How Addictive is Hydrocodone?

Asking Yourself “How Addictive is Hydrocodone” is a Key Step in Preventing and Combating Addiction

Hydrocodone, also known by the trade name Vicodin, is a potent opioid derived from codeine and used as an analgesic narcotic. Its primary use as a pain management medication following a moderate trauma or major surgery. The US is currently facing a widespread opioid crisis. Current statistics point to 91 Americans dying every day from an opiate overdose. Furthermore, as many as 2 million people suffered from a prescription opioid disorder in 2015. In times like these, the question of just how addictive is hydrocodone is increasingly relevant.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the side effects hydrocodone is known to have on the body or withdrawal from hydrocodone, know there is hope. Call the friendly professionals WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470 today to get the help you need.

Will I Develop an Addiction If I Use Hydrocodone?

Let’s first begin with the question of “just how addictive is hydrocodone” The US government classified hydrocodone as a Schedule II substance. Drugs in that category carry a high potential for abuse stemming from physical or psychological dependence. Physicians in the US are more careful than ever before when prescribing hydrocodone or any opioid medication, in light of its addictive nature and the growing rates of prescription opioid disorder.

Nevertheless, opiates are necessary therapeutic tools in modern medicine. Asking, “How addictive is hydrocodone?” won’t give you enough information about its abuse potential or what will happen if you take the medication, but it’s a good place to start. The real answer lies in following doctor’s orders. If your physician or healthcare provider prescribed hydrocodone and you follow their instructions, always follow up with them, and use caution by only taking hydrocodone as needed, it’s possible to use the medication without becoming dependent on it.

How Does Hydrocodone Addiction Happen?

Opiates like hydrocodone work by binding themselves to opioid receivers in your brain, which causes pain relief.  Our brain is wired to create a reward mechanism when we perform activities necessary for survival. That way, we associate life-sustaining actions such as eating with pleasure and are more likely to do them again.

When you alleviate yourself of pain, your body attributes a positive value to that. How addictive hydrocodone is in different individuals is difficult to ascertain. Studies show that the safe period to use opiates is up to seven days. Prolonged use may lead to dependence. Stopping the medication once you’ve developed a dependency for it triggers symptoms of withdrawal from hydrocodone.

Repeated exposure to hydrocodone and the pleasure that accompanies it at that point may change the brain’s reward pathway. Simply put, your brain becomes hardwired to think it needs hydrocodone to survive. Addiction is born.

What Are the Side Effects Hydrocodone Causes?

As an opioid, hydrocodone causes many of the same side effects as other drugs in this category. These include:

  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching
  • Swelling of your hands or feet
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Flu-like symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, or sore throats
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

What Are the Signs of Drug Abuse?

The National Institute of Drug Abuse lists the following as symptoms of drug abuse:

  • Taking medication that wasn’t prescribed to you.
  • Taking higher doses or quantities than what was prescribed.
  • Taking the drug for a different purpose than the one for which it was prescribed.

If you’re exhibiting any of the following behaviors, then you may be at risk for a hydrocodone substance abuse disorder.

  • Intense cravings for hydrocodone
  • Difficulty or inability in controlling your dosage or use
  • Difficulty or inability in keeping social, professional, and personal commitments
  • Developing tolerance
  • Experiencing hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal from Hydrocodone

If your body has developed a hydrocodone dependence, you’ll experience hydrocodone withdrawal. Symptoms usually begin 12 hours after the last dose. Opiate withdrawal usually occurs in three phases. The first two phases are the most physically severe and last up to two weeks. Common symptoms include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Yawning
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Body aches
  • Cramps
  • Chills

The latter phase is when the physical symptoms abate significantly, but the psychological may persevere for months. These symptoms include:

  • Drug cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia

If you or someone you care about is addicted to hydrocodone, you need help. Kicking the addiction alone is nearly insurmountable. Rehab and professional supervision are great tools at your disposal.


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.