According to an October 2018 report issued by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, hydrocodone is the, “most frequently prescribed opiate in the United States with more than 136.7 million prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing products dispensed in 2013.”
Since then, the numbers have begun to taper off to under one hundred million, but hydrocodone addiction remains a nationwide epidemic. It’s a medication that is prescribed to people of all ages and has a very high potential for addiction.
Read on to learn more about the factors that might put you more at risk, the signs to look for in your loved ones if you think they might be addicted, the side effects addicts have to experience, and finally to learn about the ways to get help.
Risk Factors for Addiction
Hydrocodone is the name for the main ingredient in many powerful narcotic painkillers used to treat chronic or acute pain. Doctors prescribe it to be taken orally for intense pain, and some doctors will prescribe it long term.
Over time, the patients become addicted to the medication and can start to behave differently.
Unfortunately, hydrocodone addiction affects people from all income brackets, all races, all genders, all sexual orientations, all religions, and all walks of life.
It is a dark mark on all of society and needs to be treated as the illness that it is. Many people who face an addiction to this medication became physically addicted before they were mentally addicted.
The usual story is that they began getting prescriptions for their medication from a doctor, but then as their tolerance became too high, their doctor cut them off.
They then turn to the street for alternative sources of opioids like heroin.
Another risk factor for addiction is family history. If a child sees their parent facing an addiction, then they might be more likely to develop one themselves.
Brand Names of Hydrocodone
Since hydrocodone is just one ingredient in pain medication, it comes in different versions. Some of the most popular name brands on the market are Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, and Zohydro.
Vicodin tablets also have acetaminophen which is an over the counter painkiller. It is prescribed in four to six-hour intervals.
Norco uses a very similar formulation to Vicodin. It also has acetaminophen and hydrocodone. But its amount is the lowest available. Norco is a popular pill of choice for people new to recreational usage.
Lortab is yet another brand name. This one has made a name for itself on the street and in rap videos as one of the pills to get.
Zohydro is the most potent form of hydrocodone that is currently approved by the FDA. It is highly addictive and is only meant for individuals with severe pain that weren’t helped by anything else.
Zohydro has no acetaminophen in it at all making it have a much higher abuse potential. Most people know acetaminophen in high doses can damage the liver and this formulation helps them avoid that.
The Danger Behind the Prescription
Although hydrocodone is usually prescribed by a doctor, it can still be very dangerous. This is because even if you don’t actively crave more of the drug, your body will still begin to need it.
If you are on a prescription for hydrocodone for longer than a week, then you will have a more difficult time getting off of it and it can lead to addiction.
This is because your body begins to experience withdrawal symptoms and wants to put a stop to them.
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Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction
When someone begins to become addicted to hydrocodone, they will start to have more depressive symptoms and confusion. They will be incredibly drowsy and begin to withdrawal from the activities and social groups that they used to love.
If they are high at that moment, you may notice they have constricted pupils or shallow breathing.
When someone uses hydrocodone for a long time, their brain begins to respond to the drug and becomes reprogrammed for addiction.
The body becomes physically addicted and the mind becomes a slave to the body.
The longer they are left addicted, the further things escalate since their tolerance is always building forcing them to take higher and higher doses and need more medication to maintain their lifestyle.
They may begin engaging in risky behavior in order to meet their demand for the drug. You may see increases in criminal behavior, they may begin to steal, or they may begin to prostitute themselves or sell drugs to get enough money to feed their habit.
Side Effects of Hydrocodone
As for the immediate side effects of taking excessive amounts of hydrocodone, they could experience a lot of nausea and vomiting.
They may also have difficulty breathing, a slow heartbeat, and have the potential to have a seizure. They will become disoriented, possibly angry, have blurry vision, and may black out if they have combined the medication with alcohol.
But of course there are positive effects as well, that’s why people continue to take the medication. It gives you an immense feeling of relaxation, can ease all of your worries and leave you with a euphoric feeling of calmness and happiness.
Where to Go for Detox and Treatment
Now that you know how to recognize a hydrocodone addiction, it’s time for you to take a stand. Whether it be for yourself or a loved one, get help today.
Check out our options for a medically safe detox and take the first step towards sobriety.