Hydrocodone is an opioid prescription painkiller used to treat pain. Doctors prescribe hydrocodone to treat severe pain that is unmanageable by non-opioid medications. You can also find it in some prescription cough and cold medicines.
Although hydrocodone has medical uses, it’s a highly addictive and potentially dangerous drug. Hydrocodone misuse can cause long-term physical and mental health problems, including dependence and addiction. If you or a loved one is living with hydrocodone addiction or abuse, professional help and support are available. Addiction is scary; scientifically proven treatments can help anyone recover from hydrocodone abuse and live fulfilling and productive lives.
Recognizing the Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction
If you’re worried that you or someone else is struggling with prescription opioid addiction, recognizing the problem is the first step to long-term recovery. Every individual experiences addiction differently, but there are some common signs and symptoms to look out for.
Physical symptoms and signs of hydrocodone addiction include:
- Pupil constriction
- Dry throat
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using the drug
Behavioral signs and symptoms include:
- Social isolation
- Neglect of responsibilities at home or work
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- ‘Doctor shopping’ to obtain multiple prescriptions
- Financial problems
Psychological symptoms of opioid abuse and addiction include:
- Unusually cheerful or despondent mood
- Difficulty thinking
- Seeking or using hydrocodone becoming the priority in your life
If you repeatedly use hydrocodone over time, you can develop a physical dependence on the substance. Physical dependence happens when your body gets used to the presence of the drug in your body and begins to adjust its functions in response. Over time, you need more of the substance to experience the same effects and eventually become dependent on the substance to feel normal.
If you suddenly stop using the substance, you usually experience a series of withdrawal symptoms as your body readjusts. Opioid withdrawal symptoms typically resemble severe flu, and may include:
- high blood pressure
In severe cases, opioid withdrawal can be life-threatening, and it is dangerous to undergo the procedure alone. However, with professional medical support, you can safely detox from hydrocodone under the guidance of licensed medics who ensure your safety at all times.
Symptoms of Hydrocodone Abuse
Harmful prescribing practices in recent decades have meant that some people have developed addictions to hydrocodone even when following a prescription exactly. However, if you misuse or abuse hydrocodone, the chances of developing an addiction are much higher. Moreover, hydrocodone abuse itself comes with serious health risks and the danger of a fatal overdose.
Many of the behavioral, physical, and psychological signs of hydrocodone abuse are similar to addiction. However, an individual who abuses hydrocodone but is not yet addicted may retain more control over their drug use.
Some behavioral signs of hydrocodone abuse include:
- Taking larger or more frequent doses of the drug than a doctor prescribes
- Obtaining prescriptions for hydrocodone from various doctors
- Taking hydrocodone without a prescription
- Snorting or injecting hydrocodone
- Stealing tablets from friends or family
- Withdrawing from friends and family
People misusing hydrocodone may also exhibit various physical symptoms because of their drug use. These include:
- Symptoms of intoxication such as euphoria, drowsiness, constricted pupils, nausea, and vomiting
- Withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop taking hydrocodone
If you or someone you know is abusing hydrocodone, you should seek professional advice as soon as possible. The earlier you identify and confront the problem, the quicker and easier the recovery journey will be.
Diagnosing Hydrocodone Addiction
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), addiction is a severe type of substance use disorder, a condition characterized by the impaired ability to exercise control over substance use.
Substance use disorders are medical diagnoses that a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist should perform. To diagnose the condition, they will assess the following symptoms, with a higher number of symptoms representing a more severe disorder.
The eleven symptoms are:
- Taking larger amounts of the substance than you would like to
- Wanting to cut down substance use but being unable to
- Spending a lot of time acquiring, using, and recovering from substance use
- Experiencing cravings to use the substance
- Neglecting responsibilities due to substance use
- Continuing to use a substance despite consequential relationship problems
- Using substances even when it puts you in danger
- Continuing to take a substance when it causes or exacerbates mental or physical health issues
- Requiring more of a substance to achieve the desired effect
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you stop or reduce substance use
In general, two or three of these symptoms demonstrate a mild substance use disorder; four or five show a moderate disorder, and six or seven (or more) point to an addiction.
Causes of Hydrocodone Addiction
The causes of addiction are complex, and there is no single reason that someone develops an addiction. However, certain risk factors make the chance of developing an addiction more likely. Nevertheless, someone may develop an addiction without being exposed to any of these risk factors; another may experience the risk factors without developing an addiction.
Risk factors for developing addiction include:
- Age of First Use – Because our brains are developing throughout adolescence and our early twenties, the behaviors we establish during these years can be particularly important. Misusing substances in this period can have a variety of long-term harmful effects. Over 90% of people who develop addictions begin using substances in their teens and early twenties.
- Genetics – Genetics may account for up to 50% of the risk of developing an addiction. Families with a history of addiction can help to protect children from substance abuse by holding open conversations to help them understand the risks
- Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions – Underlying mental health conditions like anxiety and depression can make developing an addiction more likely. People may turn to substances as a coping mechanism for emotional distress, but find that substance use only exacerbates their condition. Managing mental health concerns through effective treatment and support is an important part of preventing substance abuse.
- Exposure to Trauma – Exposure to childhood trauma and early life adversity increases the chance of developing an addiction. This may include experiencing childhood abuse and neglect or witnessing violent or scary events.
- Environmental Factors – Several environmental factors can influence the risk of developing addiction, including substance use amongst family and friends; accessibility to alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs; and frequent exposure to substances in culture and advertising.
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Treating the Symptoms of Hydrocodone Abuse and Addiction
Living with addiction is tough, but there is a way out. Decades of scientific research have uncovered a range of effective treatment approaches that can support anyone to recover from addiction and build a fulfilling future.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, effective hydrocodone addiction rehab programs usually combine a variety of treatment options in an individualized treatment plan to suit each client’s needs. At the United Recovery California treatment centers, we identify and address the underlying causes of addiction, supporting clients through a journey of personal growth that offers the skills and foundations for long-term abstinence.
Evidence-based treatment options may include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Group programming
- Support groups
- Complementary therapies
- Life skills development
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an evidence-based therapy proven to help people recover from addiction. It helps clients to identify harmful thought and behavioral patterns that underlie substance abuse and make positive and meaningful changes. It teaches healthy coping mechanisms that support individuals to manage cravings and periods of emotional distress without turning back to substance use.
Support groups are self-organized meetings of people in recovery. They are a place for shared understanding, advice, inspiration, and a source of comfort from shared experiences. Because they are free and accessible, attending regular support group meetings is an important part of long-term recovery. Familiarising yourself with the structure and set-up of support groups during your treatment program helps set the stage for the journey ahead.
Scientific research has uncovered a range of medications that can support clients through early recovery, freeing up focus and energy to concentrate on treatment programs. Medications may reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, decrease drug cravings, and block the psychoactive effects of drugs. While medications alone don’t usually offer a lasting solution to drug abuse, they can play an important role in the recovery journey.
Residential Recovery with United Recovery California
In our residential recovery program, clients stay at the treatment center for the duration of treatment. Residential stays offer a safe environment for early recovery, away from the distractions and triggers of everyday life, giving clients space to fully engage in their treatment program. It also ensures round-the-clock medical support during detox and other stages of the recovery experience.
Recovery is a life-long process and our support doesn’t end once you leave the center. We provide individualized aftercare packages, offering ongoing help to guide you through any challenging times ahead.
If you or someone you know is living with hydrocodone addiction, contact us today. We’re here to support you to a better place.