Hydrocodone, commonly known by the brand name Vicodin, is one of the most commonly prescribed opioid medications in the United States. While hydrocodone is effective against severe pain that is not helped by milder medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, it also has the potential to be addictive, especially with long-term use.
How Hydrocodone Works
One main reason for the addictive nature of hydrocodone is that it produces a sense of euphoria or a high when it is taken. As the drug is taken over a longer period of time, you could gradually develop a tolerance to its effects, meaning that more must be taken in order to get the same high. Eventually, physical dependence and even addiction can develop.
Besides binding to receptors in the brain and blocking their ability to sense pain, hydrocodone can also produce feelings of relaxation, drowsiness and numbness in some people. For this reason, those experiencing anxiety may be drawn to the use of the drug.
One of the main hydrocodone side effects is that it slows down your body’s systems. Some people experience breathing problems when taking hydrocodone. Breathing problems are more likely if you have another chronic disease that has weakened your body or if you have had asthma or other breathing problems in the past. Constipation and other gastrointestinal effects are also common because of the way hydrocodone and other opioids slow down your system.
Misuse of Hydrocodone
It is difficult to know whether you will become addicted to hydrocodone, but you will be more likely to misuse it if you misuse alcohol, misuse street drugs, misuse prescription medications, or have depression or another mental illness. Previous substance misuse makes you more prone to future hydrocodone addiction, and there are also genetic factors that could make addiction more likely.
When physical dependence occurs, it can become difficult to stop using hydrocodone because of withdrawal symptoms including intense cravings, depression and anxiety, nausea, vomiting, sweating, muscle aches, rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. Withdrawal symptoms can be more severe if the dosage of hydrocodone was high.
Another risk of misusing hydrocodone is overdose, which has become a major problem all over the United States. Overdose is more likely when you take hydrocodone more frequently than the prescribed dosage and when it is mixed with other drugs or alcohol. Crushing and snorting the pills, which is sometimes done to get a stronger high as tolerance develops, can also increase overdose risks.
Approximately 42,249 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016. Hydrocodone use does not account for all of these overdose deaths, but it is an opioid that can cause overdoses when misused. If you or any of your loved ones need help to overcome hydrocodone addiction, contact The Recovery Village Palmer Lake today to discuss treatment options.