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Side Effects of Hydrocodone Misuse & Addiction

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid that has a similar effect to morphine and is prescribed as a cough suppressant or to manage specific types of pain.1 The most commonly known brands of hydrocodone are Vicodin and Lortab.1

In this article, you will learn more about the adverse effects of hydrocodone, hydrocodone addiction and withdrawal, withdrawal symptoms, and hydrocodone addiction treatment.

Adverse Effects of Hydrocodone Misuse

Some of the most reported adverse effects of hydrocodone include nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.2 Other adverse effects may include:2

  • Lethargy.
  • Anxiety.
  • Mental clouding.
  • Constipation.
  • Shortness of breath

Combining hydrocodone with other central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as alcohol, other opioids or benzodiazepines can result in profound and potentially fatal respiratory depression, sedation, or accidental overdose.2 In addition to these adverse effects, misusing hydrocodone can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.1

Hydrocodone Addiction & Withdrawal

Hydrocodone is available in tablet, capsule, or liquid form. When hydrocodone is misused, it is taken orally, intranasally, or intravenously.1 Hydrocodone misuse may be associated with:3

  • Tolerance, which occurs naturally when using any substance and occurs when more hydrocodone is required to get the same effects you are used to experiencing from a smaller dose.
  • Dependence, the physiological adaptation of the body to a substance, wherein the body becomes so used to the drug being present in the system that when the individual cuts back on their use or quits, withdrawal symptoms emerge.
  • Addiction, which is characterized by a compulsive need to use despite the negative social, financial, economic, or health consequences.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal occurs when the individual is dependent on hydrocodone and cuts back on their use or quits. Withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone include the following:3,4

  • Muscle and bone pain.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Anxiety.
  • Hot and cold flashes.
  • Fever.
  • Insomnia.
  • Uncontrollable body movements.

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment & Detox

Quitting hydrocodone cold turkey may be difficult and could lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that are hard to manage and can often lead to continued use. As a result, it is recommended to seek professional treatment for hydrocodone (and other opioid) addiction so the individual can learn to manage withdrawal symptoms, cravings and urges. There are different levels of drug and alcohol rehab available to those who would like to quit using hydrocodone:5,6

  • Medical detox is often the first step in a full substance use recovery program. This level of care provides a safe and effective way to quit using hydrocodone. Withdrawal is monitored and treated by a team of doctors, nurses, therapists, and techs in a secure setting to make the process of detoxing safer and more comfortable.
  • Inpatient or residential drug rehab may be the next step for some patients after they have completed detox. It may be recommended for long-term hydrocodone users. During inpatient rehab, medications may continue to be prescribed and monitored in addition to individual, group, and recreational therapy modalities. Rehab will help you or your loved one to understand the underlying causes for misusing hydrocodone and will teach you skills to live a life in recovery.
  • Partial hospital programs (PHP) or Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are intensive outpatient levels of care that are provided in a hospital or substance use facility setting. PHP is a full-day program that may include group therapy, individual therapy, and medication management. IOP is a part-day program with the primary focus on group therapy but may include medication management, depending on the program.
  • Aftercare consists of various types of outpatient addiction treatment, including therapy and medication management with someone who specializes in addiction medicine. It also includes maintenance treatment with methadone or buprenorphine for those in recovery from hydrocodone.

Each person entering treatment will have different needs and will present with factors that will impact their treatment. Speaking with a professional about your specific needs while pursuing recovery can help you feel more comfortable with the process of recovering from hydrocodone use.

If you or a loved one is misusing, dependent on, or addicted to hydrocodone, help is available. Contact one of our admissions navigators today at to begin your life in recovery.

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