What Hydrocodone Does to Your Brain Chemistry

What Hydrocodone Does to Your Brain Chemistry

Hydrocodone is a narcotic painkiller that contains synthetic opium. It is highly addictive, and it powerfully affects people. It is sold under the following names:

  • Vicodin
  • Lorcet
  • Lortab

Hydrocodone affects dopamine levels in the brain to change how the central nervous system reacts to pain. At high doses, it creates a sense of euphoria that can lead to addiction within one to four weeks, depending on individual tolerance. Also, as people continue to abuse this powerful drug, then they will begin to show any of the following signs of physical drug addiction:

  • Anxiety
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lethargy and drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Inability to concentrate

Symptoms of psychological dependence include the following problems:

  • Mood swings
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Preoccupation with finding and using drugs
  • Depression or anxiety when unable to take drugs
  • Loss of motivation
  • Inability to handle typical pressures
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

Hydrocodone addiction is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Your brain changes when you take this drug, especially when you take the drug for a long time. With professional help, recovery is possible, so do not believe that you can get or stay well on your own.

Your Brain on Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone affects the nerve cells that operate the spinal cord, limbic system and brain stem. When these nerve cells respond to opiates, a signal is sent to the receptors that control the way the brain functions. As the drug begins to wear off, brain functions slowly shift back to normal. Tolerance, dependence and addiction are all manifestations of brain changes resulting from abuse. Hydrocodone impacts brain chemistry in the following ways:

  • Changes the communication patterns between nerve cells
  • Changes shapes of neurons and cells
  • Rewires pleasure circuits to produce cravings
  • Alters synapses between cells

No one knows for sure whether the brain can ever completely heal from long-term hydrocodone abuse. Some evidence suggests that the ability to feel pleasure naturally never returns to normal levels. Hydrocodone also seems capable of shrinking brain areas that are critical for executive functioning and impulse control. This could be one explanation for the high incidence of relapse among individuals attempting to break their addictions. Professional help is almost always required, and the sooner an individual receives it, the better her chances become for minimizing long-term damage.

Recovery from Hydrocodone Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with hydrocodone abuse, know that you are not alone. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction, so please call now to start your recovery today.