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Hydrocodone Addiction (Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)

COMMON BRAND(S): Vicodin®, Norco®, Zohydro®, and others
GENERIC NAME(S): Hydrocodone or dihydrocodeinone

When you go through illness, surgery or other conditions that leave you in deep and debilitating pain, doctors have ways to bring you comfort and relief. Such treatments may include electrical stimulation, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and prescription pain relievers. Some conditions requiring extensive pain treatment includes shingles, HIV, cancer, arthritis, cramping, broken bones and the deep discomfort that comes from surgery recovery. One of the most recommended prescription medications for the relief of pain is called Hydrocodone. Dosage and length of use depend on the severity of the pain and potential side effects.

What is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a prescription pain reliever that treats moderate to severe pain. Opioids are pain relievers under the classification of hydrocodone medications also branded as narcotics. Hydrocodone should only be taken as prescribed by your doctor, avoiding all alcohol while being treated.

Side Effects from Hydrocodone Use

Liver conditions while on Hydrocodone will result in dark urine. Other side effects may include persistent vomiting and continual nausea, abdominal and stomach distress, extreme fatigue and jaundice of the skin and eyes. If taken as prescribed, Hydrocodone will provide short-term pain relief but can become habit-forming with dangerous side effects. Other common short-term side effects reported from the use of Hydrocodone include:

  • Agranulocytosis
  • Apnea
  • Anxiety
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Dysphoria
  • Skin Rashes
  • Mental disruption
  • Sedation
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Loss of appetite

Long-term side effects can lead to an addiction to Hydrocodone along with respiratory distress, urinary retention, itchiness, coma, hearing loss and sometimes fatality and death. Many individuals in pain increase their dosage without medical authorization to feel better, not considering the negative consequences and risk of overdose. Any ill side effects should be reported to your physician immediately or go to your local hospital emergency room.

What Medications are Similar to Hydrocodone?

There are other pain relievers in the same class as Hydrocodone containing the combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Such medications are:

  • Vicodin which is one of the Opioids for the relief of moderate to severe pain. This is also a habit-forming addictive narcotic if abused and misused.
  • Lorcet pain relief medication is another narcotic for moderate to severe pain and discomfort by binding opioid receptors of the spinal cord and in the brain.
  • Lortab, as with the others is an opioid narcotic for the relief of reasonable to severe pain and discomfort. All of these Opioids are at risk of becoming addictive if not used strictly as prescribed.

The Risks of Hydrocodone Becoming Addictive

Hydrocodone is not always used as prescribed and some recreational individuals abuse the medication for the euphoric state it provides. Hydrocodone is a narcotic that can easily be mistreated. This opiate medication works within the brain and central nervous system and leads to a need for more to feel better and happy. This grows into a dependency of the Hydrocodone. The brain is altered because of the presence of the pain killer while the body also ceases to produce natural body painkillers known as endorphins since it now relies on the opiate.

A chemical dependency of the drug redefines what the body considers as aches, soreness, and swelling, requiring more of the opioid to operate. Hydrocodone does not only create a physical but also a psychological dependency for the body to work according to the needs of the addict. Tolerance of the body continues to escalate while on Hydrocodone and leads to additional doses and addiction. Most doctors monitor its use in patients to ensure this does not happen, but some individuals are crafty in ways to acquire more of the drug without medical supervision.

Hydrocodone Addiction Signs

If you know someone that is using the Hydrocodone with the possibility of addictive behavior, there are signs and symptoms that the medication is being abused. Overuse and overdose of Hydrocodone can be life-threatening and fatal, needing immediate medical attention. Be aware of such warning signs as:


  • An increase in dosage unauthorized by the doctor
  • Mixing the Hydrocodone with other drugs like cocaine and heroin
  • Focus and obsession with getting more of the Opioids
  • Taking the medication for fun without prescription
  • Visiting multiple doctors to obtain additional prescriptions for Hydrocodone
  • An overabundant craving for the drug without regard to negative consequences
  • Withdrawing from family due to the focus on getting more of the drugs
  • Sudden difficulties with work or school
  • Has strained relationships with friends
  • Discontinues normal activities of interest
  • Signs of taking the medication inappropriately such as crushing them to get a quicker “high.”
  • Shows medical signs like sweating, the chills, stomach pain, skin jaundice or any other sudden medical issues


When Hydrocodone suddenly becomes habit-forming and addictive, it is challenging to quit taking it and may need medical and therapeutic intervention to find relief of any pain and addictive behavior. Take all symptoms and indications of abuse severe and seek the help you need for yourself or that of a loved one at risk for an addiction to Hydrocodone.

