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The Harsh Reality of Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone, often referred to by the brand name Vicodin, is a narcotic analgesic and antitussive (cough suppressant). Throughout the United States, the abuse of this powerful prescription painkiller has become increasingly widespread. For example, there were almost 130 million prescriptions for painkillers that included hydrocodone in just one year. The abundance of the drug made it easy for people to obtain the drug illegally, which has led to pervasive hydrocodone abuse.

How People Become Addicted

When taken as directed, it is possible for hydrocodone to offer people pain relief options. However, the drug is capable of changing the way the brain functions. The brain is rewired after long-term abuse in such a way that the user’s primary function is now to take more of the drug. As a result, it becomes almost impossible to recover without professional treatment.

Hydrocodone Addiction

Even though this is merely explained in layman terms, it means that the continued use of hydrocodone leads to the brain no longer producing positive feelings. This would mean that aside from the withdrawal symptoms, the user also has very little positive feelings in his or her life. This leads to continued use simply to avoid feeling bad rather than for the intense euphoric sensations.

What are the Signs of Addiction?

There are several different hydrocodone addiction symptoms that may indicate that hydrocodone addiction treatment is necessary for that particular individual. It is important to note that taking the drug as prescribed can still lead to physical indicators and even lead to dependence on the drug, but this is not the same as hydrocodone addiction.

The following are just some of the warning signs of an addiction to hydrocodone:

  • Continued use – The user may continue to want to use hydrocodone, even though the pain for which the narcotic was originally prescribed has since subsided.
  • Mood and behavior changes – Oftentimes people who abuse the drug may become anxious, agitated, volatile and even hostile. This is especially true if they are experiencing withdrawal from hydrocodone or are just coming down off a previous high.
  • Secretive or deceitful behavior – Most people that struggle with a hydrocodone addiction do not want family members, friends, medical professionals or coworkers to know about it. This means that they will hide the behavior as best they can. This deceitful behavior comes in the form of buying the narcotic off the street or having multiple prescriptions from more than one doctor.
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms – It is quite common to see hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms in people who are unable to get their ‘fix’. This may include insomnia, joint and muscle aches, and a variety of other problems that will be discussed later.
  • An increased tolerance – After prolonged use, people who take the narcotic will notice that they have developed a tolerance. This means that the body has become accustomed to having the drug in its system. In order to achieve the same desired effect as before, more pills will be needed. What might have previously led to euphoric bliss is now barely enough to avoid hydrocodone withdrawal in long-term users.
  • Withdrawing from people – It is true that people who struggle with hydrocodone addiction become increasingly withdrawn. They tend to surround themselves with likeminded people who also abuse the drug. People who will not judge them for their continued use.
  • Financial and legal issues – These are problems associated with acquiring or buying more and more pills to continue their use.
  • Circulatory collapse

Physical Signs

There are also physical hydrocodone addiction symptoms. A few of these include:

  • Sluggishness
  • Restlessness
  • Itching
  • Dry throat
  • Mental cloudiness
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Constipation

Identifying the Withdrawal Symptoms

When used for a prolonged period of time, a user may experience hydrocodone withdrawal if they no longer consume the narcotic. One of the reasons that hydrocodone rehab is important is because decreasing the ingested dosage too rapidly or if someone stops taking hydrocodone too abruptly, it may lead to serious hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal range from mild to severe. Depending on how long the user has been taking the drug and how often they have abused the drug, the symptoms of withdrawal from hydrocodone can start mere hours after the user last ingested the narcotic.

When ceasing use, long-term hydrocodone users may experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Yawning and sleeplessness
  • Dilated pupils

One of the reasons that it can be difficult for someone to discontinue the use of hydrocodone is because they know that a single dose of the drug would help relieve the withdrawal symptoms. This is one of the reasons that people who enroll in long-term hydrocodone addiction treatment have a better chance of succeeding in their recovery goals. Patients in these facilities have professionals around them who can offer medical assistance when needed and who might be able to offer support throughout the difficult withdrawal process

Overdose Facts

One of the reasons that so many people die because of prescription opioid abuse is because every dosage can lead to an accidental overdose. This is another reason it is vitally important to seek out hydrocodone addiction treatment.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is imperative that you call 9-1-1 immediately to get help:

  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure
  • Stomach spasms
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Bluish tinge to the skin, fingernails and lips
  • Limp muscles
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme drowsiness

Seeking Treatment

It is obvious that the severe withdrawal symptoms and euphoric effects of hydrocodone abuse make it difficult for people to stop using alone. It is imperative for someone trying to overcome an addiction to hydrocodone first undergo hydrocodone detox. The detoxification process results in all the lingering elements of the drug being cleansed from the system. This means that the immediate physical cravings are alleviated and it allows the user to focus on recovery.

If you or someone that you care about struggles with hydrocodone addiction, it is important to enroll in professional hydrocodone rehab. This is about more than just ridding the body of residue toxins. It is important to understand the mental aspect of addiction, what triggered hydrocodone abuse in the first place. What was the underlying factor that led to this decision? If you feel that you or someone close to you is struggling with an addiction to hydrocodone, remember that it is vitally important to get help now. Statistics show that those who do not seek treatment are incapable of making long-term changes.