Doctors: Is Your Patient Addicted to Hydrocodone?

Doctors: Is Your Patient Addicted to Hydrocodone?

Because hydrocodone is an active ingredient in many different types of prescription pain relievers and cough suppressants, the rate of its use, and consequently abuse, has grown tremendously in recent years.

The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency has revealed that hydrocodone is one of the most recreationally abused prescription drug in America. For this reason, it is extremely important for doctors to know how to identify a patient who has become addicted to the substance or is using hydrocodone for recreational use.

Prescription and Recreational Hydrocodone Use

In 1998, there were over 56 million new prescriptions for hydrocodone. In 2000, there were over 89 million. In the last ten years, emergency room incidents related to hydrocodone have risen almost 500%.

Hydrocodone is an orally active narcotic analgesic prescribed medically as a strong cough suppressant. The drug is also mixed with a number of other substances to create strong painkillers such as Vicodin and Lortab. In the world of recreational drug use, hydrocodone produces feelings of euphoria when taken in higher than prescription doses. Its potency roughly falls between that morphine and methadone, and the fact that it is relatively easy to locate makes it a popular drug. A hydrocodone addiction can take place in as little as one week depending on frequency and size of the doses.

Doctor Shopping for Hydrocodone

“Doctor shopping” refers to the act of seeking counsel from multiple medical professionals in the hopes of obtaining multiple prescriptions. Individuals may “doctor shop” to obtain hydrocodone to feed their own habit or may be planning on selling the extra prescription medication. Both scenarios are dangerous and illegal.

General Signs & Symptoms of Hydrocodone Addiction

An addiction to hydrocodone in your patients can be difficult to diagnose, because some warning signs for an addiction will mimic the legitimate symptoms for which hydrocodone is prescribed.  The patients’ history should always be considered when writing a new prescription, or refilling an old one, for a substance containing hydrocodone.

Hydrocodone addiction will vary depending on the individual, but some general symptoms associated with hydrocodone abuse and addiction include the following:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Abnormal agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy
  • Urinary tract disorder

An abnormal preoccupation with obtaining the drug and the tendency to run through prescriptions too quickly should also be a cause for concern.

What to Do about Patient Hydrocodone Abuse

If you are a medical professional and have questions regarding hydrocodone abuse and addiction, call our toll-free helpline. Experienced professionals can provide information and recovery resources for you and your patients. We are available 24 hours a day, so there is no wrong time to call.