Hydrocodone is an opioid narcotic. Some brand names for the drug are Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, and Vicodin. Like other opioid-based medications, there is a risk of addiction and physical dependence. Even if an individual isn’t addicted, stopping the drug suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms due to dependence.
Opioids affect the pleasure center of the brain. Hydrocodone produces extra dopamine neurotransmitters, which is essential for feeling happy emotions. The longer an individual uses hydrocodone containing medications, the more dependent the brain becomes on the opioid to create feelings of pleasure and euphoria. As this happens, a sudden stop to the drug leaves frequent users experiencing withdrawal symptoms as close as six hours after halting use.
Because opiates act as central nervous system (CNS) depressants, immediately halting the use of the drug will often lead to an opposite physical reaction. Rather than depress internal systems, the absence of the drug will cause the body to experience a series of spikes in blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, among other symptoms.
The side effects of hydrocodone withdrawal include but are not limited to:
These symptoms commonly last from five to seven days after last use. However, this can change depending on how long and how frequently one uses hydrocodone; sometimes, symptoms may persist over longer periods and last up to a month.
It is impossible to tell how severe each person’s symptoms will be. Some symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts or high blood pressure, are life-threatening. For these reasons, medical professionals should oversee hydrocodone withdrawal. This especially applies to anyone who is thinking of quitting “cold turkey” or completely cutting themselves off from using hydrocodone.
Withdrawing from hydrocodone containing medications is a risky process without medical supervision. Therefore, medically overseen detoxification is highly recommended, either in an in- or outpatient setting.
For about the first week of detox, an individuals’ vital signs and other symptoms will be monitored. It is especially important to check blood pressure, heart rate, and any other physical symptoms that could lead to severe complications. Some of these symptoms are unpredictable in how they may worsen, so medical intervention will help someone recover more efficiently.
Because quitting “cold turkey,” even in the presence of medical professionals, can be dangerous, many medical detox procedures will slowly taper off the use of the drug. This is done by decreasing the amount of hydrocodone that a person takes until they reach a point where they are no longer dependent on the drug.
Additionally, many medications are approved to be used during hydrocodone withdrawal. When administered by a doctor, medications like Subutex, Suboxone, Methadone, and Vivitrol can block opioid receptors in the body and/or minimize the effects of withdrawal in patients.
While serious hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms should only need to be monitored for about a week during detox, this time is the beginning of the process of recovery for those who are addicted.
From detox for hydrocodone, many individuals elect to enter a drug/alcohol treatment program. This can be in- or outpatient depending on one’s specific addiction. The healing process is different for everyone, but studies have shown that treatment following detox increases someone’s chance of remaining drug-free and recovering.
Do you believe that you or a loved one are suffering from a substance use disorder? Talk to our experienced addiction professionals by calling: (844) 978-1524