Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction to Watch Out For


Opioid abuse (including hydrocodone addiction) negatively impacts people’s lives and is responsible for many drug overdoses. In this article, we will discuss this, along with:

  • The physical signs of hydrocodone addiction
  • The behavioral symptoms of hydrocodone addiction
  • How to treat the addiction
  • Hydrocodone overdose, and warning signs.

Let’s get into it.

What Is A Hydrocodone Addiction/Abuse?

Hydrocodone is an opioid that is commonly prescribed as a painkiller for both severe pain and chronic pain conditions.

It is sold under the brand name Vicodin and works by blocking pain signals.

Like all opioids, hydrocodone is addictive and can result in Opioid Use Disorder – commonly known as opioid addiction.

Hydrocodone abuse occurs when people start taking the medications outside of what they are prescribed.

This may include taking doses exceeding the amount that is prescribed, or taking the medication to produce euphoric effects, rather than to control pain.

Hydrocodone addiction falls under the category of substance use disorder.

It occurs when someone begins to become dependent on the medication, and cannot limit their use even while intending to, and despite the negative consequences it may have on their life.  

Hydrocodone abuse is dangerous and can result in addiction. People who become dependent on the medication and take increasingly larger doses risk opioid overdose (and even death) as a result.

The Signs of a Hydrocodone Addiction

It is important to know the signs of hydrocodone addiction, in order to know when to seek professional help for you, or a loved one.

Addiction treatment is often most successful when started early – so if you are concerned, it is never too early to ask for help.

Physical Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction

Increased tolerance to the drug

People who have developed physical dependence on this medication will develop an increased tolerance.

This means that they will need larger quantities of the medication in order to have the same effect. This may mean they take multiple doses and seek stronger medication in order to achieve the desired effects.

If they do not take larger amounts of the medication, they may start to experience opioid withdrawal symptoms and may need another pain reliever

Withdrawal symptoms when not using

One of the key signs of opioid addiction is withdrawal symptoms which are experienced when the medication is reduced or stopped.

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can include hot and cold flushes, clammy skin, muscle aches, flu-like symptoms, irritability, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, and drug cravings

Changes in sleep patterns

Most people with hydrocodone addictions will have problems sleeping.

This may include irregular sleep patterns and insomnia. However, some people with Vicodin addictions will have normal sleep

Physical health issues (constipation, nausea)

Opioids slow down the emptying of your stomach, and can therefore result in constipation. Long-term effects of opioid use can also result in nausea and a reduced appetite.

Behavioral Signs of a Hydrocodone Addiction

Frequent requests for prescription refills

Hydrocodone is one of the prescription opioids which is commonly used to control pain.

One of the telltale signs of addiction is frequent visits to treatment centers in order to be prescribed larger amounts of medication.

This may look like lying about losing medication, lying about pain symptoms, and trying to buy the medication on the black market

Doctor shopping or seeking multiple prescriptions

Doctor shopping refers to visiting multiple doctors (some of whom may have the reputation of prescribing large amounts of the medication) in order to receive multiple prescriptions of the medication to use.

This may also result in trying to obtain recreational drugs to mimic the effects of opioids and fulfill opioid cravings.

Neglecting responsibilities and obligations

Hydrocodone abuse often results in negative consequences such as neglecting everyday commitments to yourself, and others.

It may impair relationships, work obligations, and family commitments

Changes in social circles and activities

Like most substance use disorders, there is often a change in social circles.

People who experience addiction may seek the company of people who have the same addiction or can help fulfill their addictive needs.

People with opioid addiction will often distance themselves from people who do not support their addiction.

Hydrocodone Overdose Symptoms

Hydrocodone, like other opioid drugs, can be dangerous if taken in large amounts.

Opioids cause respiratory depression, meaning they cause dangerously slow breathing to a potentially lethal level.

It can also cause a decrease in blood pressure which can cause falls and increase the risk of head injuries.

The risk of overdose is high, especially when combined with other CNS depressants such as alcohol, benzos, and sleeping pills.

Some common symptoms of hydrocodone overdose according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services includes:

  • Clammy skin
  • Extreme paleness in the skin
  • Limp body
  • A purple hue seen on the fingernails
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing difficulty, irregular breathing, or a very slow breathing rate
  • Slow heartbeat, or no heartbeat heartbeat
  • Confusion, extreme drowsiness, or unconsciousness
  • Pinpoint pupils (very constricted pupils).

How To Treat and Overcome Hydrocodone Addiction

Recognizing the need for professional help

One of the first steps to overcoming hydrocodone addiction is to identify the need for help.

Hydrocodone dependence is common, and with the right help can be overcome and managed.

Medical professionals can help treat Opioid Use Disorder in people who have become addicted to the medication.

They can also help manage underlying conditions that may be feeding into the addiction, such as pain conditions and mental disorders

Seeking medical assistance for detoxification

Medical detox is often important for people who suffer from Opioid Use Disorder for prolonged periods of time.

There are numerous treatment options available for people who seek help for their hydrocodone addiction.

There are medications available that can help manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms from the medication (such as buprenorphine), also known as medication-assisted treatment.

Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs

Both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs can be great tools to use to overcome hydrocodone dependence.

These specialist programs can help from all stages, from detox to planning for a future of sobriety.

Most centers can prescribe medications to help manage pain, with a lower potential for misuse to support sobriety.

Residential treatment centers also offer live-in options for people with severe addictions.

Psychological counseling and support groups

One of the best treatments for hydrocodone addiction includes psychological support.

This form of treatment can help educate people on the effects of opioid addiction and can help treat underlying medical conditions including mental health conditions, which feed into the addiction.

Final Thoughts

Hydrocodone abuse and addiction fall under the category of Opioid Use Disorder.

Like all opioids, prescription painkillers such as this one have a high potential for abuse.

It is important to recognize the physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms of addiction in order to know when to seek help.

There are many effective treatments for hydrocodone abuse. These include medical detox, replacement of opioid medications, pain management, and treatment of underlying mental health disorders which may be worsening the addiction.


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