that result in relapse and opioid use once again.