Hydrocodone is the main ingredient in narcotic painkillers indicated to treat moderate to severe pain. It is usually administered orally on a short-term basis for pain related to injuries or after surgery. Sometimes it is used long-term to treat extreme conditions, such as cancer or palliative care.
Hydrocodone is an opioid and is comparable to drugs such as morphine, codeine, and oxycodone. Opioids are classified under the term “narcotic.” The definition of “narcotic” pertains to a substance that can produce narcosis, which is defined as a state of stupor, drowsiness, or unconsciousness induced by substances.
There are many versions of hydrocodone available in the U.S. All except Zohydro also contain acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.
What Is Hydrocodone and How Is It Used?
Hydrocodone relieves pain by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS). This action alters pain signals in the brain and can also induce feelings of pleasure and relaxation.
Those who misuse or abuse hydrocodone may crush their pills, snort or inject the remaining powder, or use it more often or in higher amounts than prescribed. Others obtain the drug illegally by stealing it from a loved one’s medicine cabinet or buying it illicitly on the black market.
People who take hydrocodone over an extended period, even as prescribed or in excessive doses, may start showing signs of dependence and addiction.
Hydrocodone Effects on the Body
When an individual uses hydrocodone, the pain receptors in the brain are obstructed, and dopamine, a chemical responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure, floods the brain.
Common side effects of hydrocodone include the following:
- Blurry vision
Addiction Signs and Symptoms
If you suspect that a person you love is abusing hydrocodone or is addicted, there are several signs and symptoms to look for that they may exhibit, including the following:
- Extreme mood swings
- Social isolation
- Deception or stealing
- Financial or legal issues
- Poor work/school performance
- Strained relationships
- Notable sedation
- Constricted pupils
- Nodding out of consciousness
- Apparent euphoria or elation
- Slowed respiration
As with any opioid, there may be unpleasant and severe withdrawal symptoms when an individual discontinues using the medication. Medical detox is recommended to keep patients as comfortable as possible throughout this challenging process and prevent relapse.
Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms may include the following:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Body aches and pains
- Insomnia/sleep disturbances
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
Signs and Symptoms of Hydrocodone Overdose
A hydrocodone overdose can occur in either of the following situations: (1) a person takes a more excessive dose than their body to process correctly or (2) use hydrocodone combined with other substances, including other prescription or illicit drugs or alcohol. In either case, several dangerous effects may be produced.
It is crucial to identify an overdose as early as possible to get immediate medical intervention and prevent brain damage or death.
Symptoms of a hydrocodone overdose can include the following:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slow or stopped breathing
- Pale or clammy, cold skin
- Bluish color to lips and nails
- Limpness in extremities
If a hydrocodone user is exhibiting the above symptoms, please call 911 immediately. Health providers and emergency technicians are the best equipped to provide the care needed to treat an opioid overdose and prevent irreversible damage or death.
Many hydrocodone drugs are combination products containing acetaminophen, which can cause extensive liver damage in high doses and result in long-term or permanent functional impairments.
Getting Treatment for Addiction
If hydrocodone abuse or addiction controls your life, you are urged to seek treatment as soon as possible. It may be necessary to undergo medical detox and enroll in a long-term inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment program.
Comprehensive treatment programs that include various evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, and group support, are considered by most experts to be the most effective. Just Believe Recovery offers these services, and our highly skilled addiction professionals facilitate them to those we treat with care and expertise.
We are dedicated to providing individuals with the tools and support they need to succeed at sobriety and maintain long-term physical and emotional health and wellness.