Hydrocodone Addiction & Abuse

Hydrocodone is one of the most commonly prescribed pain-relief drugs in the United States. While the substance is known for its success in fulfilling this primary medical function, many fail to recognize its bundled-in detrimental effects and addictive qualities.

Hydrocodone is both widely abused and potently addictive. The readily available and consumable nature of the drug makes it highly conducive for dependency formation. It is imperative that you understand the characteristics of hydrocodone, as well as the consequences of prolonged abuse, so you can begin to fight the addiction that you or a loved one may be enduring.

Basic Characteristics and Application

Like the vast majority of the opiate family, hydrocodone is derived from the latex of the opium poppy plant. Continuing its familial similarities, its most common purpose is medically-prescribed pain relief.

Unlike most opiates, however, hydrocodone has far less of a connotation with recreational abuse and street sale. It is a widely accepted and prescribed drug in the medical field.

Pain relief isn’t the only practical purpose that hydrocodone fulfills. The drug has miraculous cough-relieving properties. This latent ability leads to not only its prescription in cases of cough-ridden diseases, but everyday use as an ingredient in liquid cough medicine.

Methods of Consumption

Unlike most medically-prescribed opiates, hydrocodone doesn’t have consumption-method variety. Oral ingestion is the only means by which the substance can enter the human body. In turn, the drug typically comes in the form of a pill or tablet.

Hydrocodone pills are differentiated by the timeliness of their effect. This distinguishment is signified by two classifications, immediate release and controlled release. Immediate release hydrocodone often comes bundled with paracetamol, ibuprofen, and aspirin, while doctors typically administer controlled release hydrocodone in the form of Hysingla ER or Zohydro ER.

As discussed, hydrocodone is not only a stand-alone tablet, but a common ingredient in liquid cough medicine. Despite this change in matter state, the drug still must be consumed orally.


The history of hydrocodone is not as complicated as that of most opiates. Its origin can be traced only as far back as early 20th century Europe. German scientists Carl Mannich and Helene Löwenheim successfully synthesized the drug in 1920. The substance was not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration until 1943.

For the remainder of the 20th century, hydrocodone history remained relatively static. Prescription and administration of the drug thrived across the United States for over 60 years with practically no interruption.

With the new millennium came the drug’s return to the historical limelight. Due to a widespread increase in hydrocodone abuse, the United States government changed the drug’s status from Schedule III to II in 2014. Medical administration was still allowed, but this status-change legally deemed the substance more prone to abuse and addiction. Hydrocodone remains a Schedule II drug to this day.

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Side Effects

Despite its renowned pain relieving and cough suppressing abilities, hydrocodone is riddled with negative side effects. Many users of the drug experience nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, lethargy, constipation, and intense anxiety. The catalog of potentially harmful side-effects only expands from there.

By their very nature, these side-effects aren’t guaranteed to plague all users of the drug. However, with the development of addiction (and subsequent withdrawal) these symptoms are practically inevitable.

Addiction, Withdrawal and Overdose

Contrary to popular perception, hydrocodone has a nearly identical addictive potency to morphine. Therefore, both medical professionals and potential users should not overlook this detrimental property. The number of hydrocodone abusers in the United States has nearly doubled over the past 17 years. As is the case with most opiates, once your body develops a reliance on the substance, it loses the ability to function without it.

With the onset of addiction comes the emergence of devastating withdrawal symptoms between dosage sessions. These symptoms are enhanced versions of the side-effects previously discussed. Nearly all of these indicators develop, but this time with increased potency. Nausea, vomiting, anxiety- it’s all back, but with a ravaging ferocity. The time between dosages is in positive correlation with symptom intensity, leading to debilitating withdrawal periods.

As is the case with most addictions, hydrocodone reliance will cataclysmically impact your social life. As your desperation for your next dose increases, so does the amount of harm and alienation you place on your friends and family. Your sense of priority will re-center around combating withdrawal, leaving stable relationships, romantic or otherwise, impossible to maintain. Increased distancing from your loved ones will see the onset of intense depression.

Over-abuse of hydrocodone can lead to deadly overdose. Although potentially medically stoppable, hydrocodone overdose often results in death. Some early signs of overdose to keep your eyes peeled for are sudden loss of consciousness, abnormally excessive pupil dilation, clamminess, breathing difficulty, and a delayed heartbeat.

Signs of Addiction

If you suspect someone you care about might be addicted to hydrocodone, keep your eyes peeled for the following telltale signifiers:

  • Seemingly random mood swings
  • Buildup of pill bottles around the home or place of employment
  • Increased frequency of doctor’s visits, especially to multiple different offices
  • Putting more value on the drug than their hobbies or spending time with loved ones
  • Frequently running out of money
  • Isolationist behavior

These are just a few of the plethora of hydrocodone addiction signifiers. If you feel any of the above accurately represents yourself or a loved one, it is imperative that you seek help as soon as possible.

It's Time...

If you or a loved one is involved in hydrocodone addiction, you may feel there is nowhere left to turn. This is simply not the case. Riverside Recovery of Tampa is there to rejuvenate your life with positivity. Our renowned staff and state-of-the-art resources will effortlessly ease you back into a productive lifestyle. For more information, we encourage you to call (833) 875-7701. Don’t let hydrocodone dependence hold you back from living your life; contact Riverside Recovery today.

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