Hydrocodone is one of the most commonly prescribed opioids, and it has a lot to do with the current state of affairs our country is suffering. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that nearly 130 people in the United States die every day after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of drugs extends much further than just prescription drugs, and these also include synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The epidemic has reached levels that far exceed anything we could have planned for.
You may find it difficult to find someone or another that hasn’t been affected by opioids. It is common in some communities to experience a significant loss of life due to opioids. Unfortunately, hydrocodone is prescribed at significantly higher rates than other opiates around the country. Hydrocodone is available in many different forms, such as capsules, tablets, syrup, or a liquid.
Despite the risks readily available through a simple Google search, hydrocodone continues to be abused at a significant level. It’s unfortunate for those who use the medication properly are still prone to developing a dependence, which can lead to addiction. The long-term abuse of hydrocodone is often viewed as abusing two drugs. It is commonly paired with acetaminophen, it carries other risks that can injure your body.
One of the most serious concerns about hydrocodone use is that the pain reliever acetaminophen is present. Abusing the substance puts you at high risk of developing severe liver damage or organ failure due to acetaminophen poisoning. Several adverse reactions may occur from hydrocodone alone, but when you involve acetaminophen, the likelihood of injury increases significantly.
Hydrocodone is an opioid, which means it falls under a broader umbrella of substances known as central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Other factors will affect the timeline of withdrawal and types of symptoms someone can experience. Hydrocodone withdrawal will occur in two separate phases. The initial withdrawal symptoms will be similar to the common cold, but the more intense stages will be more like the flu.
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The physical symptoms that accompany opioid withdrawal are the most common. However, they can also include psychological and emotional symptoms, as well. Anxiety and agitation can arise in the initial phase, while depression can accompany the second stage of symptoms. Some have reported experiencing suicidal symptoms as they battle depression during hydrocodone withdrawal. Immediate medical attention is required in the event of this occurring. You must report these thoughts to your doctor or addiction specialist.
Intense cravings often accompany withdrawal, and when you experience cravings while dealing with intense symptoms, it makes abstinence challenging to attain alone.
Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms, while extremely uncomfortable, are not nearly as dangerous when compared to alcohol or benzodiazepines. They are, however, severe enough to cope with on your own. It is typical for someone using hydrocodone, who tries to stop on their own, to relapse.
Cold-like symptoms in the early stages will be the first of what you can expect. Hydrocodone can produce withdrawal symptoms that occur six hours after your last dose, and around the 72-hour point, you can experience the worst of the symptoms.
While you experience cold and flu-like symptoms, cravings will be overwhelming. As time marches on, the severity of the symptoms will gradually decrease. Most symptoms will be gone after a week’s time, but fatigue, insomnia, depression, and anxiety can persist for a month or more.
If you are still experiencing these symptoms a month after cessation, you must consult with an addiction specialist. It can indicate you are experiencing post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which requires appropriate medical guidance to address the symptoms. PAWS is common after long-term opioid abuse, and the length will vary from one person to another
Hydrocodone withdrawal isn’t deadly, but it is intense enough to lead someone back into actively using the drug. Those who return to hydrocodone after they’ve quit place themselves at an elevated risk of overdose due to their tolerance shrinking. Hydrocodone overdose can be deadly without proper treatment. If you suspect that you or someone you know has overdosed, you must immediately call 911.
The benefit of entering into medical detox allows you to transition into a sober lifestyle safely. When you are removed from accessing hydrocodone, it gives you time to focus on getting sober.
Medical professionals will also administer medication that helps deal with the worst of your withdrawal symptoms. In addition, detox will hold you accountable for your commitment to sobriety. A caring team will get you right on track to where you need to be.
The purpose of detox is to transition into a sober state while mitigating any risks safely. Unfortunately, it is not enough to maintain long-term sobriety. You must commit yourself to ongoing care and remain in treatment for an undetermined amount of time. A minimum of three months is crucial to long-term recovery, but the medical team will determine what is best suited for your situation.
The continuum of care refers to the recovery that oversees all stages of care. It will start with the most intensive phase, which is detox, and be followed by a less intense level of care. These may include residential treatment, intensive outpatient, or an outpatient treatment center. During your stay in treatment, various therapies will be implemented and customized around your needs.
The most effective treatment will ensure that you have long-term support. Your lasting commitment will be the factor that fuels your dedication to a sober lifestyle.
Treatment, C. F. (1970, January 01). Chapter 3. Intensive Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64088/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). How do medications to treat opioid use disorder work? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/how-do-medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction-work
Hydrocodone: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a614045.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
Opiate and opioid withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm