How Much Hydrocodone Can I Safely Take?
Hydrocodone is a combination of an opiate and acetaminophen, and is a narcotic pain reliever. Hydrocodone is used to treat pain after surgery, pain due to an accident or pain that is caused by a chronic condition. The acetaminophen in the drug helps increase the pain-relieving properties of the hydrocodone. The hydrocodone portion of the drug is highly addictive. Taking more of the drug than was prescribed, or taking the drug longer than prescribed, can lead to dependency, addiction and serious side effects from acetaminophen overdose. Using hydrocodone as directed by your doctor can help you manage pain, but misusing the drug can be dangerous.
The Dangers of Too Much Hydrocodone
Hydrocodone changes how the brain perceives pain. Because the brain no longer recognizes the proper signals for pain while on the medication, the body can quickly become dependent on the drug. Patients often crave the pain reliever before it’s time for the next dose, or they need to take more of the drug to get the same relief.
When this happens, a dependency on the drug has developed. No amount of hydrocodone is completely safe, but when used strictly according to dosing instructions, this drug can help those in pain find relief. However, if you or a loved one needs more of the drug, or if you can’t wait until the next dose, then call your doctor right away. She will let you know if you can safely increase your dosage, or if you need a new prescription for a different pain medication.
Things to Know When Taking Hydrocodone
When you are prescribed hydrocodone, it’s important to take the drug exactly as your doctor prescribes. Because hydrocodone contains acetaminophen, taking more than the prescribed amount for longer than directed can cause severe liver damage. One hydrocodone dose contains up to 750 milligrams of acetaminophen. Safe acetaminophen amounts for adults are 1,000 milligrams per dose and 4,000 milligrams per day. If you are taking the liquid form of the medication, use a dose-measuring device rather than a regular spoon.
It’s also important to drink six to eight full glasses of water each day while taking hydrocodone. This will keep your body well-hydrated and functioning normally. Never stop taking your pain medication without talking to your doctor first. Because people become dependent on hydrocodone fairly easily, stopping abruptly can cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor may choose to taper your medication slowly to avoid any complications.
Symptoms of Hydrocodone Overdose
If you or a loved one use hydrocodone to control pain, it’s important to know what an overdose looks like. Because hydrocodone is such an addictive and powerful drug, overdose can happen at any time during treatment, with or without a dependency or addiction. The following symptoms may indicate you’ve had too much of the medication. Seek emergency help immediately if you experience the following problems:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Narrowed pupils
- Dark urine
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Clammy skin
- Muscle weakness
- Slow heart rate
- Shallow breathing or no breathing
Hydrocodone Addiction Help
If you or a loved one suffers from hydrocodone abuse or addiction, call our toll-free helpline right away. We are here 24 hours a day to listen to your concerns and help you find the best recovery options for you or a friend or family member.