Skip to content

Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone is a prescription semi-synthetic opioid pain reliever that is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone is often combined with the non-opioid pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol), and this combination is sold under the brand names Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab. 

Hydrocodone as a pain reliever
Opioids such as hydrocodone act by binding to their specific mu-opioid receptors in the nervous system. Once bound to these receptors, they release chemicals that create euphoria and pain relief. The body has its own natural pain relief system; however, when exogenous opioids are taken, they hijack this pain system creating a higher tolerance and preventing the natural chemicals known as endorphins from working appropriately.

After surgery or a severe injury, physicians may prescribe hydrocodone as a painkiller for a short time. However, this drug of abuse is overprescribed and can often be purchased illegally on the streets. On the streets, hydrocodone is commonly called vic, vikes, vicos, hydros, lorries, watsons, narco and tabs. One single pill of hydrocodone sells for $5-$20 on the street, depending on the dosage and location of purchase.

Hydrocodone addiction is characterized by the behavior that encompasses genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors that cause the individual to continue to use hydrocodone. This addiction is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving. Signs and symptoms of hydrocodone intoxication, withdrawal, and addiction are all different. It is essential to recognize the difference, so the correct treatment regimen can be administered as treatments vary for withdrawal and intoxication.

Signs and symptoms of Hydrocodone Intoxication

  • Drowsiness
  • Pupillary constriction
  • Slurred speech
  • Constipation
  • Respiratory depression (slow, shallow breathing)
  • Stupor
  • Coma

Signs and symptoms of Hydrocodone Addiction

  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Changes in personality
  • Excessive tiredness or excessive energy
  • Depression
  • Change in priorities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Financial problems
  • Involvement in criminal activity

Risk factors for hydrocodone addiction

  • Family history of substance abuse disorders
  • History of depression or anxiety
  • Past history of hydrocodone prescription use
  • Poverty and unemployment
  • Trauma and stressful life circumstances
  • History of untreated chronic or acute pain

Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction, how we can help

Since hydrocodone is an opioid, treatment for hydrocodone addiction is similar to treating any other opioid addiction.

The initial goal of treatment is to alleviate hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid agonist medications are administered in a tapered dosage until the individual is no longer at risk for withdrawal. Medication-assisted treatment is the first-line treatment regimen for hydrocodone and other opioid addictions. Medicines that contain opioids are administered long-term to reduce opioid cravings.

Medication-assisted treatment provides a way for the individual to be gradually weaned off their pre-existing addiction while minimizing the opioid withdrawal symptoms that would come from the process.

Psychotherapy modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and dialectal behavioral therapy are also used in combination with medication-assisted treatment.

The goal of psychotherapy is to teach the individual healthy life skills, coping skills, and relationship skills as addiction are often coupled with poor lifestyle habits.

Depending on the seriousness of the addiction, treatment professionals usually recommend residential treatment of intensive outpatient treatment, where the client can be in a safe environment and undergo individual, group, and family therapy for an average of four to six weeks.

The goals of treatment include the following:

  • Teach relapse prevention skills, healthy boundaries, and communication skills
  • Provide healthy recreational activities as alternatives to drug use
  • Help rebuild relationships
  • Provide education on the chronic disease of addiction
  • Help build and develop healthy coping and stress-reduction skills

AKUA Mind & Body Treatment Program

AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment program that offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for many different populations struggling with anxiety and other mental health and substance use disorders. We offer both intensive inpatient programs as well as outpatient treatment. AKUA Mind & Body works diligently with each client and their family to ensure that their depressive disorder treatment plan is specifically tailored to their needs, and not just their disorder.

Withdrawal symptoms of hydrocodone

  • Diarrhea 
  • Rhinorrhea (runny nose)
  • Diaphoresis
  • Lacrimation (tearing)
  • Shivering
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleeplessness
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Abdominal cramping,
  • Bone pains
  • Muscle aches
Skip to content