The Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse

Learn how to recognize the effects of hydrocodone abuse

Could you recognize the signs of hydrocodone abuse in someone you love? Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid medication prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and deep coughs. It is marketed under a variety of names, including Vicodin, Lortab, and Percocet, and is usually combined with other medications, such as acetaminophen and aspirin to make it more effective.  Many people mistakenly believe that since hydrocodone is combined with over the counter drugs it is not addictive, but in fact hydrocodone has a high potential for abuse. Once patients begin abusing hydrocodone, they often become severely addicted in an amazingly short amount of time. Learning how to recognize the effects of hydrocodone abuse may enable you to help a loved one get into rehab treatment before it is too late.

Hydrocodone abuse occurs when individuals take the drug and it has not been prescribed to them, or they ingest it in greater amounts than prescribed in order to get high.  Many patients who have been legitimately prescribed hydrocodone end up abusing the drug as tolerance develops. Tolerance can develop quickly, where patients need to take increasing amounts of the drug to get the same effect. Since patients are generally prescribed hydrocodone for pain, and hydrocodone can cause poor judgment, patients begin taking more of the drug.

Hydrocodone abuse signs

If you are wondering if someone you know is beginning to abuse hydrocodone, look for the following signs of hydrocodone abuse:

  • Taking more of the drug than prescribed
  • Changing the way hydrocodone is taken; for instance, moving from taking tablets orally to crushing and snorting them to achieve a faster, more intense high
  • Continuing taking the drug after the medical issue has resolved
  • Seeking alternative sources of the drug
  • “Doctor shopping” to obtain new prescriptions
  • If stopping hydrocodone produces withdrawal symptoms such as severe cramping, nausea, chills, and tremors that go away when drug is taken
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Inability to focus

Understanding hydrocodone addiction

Hydrocodone is extremely physically addictive. Once individuals begin abusing hydrocodone, it can take as short a time as two weeks before they end up physically dependent on the drug. Once dependence occurs, individuals experience debilitating withdrawal symptoms unless they take it every twelve to twenty four hours. Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include intense craving for the drug, severe muscle cramps and pains, nausea, tremors, chills, and diarrhea. Addicts may experience insomnia, irritation, seizures, and convulsions.

At that point, users are physically addicted to hydrocodone. The withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone are so painful and uncomfortable that many users will do almost anything to obtain more drugs so they can keep from experiencing them. At this point, users are fully addicted to hydrocodone and treatment can be difficult.

Treatment for hydrocodone addiction

Once individuals are addicted to hydrocodone, they should not try to stop taking the drug on their own. An accredited addiction rehab center can provide the medical support needed for a successful recovery. The first step is medically supervised detox to stop taking the drug. Addiction specialists and medical personnel can provide medications to alleviate the worst hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms. A stay at an inpatient rehab center or intensive outpatient rehab program is next, where addicts can learn coping strategies that will help them avoid relapses in the future. For the most severe cases of hydrocodone addiction, a stay at a halfway house or sober living community may be recommended. These residential programs help recovering addicts learn how to manage in real world situations without relapsing into drug abuse.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.