The US Drug Enforcement Administration estimates 11.5 million people in the US age 12 or older misused hydrocodone in 2016. The growing opioid epidemic is of everyone’s concern.
Hydrocodone and other prescription painkillers are notorious for being highly addictive. This addictive nature could lead some to destroy their own lives.
If you or a loved one exhibit signs of addiction, it may be time to take action. What should you look out for? What should you expect?
Hydrocodone is an effective painkiller, but it’s known to be habit-forming. Tackling an addiction is never easy. Here’s everything you need to know about hydrocodone addiction.
Hydrocodone Addiction Statistics
Due to risks of abuse, certain healthcare providers have reduced the number of hydrocodone prescriptions since 2011.
Opioid-related overdoses have remained in a steady incline since 2000. The most commonly abused opioids are those natural and semisynthetic medications. These include hydrocodone.
One of the most vulnerable groups to opioid abuse and addiction are those in their teen years. This may not come as a surprise.
Teen suicide rates are on the rise, especially among teenage girls.
Teen opioid abuse has been on a decline for a number of years. That being said, opioid use is still a problem for teens and young adults. Hydrocodone is much more accessible than other opioids, like oxycodone, which makes it more likely to be abused.
It’s much cheaper per pill, and teens are more likely to mix prescription opioids with other drugs. One study found 7 of 10 non-medical teen opioid users combine these medications with alcohol or other drugs.
The most commonly co-ingested substances were marijuana and alcohol.
Your teenagers are likely to come across people who experiment with different drugs. Discuss the possible consequences of opioid abuse. If you’re worried, look for dramatic changes in behavior.
Signs of Hydrocodone Abuse
Addiction can occur even in those who take the medication as directed. It’s super important for a doctor to monitor your use.
Abuse and addiction often begin with a prescription. This can make it difficult to recognize an opioid addiction before it becomes a huge problem.
Abuse may begin with taking more than the directed dose. A patient may take the medications longer than the designated timeframe.
Some people may find the euphoria associated with opioids to be desirable. This can be problematic. Some of the effects of opioid use include the following:
- Reduced anxiety
- A relaxed feeling
- Elevated mood or happiness
People who abuse hydrocodone or other opioids may take more than the directed amount. This produces the above effects more quickly. This can be dangerous.
Taking more than the directed dose can quickly lead to an overdose.
Am I Addicted?
Abuse will often precipitate addiction. When exactly does abuse become an addiction? This distinction can be difficult to identify.
Addiction is when the user suffers physical (and mental) symptoms when they stop taking the medication. The user may believe they need the drug to perform daily tasks.
They’ll continue to use the drug despite any negative impact on their life. Those who develop a hydrocodone dependence may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Draining money quickly
- Dramatic mood swings
- Loss of interest in former hobbies and activities
- Social isolation/spending time away from others
- Refilling prescriptions more often or beyond the prescription timeframe
- Visiting more than one doctor to acquire a prescription
- Exaggerating pain or creating imaginary injuries
- Focusing on obtaining more hydrocodone
Someone may quickly develop a dependence on hydrocodone. They’ll experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and dangerous.
Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, anxiety, sweating, convulsing, and more.
If you or a loved one is a victim of hydrocodone addiction, you may need to seek treatment. Treating an addiction can be a long, difficult process.
First, you’ll need to decide if the habit is an addiction. You’ll need to evaluate symptoms and whether or not you desire to cut out the habit.
Treating an opioid addiction often requires medical oversight. You should seek professional help to monitor the detoxification process.
If you’re worried about a loved one, you may even need to stage an intervention. This can be an intimidating process, and you may need professional help. A successful intervention is meant to help someone.
An intervention should always be done in the best interest of the addict. This is not the time to be selfish.
Dangers of Hydrocodone Abuse
Hydrocodone is an opium-derived painkiller often prescribed to those with moderate to severe pain.
It’s most often combined with acetaminophen or ibuprofen to form the brand name medications Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco. However, other products may be pure hydrocodone.
Hydrocodone is similar to other prescription opioids, such as oxycodone and morphine. All these drugs have a high potential for abuse.
The brain contains certain opioid receptors. Drugs like hydrocodone bind to these receptors and block pain signals.
This reduces feelings of pain and can cause feelings of euphoria.
Hydrocodone comes in a pill. The prescribing doctor should give clear dosing instructions.
If you or a loved one has been prescribed hydrocodone, you should follow instructions carefully. Sometimes, people may build a tolerance to hydrocodone. They may begin using more of it more often.
Those who abuse hydrocodone may crush up the pills and snort or inject the product.
Over time, opioid use can lead to a host of negative health effects. These include the following:
- Cardiovascular problems
- Drastic changes in behavior
- Low self-esteem
- Anger and rage
- Weakened immune system
- Liver and kidney failure
- Overdose and even death
Opioid overdose is fairly common among opioid abusers.
Seek Treatment Today
Hydrocodone addiction is a nasty beast. Even those with a prescription can find themselves in a vicious addiction cycle.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, you should seek professional help. The rehabilitation process can be long and difficult.
You’ll need all the love and support you can get.
Never make a loved one feel unloved or unwanted.
If you’re reading this, it may be because you or a loved one is struggling in the present. Take the time to check out our painkiller rehabilitation programs.