Treatment and Rehab for Hydrocodone Addiction

While being treated for a Hydrocodone addiction, it is important to realize it is not only a physical but mental problem that needs to be addressed. The drug can have devastating effects on the brain. Treatment options will involve a detoxification program, therapy, and counseling. The object of the whole process is to address the reasons that led to the overuse of Hydrocodone through education and techniques on how to live a drug-free life.

Treatment options vary and usually begin with detoxification to get your life back on track and rid the body of harmful toxins related to the use of Hydrocodone. When going through detox, you will be under medical supervision due to possible Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal from Hydrocodone can differ according to the severity of the addiction and may be physical or emotional indications such as:

  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Social isolation as previously mentioned
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweats or chills
  • Rapid heart palpitations
  • Poor concentration
  • Muscle tension
  • Depression
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma or grand mal seizures
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)
  • Hallucinations

Going through a detox program as part of the treatment and rehab process is the most challenging aspect in healing from addiction, including the habit-forming Hydrocodone. The method of detox typically involves tapering the use of the addictive drug and slowly reducing its intake. Sometimes medical therapy is necessary as a way to ease the severity of the symptoms and stop the abuse.

All treatment plans include a detox program, whether it is done within rehab or going to a special detox facility before the rehabilitation center. Detox addresses the physical effects of the drug while a rehabilitation program progresses with therapy and counseling to instill other values and a life without drugs. You may engage in self-esteem classes, techniques on how to live without drugs, family therapy and support groups along with behavior modification. Treatment and Rehabilitation Options include:

  • Inpatient Hydrocodone rehab that provides fully monitored and structured treatment geared around the individual’s needs and severity of the addiction. Care is both medical and psychological and involves cognitive strategies for a long-term drug-free life, help to reduce and rid your cravings and a full recovery from withdrawal. Inpatient rehab centers ensure a life without the addictive drug while removing all possibilities for a relapse. You are educated with coping techniques to manage your health, stresses in life, finances and other tensions along with a return to work or school. You will have to work through any underlying issues such as depression and anxiety that led you to a life of addictive drugs like Hydrocodone to cope. You must realize the impact that this drug has caused you in your day-to-day life. The next step is to focus on techniques geared toward living a Hydrocodone-free lifestyle once returning to your home and society. Inpatient care also includes regular therapy and counseling sessions, individually, in groups and often with family. The rehab is geared towards preparing you for life after addiction.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation begins with a detoxification process followed by structured outpatient therapy and counseling sessions. Such meetings will be on specified days weekly at a medical or clinical facility to meet with qualified addiction professionals. Outpatient rehab can be a substitute choice to replace an inpatient treatment facility or as an aftercare treatment beyond intensive healing in a facility to stay clean, drug-free and avoid relapse. Outpatient allows you to carry on with regular day-to-day activities like school, work, hobbies, and other fun behaviors while still attending schedule meetings until you and your professional decide you are no longer in danger of returning to a life with drug dependency. For long-term success, it is important to involve family and close friends to have a good support system. Outpatient also involves therapy to build up your self-esteem, giving you the will to succeed for you. Some behavior modification methods in outpatient follow the same curriculum as an inpatient through some cognitive therapy to recognize and acknowledge your addiction, avoid all situations that can lead you down the darkened path and how to cope with difficulties without returning to drug and substance abuse.
  • Sober living facilities are not just for those with alcohol addictions but are geared to help individuals with a drug addiction problem. Sober living facilities allow you to live your normal life with work, school, and other activities while returning to the center at day’s end. How long you engage in a sober living facility depends on your particular healing progress and the chance for a relapse.
  • Aftercare after rehab treatment for Hydrocodone addiction helps the abuser to live a life after drugs. There is a multitude of options for aftercare treatment aside from outpatient care, which is as intensive as the inpatient option. Options for aftercare include private and group counseling sessions at least once a week as determined by your addiction professional along with support groups. You may need to meet with your psychiatrist at least monthly or every couple of months, depending on your progress. An additional option may include having a mentor that you can turn to during difficult times for reinforcement. Most often your rehab treatment facility will provide you with a 24-hour helpline to call in times of weakness.

Life can be difficult for the healthiest of souls. Never lose hope if you seem to have a relapse; call your doctor and get yourself backtrack. Allow your loved ones to engage in your life and help you to a happier existence. Just remember, when taking drugs such as Hydrocodone for the relief of substantial and severe pain, take only as directed without the fear of becoming addicted to a substance that can cause you more harm than good when misused.

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