Addiction and dependence are two separate concepts, but they often occur simultaneously. When someone is addicted to a drug like hydrocodone, it’s a diagnosable condition that affects the brain, behavior and physical health. Certain symptoms can be used to diagnose someone as having an addiction disorder.
Dependence is one sign of an addiction, but someone can become physically dependent on hydrocodone even if they aren’t addicted. Hydrocodone affects the central nervous system, including the brain. This is how the drug is able to relieve pain so effectively.
Normalcy & Dependence
When the brain and central nervous system are repeatedly exposed to hydrocodone, they can become dependent on the presence of the drug. The brain and central nervous system start to the only function with a sense of “normalcy” when someone is on hydrocodone. Hydrocodone dependence can occur relatively quickly, and even if someone is taking the medication exactly as prescribed.
Once a hydrocodone dependence has formed, a person who tries to stop using it suddenly will likely go through withdrawal. Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. The severity of the symptoms depends on the body chemistry of the person, the dosage of hydrocodone they were using, and how long they had been using hydrocodone.
Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal
The symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal can include:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Teary eyes
- Sleep disturbances
- Frequent yawning
- Changes in vision
- Dilated pupils
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline
Extended-release hydrocodone will usually stay in the system of the user for a longer period of time than shorter-acting opioids. For example, with heroin, which is a fast-acting opioid, withdrawal symptoms will usually begin within about 12 hours after the last dose is used. Sometimes it can be even sooner—within around six hours or so that opioid withdrawal symptoms begin.
With extended-release hydrocodone, it can be as long as 30 hours before someone starts to experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms will usually peak within around 48 to 72 hours, and then gradually start to subside within the first week after the last dose of hydrocodone is used.
Some people may experience longer withdrawal symptoms that last for weeks or month, particularly if they were heavy or long-term hydrocodone users. These symptoms are primarily psychological. For example, a person who was a long-term hydrocodone user might have symptoms of anxiety or depression that persist for some time after the acute withdrawal symptoms have dissipated.
Treating Hydrocodone Withdrawal
Opioid withdrawal can be one of the biggest roadblocks for someone to stop using drugs, or to seek treatment. Most hydrocodone treatment options including hydrocodone rehab treatment, do require that someone fully detox before treatment actually begins.
With a medical detox, patients can be monitored and supervised and provided the necessary treatments to help keep them safe and comfortable. This is important because it increases the likelihood that someone will then participate in an effective rehab program.
During a medical detox, the following are some of the different ways symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal might be treated:
- If symptoms of opioid withdrawal are mild, a patient may be treated with over-the-counter medicines. For example, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used for aches and pains.
- If a person is experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, they may be provided a medicine like loperamide, and for nausea or vomiting, there are specific medicines available as well.
- Clonidine is a prescription medicine that’s frequently used to treat withdrawal symptoms from all substances and not just opioids. Clonidine can treat everything from psychological symptoms like anxiety to sweating and muscle aches.
Types of Hydrocodone Facilities
Some of the potential hydrocodone facilities a person might go to if they’re seeking treatment for addiction include:
Private rehabs are one of the most common types of treatment facilities most people go to. The term private rehab is a very broad one. These facilities can range from simple and straightforward to high-end with luxury amenities.
Private rehabs do require patients to pay for the cost of their treatment. However, insurance will often take care of some or all of the cost of addiction treatment. Many private rehabs will also offer payment plans, financial assistance, and scholarships.
A private rehab will often begin with a medical detox which is part of the facility, and there are specialized private rehabs as well that cater to specific groups of people or needs.
Non-Profit Rehab Facilities
A non-profit rehab facility offers free or low-cost addiction treatment to patients. There are non-profit rehab facilities around the country, and while they have many advantages, it can be difficult to get into one of these treatment facilities.
Non-profit rehabs tend to have high standards for admission, and there are usually waiting lists for people to be accepted into one of these programs.
A government-funded rehab is another free or low-cost option, funded primarily by taxpayers. Government-funded rehabs are subject to oversight since they are operated by the government, so the quality of care is usually on-par with private rehabs.
There are a variety of types of government-funded treatment facilities including detox centers, inpatient rehab, and long-term treatment.
Other Hydrocodone Treatment Facilities
Within the broad categories of private, non-profit and government-funded rehab, there are many specialized categories. Some of these can include:
A luxury rehab can cost tens of thousands of dollars a month to attend. A luxury rehab facility will often focus on privacy and individualized care. They will also have many amenities on the property, which can feel similar to a resort. There are meals prepared by a chef, activities such as yoga and personal training, and other high-end additions.
While a luxury rehab can be a comfortable place to receive treatment if you have the budget for it, it’s not necessary to attend this kind of facility for effective treatment.
People with severe, long-term addictions or complicating factors such as severe mental health disorders often need a longer-term treatment facility. There are long-term facilities and therapeutic communities. Patients may stay in these facilities for six months to a year, and they learn not only how to stop using drugs like hydrocodone but they may also re-learn life, social and vocational skills.
Medication-assisted treatment is something that is used when people are addicted to opioids including hydrocodone. Medication-assisted treatment refers to a combination of approved medicines with other forms of behavioral treatment, often in an inpatient facility setting.
Some of the medications that might be introduced at an addiction treatment facility for hydrocodone include:
- Methadone, which is a long-acting mild opioid. Methadone affects the same parts of the brain and central nervous system as other opioids, but it’s not as potent. While methadone is approved as a medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence and addiction, its use is somewhat controversial. Some people feel that using methadone is just replacing one opioid with another and isn’t doing anything to help treat addiction.
- Buprenorphine is shorter-acting than methadone, a weak opioid as well, and it’s milder than methadone. Buprenorphine can help stop withdrawal symptoms, so a person may be more likely to go to a treatment facility, however it has the same potential downsides as methadone.
- Suboxone is a brand-name drug used for the treatment of opioid dependence in some cases. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid blocker. The buprenorphine is included in the medication to stop withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone is included in the Suboxone combination to prevent abuse of buprenorphine by blocking the effects of opioid drugs after a certain point.
Along with medications that treat the specific symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal, there are medication-assisted treatments as well. One example is methadone. Methadone is a long-term maintenance drug for opioid dependence. People who use methadone get effects similar to hydrocodone but more mildly.
While methadone can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms as people stop using other opioids, it can, in and of itself lead to dependence. It’s a controversial medication used to treat opioid addiction and dependence.
Another similar medication is Suboxone. Suboxone combines buprenorphine, which is a mild opioid and naloxone which is an opioid blocker. It has some of the downsides of methadone and isn’t always the preferred option to treat hydrocodone detox and withdrawal.
How to Avoid a Hydrocodone Overdose
There are fewer complications possible with opioid detox and withdrawal as compared to other substances. For example, one of the only significant complications is dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting.
With that being said, there is an indirect risk of opioid detox that can be deadly. If someone doesn’t participate in a professional, medical detox, they are more likely to relapse. If you relapse after you haven’t used hydrocodone for a period of time, you’re more likely to overdose.
This is because you may believe you have the same tolerance you did before you started trying to detox. However, your tolerance has likely gone down. Relapsing on opioids after trying to detox is one of the primary reasons people suffer from fatal overdoses. A medical detox can help prevent this deadly outcome and can help ensure that the person then seeks hydrocodone addiction treatment once they have detoxed.