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Commonly prescribed for the treatment of cough, moderate pain and even sometimes severe or chronic pain, Hydrocodone is an opioid analgesic that has antitussive qualities. Unfortunately, when this drug is abused or used for a prolonged period of time, the risk of addiction quickly sets in. Hydrocodone addiction is not only dangerous, it’s a potentially deadly disease that can leave a user feeling alone, guilty and unable to cope.
How Prevalent is Hydrocodone Addiction?
According to the DEA, “since 2009, hydrocodone has been the second most frequently encountered opioid pharmaceutical in drug evidence submitted to federal, state, and local forensic laboratories.” Addiction to Hydrocodone occurs in thousands of people each year. As the most frequently prescribed opiate in America, hydrocodone prescriptions are dispensed more than 143 million times annually.
Hydrocodone Brand Names
Hydrocodone is marketed under an array of common brand names such as:
- Hycomine Compound
- Vicodin ES
- Lortab ASA
- Brovex HC
Dangers of Hydrocodone Addiction
Abusing Hydrocodone regularly can lead to an array of potential dangers and consequences. Some of the dangers that can arise from Hydrocodone abuse include:
- tolerance which results in an increased risk of overdose
- fatal complications resulting from overdose
- physical dependence which can cause withdrawal and other complications
- disease resulting from shared needles or promiscuous activities
- organ damage
- mental instabilities
Signs of Hydrocodone Abuse
Depending on the amount of the drug being used, the level of use, and various factors pertaining to each individual, hydrocodone abuse may or may not be easy for others to spot. Some of the signs of hydrocodone abuse include:
- making excuses to use hydrocodone
- using hydrocodone for fun
- using hydrocodone when the user should be taking part in other responsibilities such as performing house work, chores, working or doing homework
- telling lies about the amount of hydrocodone being used
- avoiding situations in which hydrocodone is not available
- taking extreme actions to get hydrocodone
Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction
When hydrocodone abuse continues for weeks or is a repeated problem, the risk of addiction quickly gains ground. People who are addicted to hydrocodone have an increased risk of suffering from long term consequences as a result of their addiction and often require professional treatment in order to quit and get their lives back on track. Some of the signs of hydrocodone addiction include:
- being preoccupied with the need to get hydrocodone, use hydrocodone or be intoxicated from hydrocodone
- telling lies to loved ones or friends about hydrocodone
- making promises to cut back or quit using hydrocodone but using anyway
- feeling sick or upset without hydrocodone
- feeling as if you cannot cope without hydrocodone
- using hydrocodone to cope with emotional pain or trauma
- avoiding responsibilities or neglecting responsibilities because you are under the influence of hydrocodone
- not caring for yourself because you are using hydrocodone
When an individual becomes addicted to hydrocodone, they generally continue to use the drug as a way of preventing themselves from having to deal with the symptoms of withdrawal. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “opiate withdrawal refers to the wide range of symptoms that occur after stopping or dramatically reducing opiate drugs after heavy and prolonged use (several weeks or more).”
The symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include:
- insomnia or changes in sleep patterns
- muscle aches and pains
- pain in the joints or bones
- tearing, sweating and chills
- goose flesh or goose bumps
- stomach cramping
While the symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal may be difficult to cope with, they are generally not dangerous for the user. Most symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal are non-life-threatening. These symptoms will usually begin around 12 hours after the last time hydrocodone is used and can last for days. Most withdrawal symptoms will dissipate within about 10 days at most as long as the user remains abstinent and does not relapse.
Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction
Treating hydrocodone addiction involves psychological therapy, behavioral therapy, detox, medical intervention and supportive care. Each case is different and may require a different combination of treatment in order to heal from the addiction. For some, medication maintenance will play a key role in how effective treatment will be, while others are able to effectively recover from this disease with supportive care and counseling.
Medication maintenance programs provide help for those who are addicted to opiates such as Hydrocodone by offering a way of coping and reducing withdrawal symptoms through pharmacological intervention. The most common maintenance drug is methadone.
According to HIV Prevention, “methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) can help injection drug users (IDUs) reduce or stop injecting and return to productive lives.” As part of a counseling and therapy program, medication maintenance such as methadone can help to reduce the risk of relapse and prevent further damage resulting from the addiction.
Additional maintenance medications include:
In cases in which medication maintenance is not used, detox will include time, support and medical intervention as necessary to help the patient overcome symptoms of withdrawal in preparation for the counseling and therapy. During detox, the user will no longer use Hydrocodone and withdrawal symptoms will gradually run their course. This process can take up to two weeks to complete but symptoms of withdrawal are generally reduced or minimal within 7 to 10 days.
Counseling & Therapy
According to Harvard Health, “treating addicts is not easy.” But treatment is possible and can happen! Behavioral therapy is commonly provided to those who are addicted to Hydrocodone. This involves helping the user to recognize triggers and learn changed responses to the things that make them want to use drugs. While counseling and therapy can include a wide array of psychotherapy, talk therapy, behavioral therapy and other forms of psychological help, most respond well to:
- motivational incentives
- motivational rewards
- Matrix model
Hydrocodone Addiction Recovery
Addiction is a chronic disease marked by periods of demise and relapse. Even in recovery you will be at risk for the potential complications that can arise when you are faced with triggers that may lead to relapse. While you must never forget that relapse is always a risk, you must move forward in your fight to get sober and to stay that way.
Hydrocodone addiction recovery will take time, but with each day of sobriety you will be one step closer to a lifetime of recovery and sobriety. If you do relapse, be sure to do your best to get back on the wagon as quickly as possible to ensure that the relapse has the smallest impact on your life. Don’t feel like you have ruined your life if your relapse, just do everything in your power to get back on track.
Remember, it may be difficult to get sober, you may face many challenges both in treatment and in recovery, but the rewards and benefits of living life without being burdened by hydrocodone are worth the struggle. Consider seeking professional help in order to improve your chances of making a life long recovery from this disease.