The Progression of Hydrocodone Addiction

The Progression of Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone is the primary ingredient in a large number of prescription painkillers, including the following:

  • Vicodin
  • Lorcet
  • Lortab
  • Hycodan
  • Norco

Hydrocodone is an opioid drug, meaning it is chemically similar to, or derived from, the opium poppy. Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opioid drug in the United States.

Becoming Dependent on and Addicted to Hydrocodone

People begin taking hydrocodone for many reasons. Some begin taking it when it is prescribed to treat pain. Others experiment with it recreationally, for its euphoric or sedating effects. Either way, people may easily become both physically and psychologically addicted.

Hydrocodone, like other opioid drugs, affects neurotransmitter levels in the body, primarily increasing the amount of dopamine produced. The body, always striving to maintain health and balance, compensates by producing lower and lower levels. This leads to predictable effects.

The first change that someone taking hydrocodone is likely to notice is that ever-increasing amounts of the drug must be taken in order to receive the same benefits previously noted. This is known as drug tolerance and is a sign that the body is beginning to adapt to the medication. As the body continues to adapt and change, it enters the stage of dependence. In this stage, taking the drug is necessary in order to feel normal and when the drug is not taken regularly, withdrawal symptoms occur. Finally, full addiction occurs when the user craves the drug, places a high priority on using it, and continues to use it despite negative consequences.

How quickly a person will pass through each stage depends on a variety of factors, including dosage and frequency of use, and personal biological makeup. It is possible to become dependent on hydrocodone in as little as a few weeks. Others progress through the stages more slowly.

Treating Hydrocodone Addiction

Understanding the changes the drug has made to a user’s brain is foundational to effective addiction treatment. Quality treatment will include a safe, medically managed detox followed by inpatient or outpatient counseling which provides motivation, education, and support. Maintenance therapy with an approved medication is often a part of treating addiction to hydrocodone. The medications generally used are methadone or buprenorphine, which bind to opioid receptors and thus reduce drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone is another medication which blocks opioid receptors and can help prevent relapse. Assessing and addressing any co-occurring mental and physical health conditions and treating them simultaneously are also important treatment components.

Finding a Quality Addiction Treatment Center

It is very easy to begin taking hydrocodone for medical reasons, or to fit in or have fun with friends, and to then find yourself caught in the drug’s addictive claws. We can help you escape. Call our toll-free number anytime, 24 hours a day, and let us give you the information and assistance you need to break free. There’s no need to face this alone. We’re only a phone call away.