How to Help a Hydrocodone Addict
If an addiction to hydrocodone is consuming your life or the life of someone you care about, you're not alone. Help is available, and it isn't hard to find when you know where to look.
How to Approach a Hydrocodone Addict
The abuse of hydrocodone can lead to serious health and social consequences, making the support of family and friends a priority. Loved ones can play an important role in helping an addicted individual seek professional help. There are many different views and opinions on how support should be offered.
Confrontational approaches, like the ones you may have heard of or seen on TV, can sometimes have low success rates and may result in making your loved one feel betrayed. If you plan to utilize an intervention, make sure you plan it carefully and consider getting the help of a professional.
A more recent study found that family and friends should remain positive and approachable, supporting the addicted individual in seeking help or changing their behavior if they choose to. Family and friends should try not be overly forceful, as this can damage your relationship with the addicted individual and stress the relationship. It may be difficult to accept that you cannot make a person change if they do not want to, but maintaining a good relationship is key to helping your loved one. Remember, maintaining a loving relationship does not equate to enabling. Encourage your loved one to attend treatment and support them in their efforts to do so, but avoid enabling harmful behaviors through actions like providing money for drugs, etc.
If you need help communicating with your loved one in a healthy way, one type of therapy that has proven successful is Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT). This method aims to help family members influence positive change in their addicted loved ones.
Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment
One of the most important decisions someone seeking help needs to make is what type of treatment program to complete. When considering treatment options, it is important that you choose a program that fits your needs and lifestyle.
Outpatient treatment programs provide many with quality substance abuse treatment, but with enough flexibility that they're able to tend to daily responsibilities, like work or childcare. Some programs will require that you check in with a drug abuse counselor on a daily basis, while others will require your participation for a few hours a day, and for a few days each week. Outpatient programs will not interrupt your life as much as inpatient programs, but many people benefit from the added structure of inpatient facilities, which allows them to fully commit to their recovery – undistracted by outside commitments and temptations.
Inpatient treatment is the more immersive, structured option of the two. You will live with others who are going through treatment. Inpatient facilities provide medically supervised care and trained staff to help you throughout your detoxification process. Depending on the severity of your opioid addiction, treatment may include medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for the management of opiate withdrawal and cravings. Medications used as part of MAT may include:
- Methadone — A long-acting synthetic opioid agonist medication. It is used to prevent withdrawal symptoms and help curb cravings. The drug has a long history of being used to treat opioid-addicted individuals.
- Buprenorphine — A synthetic opioid that works as a partial agonist, meaning that it only partially activates opioid receptors in the brain, providing enough effects to curb withdrawal and cravings but not enough to bring about a significant high. This drug discourages abuse by providing a ceiling to the euphoric effects, meaning once the effects reach a certain point, taking more won’t do any good.
- Naltrexone — A synthetic opioid antagonist that blocks the euphoric effects of opioids. When taken diligently, naltrexone provides an effective tool to discourage continued drug abuse. The drug has no potential for abuse and is not addictive.
As you begin your treatment, you may participate in:
- Group therapy sessions.
- Individual therapy sessions.
- Educational talks about addiction and recovery.
Recovery from a hydrocodone addiction can be life-saving. If your loved one is struggling with a dependency to hydrocodone, there are effective techniques to talk with them about treatment.
- Attend group therapy sessions.
- Attend individual therapy sessions.
- Go to educational lectures about addiction and recovery.
Addiction Treatment vs. Hospital Treatment
Rates of death for opioid addicts treated only in a hospital were higher than the rates of death for opioid addicts treated in a formal addiction treatment program, according to a 2017 study. Having an addiction specialist as a major part of recovery may help to identify and address many of the unique issues that hydrocodone addicts face when working toward abstinence. It’s important to include addiction professionals in your recovery process.
Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Opioid Abusers at Higher Death Risk When Addiction Specialists Not Part of Care. Medline Plus.
Is Hydrocodone Addictive?
Doctors prescribe hydrocodone – found in several commonly prescribed opioid analgesics such as Lortab, Norco and Vicodin – for the short-term management of a number of causes of pain. The medication works by altering the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it's common for people who use hydrocodone for an extended amount of time to develop a chemical dependency to the medication, eventually fostering the onset of patterns of compulsive use and addiction. Learn more about the dangerous effects of Hydrocodone use.
What are the Signs of Addiction?
Addiction tends to affect every aspect of a person's life. You might notice that a hydrocodone user is beginning to neglect his or her responsibilities at home or work. It's also common for people addicted to pain pills to have problems in their personal relationships.
Typically, an addiction controls the addict. Hydrocodone abusers might find themselves consumed with thoughts about how to obtain more pills.
Financial problems, lack of motivation and withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use are also signs of addiction.
In addition, the addict may find that the level of drugs prescribed by a doctor no longer effectively reduce the pain and/or provide a "high". When this happens, tolerance has built up. As tolerance develops, those abusing the drugs in question often seek higher doses to accommodate for its presence, and their potential for addiction rises accordingly.
Am I Addicted to Hydrocodone?
Taking hydrocodone for a long time causes the body to form a chemical dependency. When this occurs, your body may seem to function poorly without the medication. You might experience withdrawal symptoms or find yourself moody and irritable without the drug. A hydrocodone abuser might also experience cravings for the drug if they haven't had their normal supply.
If your body relies on hydrocodone to function correctly and it's affecting you in other areas of your life, you may need addiction treatment.
You may be addicted if:
- Your body depends on the drug to function.
- You think about hydrocodone numerous times throughout the day.
- Your hydrocodone usage affects other areas of your life.
- You feel as though you cannot live without hydrocodone.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. National Institutes of Health. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. Third Edition. (December 2012). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
- Johnson VE: Intervention: How to Help Someone who Doesn't Want Help. 1986, Minneapolis, MN: Johnson Institute Books. https://books.google.com
- Kingston, A. H., Morgan, A. J., Jorm, A. F., Hall, K., Hart, L. M., Kelly, C. M., & Lubman, D. I. (2011). Helping someone with problem drug use: a Delphi consensus study of consumers, carers, and clinicians. BMC psychiatry,11(1), 1. http://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-11-3