Do You Understand the Hydrocodone Side Effects?
Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opiate painkiller medication synthesized from codeine, which is an alkaloid found in the opium poppy. The opiate medication is highly effective for treating moderate to severe pain, but even when used correctly can cause a range of unwanted hydrocodone side effects.
However, when the drug is used for non-medical purposes, such as for recreational use or to get ‘high’, the risk of developing hydrocodone side effects increases.
Common Hydrocodone Side Effects
When used exactly as prescribed by a doctor, a person may still experience some unwanted side effects. Some of the more common side effects of hydrocodone use include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Dry throat
- Difficulty urinating
- Rash or itching
Serious Side Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse
Abusing the prescription opiate painkiller medication increases the risk of developing more serious side effects. Drug abuse includes taking the medication for recreational purposes, taking larger doses than were prescribed, or taking medications prescribed for someone else.
Some of the more serious side effects of hydrocodone abuse include:
- Slowed, shallow or irregular breathing rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest tightness
- Swelling of the hands or feet
- Confusion and disorientation
- Loss of consciousness
- Tolerance (needing larger doses to achieve the same effects
- Physical dependence
- Accidental overdose
Hydrocodone Dependency and Addiction
One of the more serious hydrocodone side effects is developing an addiction to the substance. Abusing hydrocodone in any way other than was prescribed by a doctor increase the risk of developing a physical and psychological dependency on the substance.
A person who has become dependent on opiate painkiller medications may experience a range of unpleasant hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms if usage stops abruptly. Common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Severe muscle aches and bone pain
- Flulike symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, fever, chills and goosebumps)
- High blood pressure
- Mood swings and behavioral changes
- Increased heart rate
- Agitation and irritability
- Anxiety and panic attacks
The risk of accidental overdose is significantly increased during a ‘cold turkey’ detox, as the person feels overwhelmingly strong cravings to take more of the drug. The person knows the horrible symptoms will stop with just one more dose, which can cause a relapse.
If the person’s tolerance levels have been reduced throughout detox, the risk of taking too much and causing an accidental overdose is increased.
How Long Does Hydrocodone Withdrawal Last?
If a person with a dependency on the drug tries to stop using suddenly, hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can begin as quickly as a few hours after taking the last dose. Symptoms usually peak within 36 to 72 hours and begin to subside within a week.
However, some people may experience extended hydrocodone side effects of withdrawal that can last for weeks or even months. People with a severe dependency on the opioid painkiller medication may continue to experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, as well as strong cravings for some time.
Medically-Assisted Hydrocodone Detox
The alternative to trying to quit taking the medication by going ‘cold turkey’ is to seek professional help from an addiction rehab treatment facility. Specialists in a rehab center can provide specific treatment medications that help reduce the severity of any side effects of hydrocodone withdrawal that may emerge.
The objective of medically-assisted detox is to replace the drug or addiction with treatment medications. Over a period of time, the dosage is carefully tapered down under medical supervision until the person is free from both drugs.
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.