Is Hydrocodone Addiction Chronic?

A chronic disease or condition is one that is constant and has a long duration. The degree to which it is experienced may vary over time, as chronic diseases can be managed and controlled with specialized care. However, no chronic condition can be cured, so taking preventative measures or early action is essential for recovery to thrive. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains that chronic conditions should someone’s a primary concern, as these health issues are “the nation’s leading causes of death and disability.”

Is Addiction a Chronic Disease?

Any addiction is a chronic disease. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry” (“Definition of Addiction,” April 2011). ASAM goes on to explain that addicts cannot abstain from drugs consistently, so they often experience cycles of recovery and relapse. This cycle of returning to drugs and then avoiding them makes addiction a constant disease with varying levels of expression and activity. Prevention, early detection and treatment all offer a positive, long-term outcome, but addiction can be treated and managed at any stage. If it is not, the CDC’s concern about the mortality rates associated with chronic disease hold true. In fact, as ASAM explains, “without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”

How Prevalent Is Chronic Hydrocodone Use?

Chronic drug use is defined by the number of pills or amount of medication taken daily. According to “Identifying Predictors of Chronic Hydrocodone/APAP Use,” a presentation given at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine’s 2012 Annual Meeting, 3-11% of individuals with a prescription for hydrocodone use the drug chronically. The percentage of individuals misusing hydrocodone within the population at large is even higher, but the following problems are risk factors for chronic hydrocodone use:

  • Being male
  • Aged 40 or older
  • Living in the South Central or Pacific US
  • History of pain
  • Previous use of short-acting opioids
  • History of substance abuse

Addiction is a chronic condition no matter who gets it, but awareness of risk factors can help prevent the disease while limiting its effects. If you or a loved one uses hydrocodone medically or recreationally, then be aware of the likelihood of addiction, as well as the long-term effects of this disease. Call our helpline to talk with our admissions coordinators about your concerns, and you can find hope for a drug-free future. Addiction may be a chronic disease, but it is not a life sentence: it can be treated, managed and overcome with help. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to provide that help, so please do not hesitate to reach out right now.