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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.

Hydrocodone abuse

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.

Hydrocodone abuse: signs and symptoms

Hydrocodone abuse can destroy an individual’s health, life and relationships. To avoid such a situation, it is important to recognize hydrocodone addiction signs. Highly addictive in nature, signs of hydrocodone abuse vary from person to person.

Following are some of the common symptoms of hydrocodone abuse:

  • Anxiety
  • Euphoria
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Dry throat
  • Itching

Hydrocodone addiction: health consequences

Although hydrocodone is a prescription drug, people buy and sell it on the streets or in black market, which increases the overdose rate. Hydrocodone abuse is similar to that of other opioids like fentanyl, heroin and morphine, but the drug is not as strong as these three, which means consumption of a higher dose yields the same level of pain relief and high. Hydrocodone abuse can be attributed to its long-term use and high doses.

Like other opioids, the drug binds to the mu opioid receptor in the body and increases levels of neurotransmitters, resulting in a euphoric state. When opioids enter the human body, they inhibit the body’s natural painkiller components known as endorphins. As a result, pain becomes more difficult to treat because the body develops tolerance to prescription opioids with time.

Following are some of the side effects of hydrocodone abuse:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Constipation
  • Pruritus or itchy skin
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Changes in mood

Like with other opioids, hydrocodone abuse can result in overdose and death secondary to respiratory depression. Hence, it is important to seek timely treatment for drug abuse or addiction. Although opioid withdrawal symptoms are painful (can cause excruciating bone pain, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and anxiety), they are not fatal. Undergoing a medically supervised detox program at certified hydrocodone detox centers can help one manage the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and attain complete recovery from addiction.

Hydrocodone addiction treatment

Fortunately, multiple pharmacologic agents can help individuals break the opioid addiction cycle. Methadone, naltrexone and Suboxone can help treat opioid dependence by reducing withdrawal side effects and curbing cravings, both of which can lead to relapse.

Medication-assisted therapy is a popular method of treating opioid addiction. Initially, methadone, which is a type of opioid, was the treatment of choice for opioid addiction. However, in 2002, the FDA approved the use of the combination of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) to manage opioid dependence.

To treat the addiction, experts usually recommend therapy in conjunction with pharmaceutical management. Therapy aims to treat and prevent the underlying need to use the opioid. Hydrocodone addiction treatment typically consists of a medically supervised hydrocodone detox treatment and therapy sessions. While the detoxification treatment focuses on decreasing drug dependence by gradually flushing out the unwanted substance from the body, continued therapy and counseling sessions help in identifying key reasons for the addiction, offering support through group counseling and developing effective tools to prevent a relapse.

Why choose Sovereign Health

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego provides effective treatment for teens and adolescents aged 12 to 17 years. In addition to traditional treatment, we also offer evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectal behavior therapy (DBT), multidimensional family therapy, neurofeedback, and cognitive remediation, among others to aid them in their treatment for hydrocodone addiction.

We encourage the support of families in addiction treatment, offering non-confrontational interventions in a relaxing environment as well as group and family therapy. Sovereign employs multiple evidence-based treatments for best results. We recognize that no two cases are the same, so we create treatment programs tailored to the specific mental and psychopharmacological needs of the patients. Our holistic approach to treatment makes us the preferred choice for many.

Accredited by The Joint Commission and licensed for the treatment of addiction, mental health and co-occurring disorders, Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego is one of the best behavioral healthcare providers in the country, which has well-qualified therapists, trained staff and all necessary equipment and technologies needed to provide comprehensive treatment programs to patients. If your teen or a loved one has a hydrocodone abuse problem, connect with our admissions team on our 24/7 helpline and know how we can make a difference to your loved ones’ life. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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