Guide to Hydrocodone Addiction

Renaissance Recovery logo

By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

An image of a person with hydrocodone addiction

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Vicodin addiction can easily occur as this powerful opioid painkiller contains hydrocodone.

SAMHSA recently published data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH 2020). While this data shows that alcoholism and drug addiction both increased significantly in the United States from 2019 to 2020, the total number of adults in the US with opioid use disorder (OUD) decreased.

Even if the opioid epidemic is not yet resolved, this encouraging decrease in OUDs suggests that efforts to limit the prescription of opioids combined with the effective medication-assisted treatment of OUD are both going at least some way to minimize hydrocodone abuse and the abuse of other prescription opioids.

What is hydrocodone used for, then?

What is Hydrocodone?

A prescription opioid painkiller, hydrocodone is prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain.

Hydrocodone contains the following active ingredients:

  • Hydrocodone: A potent synthetic opioid, activating the same neurotransmitters as opiate narcotics like heroin.
  • Acetaminophen: This is the active ingredient found in the OTC painkiller Tylenol.

Vicodin tablets contain hydrocodone in the following levels:

  • 5mg
  • 7.5mg
  • 10mg

Depending on the dosage of hydrocodone, each tablet of Vicodin contains between 300 mg and 325mg of acetaminophen.

Typically, one hydrocodone tablet is taken every 4 to 6 hours throughout the day when used as prescribed. In the event of hydrocodone addiction, people often consume much higher doses.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid?

Hydrocodone is an opioid, and like all drugs in this class has a strong potential for both addiction and abuse.

Is Hydrocodone Addictive?

Hydrocodone was reclassified as a schedule II controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Agency in late 2014. Previously, hydrocodone was under Schedule III of the CSA (Controlled Substances Act).

The medication was reclassified due to the strong abuse potential identified for both Vicodin in isolation, and also other combination drugs containing hydrocodone.

Any use of hydrocodone other than directed, and all hydrocodone use without an underpinning prescription is considered hydrocodone abuse.

The symptoms of hydrocodone abuse will differ from person to person, but there is one constant of Vicodin abuse: tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction will all follow as a result of sustained abuse.

Brand Names

You can find hydrocodone in the following branded forms:

  • Vicodin HP
  • Norco
  • Anexsia
  • Zydone
  • Lortab
  • Maxidone
  • Co-Gesic
  • Ceta Plus
  • Lorcet
  • Hycet
  • Stagesic
  • Dolorex Forte
An image of a man with hydrocodone addiction

What Does Hydrocodone Do?

Hydrocodone is prescribed to relieve pain for up to six hours. It is routinely prescribed by medical professionals for the relief of post-surgery pain.

Like all opioids, hydrocodone has a strong potential for abuse and addiction, with tolerance quickly building – more on this below.

Hydrocodone can be toxic to the liver. It was discovered that acetaminophen can trigger liver damage and severe allergic reactions in large doses. Due to this, the FDA changed guidelines on products containing acetaminophen in 2011. A limit of 325 mg of this substance was placed on painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet.

Does hydrocodone make you sleepy, then?

Does It Make You Sleepy?

Hydrocodone can make you feel drowsy, especially if you consume this medication in combination with alcohol.

Using hydrocodone and alcohol together will magnify the effects on your CNS (central nervous system), making you feel drowsy and sleepy.

Hydrocodone Side Effects

In addition to the pain-relieving properties of Vicodin, many potential side effects manifest. This occurs with all hydrocodone combination medications.

If you experience any of the following symptoms severely, or if the symptoms do not dissipate, inform your healthcare provider. Do not suddenly stop taking hydrocodone without medical guidance and supervision.

The most common hydrocodone side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Feeling unusually happy or sad
  • Problems urinating
  • Dry throat
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Pinprick pupils

You should call your doctor immediately if you encounter any of the following serious hydrocodone side effects:

  • Chest tightness
  • Decreased libido
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Appetite loss
  • Dizziness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Irregular breathing
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea

As with all hydrocodone combination products, you could also experience other side effects not listed above. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you encounter any problems while taking hydrocodone.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal

Hydrocodone withdrawal, like all opioid withdrawal, can be intensely uncomfortable, but it’s also fairly fleeting. Symptoms will dissipate in most cases after 7 to 10 days.

The half-life of Vicodin is 4 hours, so withdrawal symptoms present around 8 hours after the last dose.

Hydrocodone triggers similar withdrawal symptoms to other opioid painkillers. These include:

  • Psychological changes: Mood swings, irritability, confusion, and anxiety.
  • Physical symptoms: Enlarged pupils, tremors, sweating, diarrhea, fever, cold-like symptoms, nasal congestion, vomiting, and nausea.
  • Appetite changes: Reduced hunger and cravings for Vicodin.

If you feel hydrocodone rehab would give you the strongest chance of discontinuing the use of this powerful opioid, we can help here at Renaissance.

Renaissance Recovery logo | hydrocodone addiction

Hydrocodone Rehab at Renaissance Recovery

At Renaissance Recovery center, we specialize in the outpatient treatment of addictions, delivering the support and structure you need to combat substance use disorders like OUD without the cost of restrictions of inpatient treatment.

Our hydrocodone addiction treatment is available via the following delivery methods:

We also offer virtual addiction treatment for anyone unable or unwilling to attend traditional outpatient therapy.

When you engage with treatment at the right intensity for the severity of your hydrocodone addiction, you’ll have access to these evidence-based therapies:

  • MAT: Medication-assisted treatment can be a valuable component of a comprehensive hydrocodone addiction treatment plan, streamlining the discomfort of withdrawal and minimizing cravings for hydrocodone.
  • Psychotherapy: MAT is always most effective when delivered alongside psychotherapy like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy). Discover what triggers you to use hydrocodone by working with your therapist, then learn how to implement healthy coping strategies instead of reaching for a hydrocodone pill.
  • Counseling: Benefit from both individual and group counseling to explore the psychological aspect of addiction in general, and hydrocodone addiction in particular.

When using hydrocodone starts causing more problems than it is solving, it’s time to fight back. Reach out to admissions at Renaissance and we’ll help you to leave opioids behind you. Call 866.330.9449 today.

An image of people in Ocean Therapy
Addiction and Recovery

Ocean Therapy

Holistic interventions like ocean therapy can effectively supplement evidence-based treatments to promote recovery from addiction. By engaging with ocean therapy, you could strengthen your stress

Read More »
An image of a woman on a beach going through the Opioid Withdrawal Timeline
Addiction and Recovery

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

The opioid withdrawal timeline is similar regardless of the type of opioids involved, typically lasting for between four and ten days. Opioid withdrawal can be

Read More »
An image of a person going through Codeine Withdrawal
Addiction and Recovery

Codeine Withdrawal

Codeine is a medication prescribed for pain relief, sleeplessness, and coughing. Although the short-term use of codeine under medical supervision is typically safe and effective,

Read More »
an image of a client

Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

an image of a client

Paige R

“They truly cared for me and the other people that I served with! From this group, I have made 8 new brothers and friends for life! We have continued on, after the program, to take care of each other”

an image of a client

Courtney S

“Great staff who took the time to get to know me. They have a lot of experience in this field and have first hand experience with what I was going through. IOP is outstanding and really built up a ton of great relationships and found this program to be a ‘breath of fresh air’.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country