Exactly How Addictive is Hydrocodone?

Worried a Problem May Be Developing? Find Out How Addictive is Hydrocodone

In answer to the question ‘how addictive is hydrocodone?’ the medication is a narcotic opiate drug synthesized from the codeine alkaloid found in the opium poppy. Hydrocodone is powerful opiate painkiller commonly prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain.

Hydrocodone is a highly effective painkiller medication when used exactly as prescribed and is commonly sold under the trade name of Zohydro. It may also be available in combination formulations with paracetamol (Vicodin), ibuprofen (Vicoprofen), or aspirin (Lortab).  The medication is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act due to its high potential for abuse. Using the medication in any way other than was prescribed by a doctor may increase the potential for physical dependency and addiction.

There is some evidence to indicate that hydrocodone can be more likely to cause dependency than oxycodone. However, studies show that oxycodone is approximately 50% more potent than hydrocodone.

Addiction to hydrocodone may be more prevalent as it is abused more commonly than any other type of opioid drug in America.

One of the primary reasons people ask ‘how addictive is hydrocodone’ is the curiosity about whether abusing the medication in an effort to get high might be somehow safer than using heroin to achieve the same effects. In reality, hydrocodone formulations tend to have a slower-release formulation than the faster-acting heroin or morphine but are still narcotic opiate drugs.

Side Effects Hydrocodone Can Cause

Even when used exactly as prescribed, there are some unwanted side effects hydrocodone can cause. Some of the more common side effects hydrocodone can create in some people include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Swelling of the hands or feet
  • Rash or itching
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Slow or shallow breathing rate
  • Tolerance, or needing to take higher doses to achieve the same effects
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction

What Causes Addiction to Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is an opiate painkiller medication that binds to the body’s opioid receptors. When taken, the medication sends an artificial trigger to the brain to release a flood of feel-good hormones into the system, such as dopamine and serotonin. The body’s pain receptors are switched off temporarily, which is what makes the medication so effective as a pain reliever in medical situations.

However, abusing the drug for non-medical purposes or taking larger doses than were prescribed can cause significant changes in the brain’s chemistry. Continued abuse over a period of time eventually triggers the brain into believing that it is unable to produce dopamine or serotonin naturally unless it continues to receive more of the drug.

If the person tries to stop using the medication abruptly, the brain can’t adapt and remains unable to produce once-naturally occurring hormones. It’s likely the person will experience a range of extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that are almost identical to those of heroin detox. At this point, the person is considered physically dependent.

So, how addictive is hydrocodone really? It can be considered equally as addictive as most other opiate painkiller drugs, including morphine, oxycodone, and heroin, especially when used for recreational or non-medical purposes.

Treating Addiction to Hydrocodone

Treating addiction to hydrocodone begins with the detox process. If a person has developed a physical dependency on the medication and tries to quit using by going ‘cold turkey’, it’s likely that a variety of painfully nasty withdrawal symptoms will emerge.

By comparison, seeking specialized treatment for addiction to hydrocodone in a drug rehab facility can make the detox process more manageable and much safer. Medically-assisted detox programs are designed to alleviate the severity of withdrawal symptoms and provide medical supervision throughout the detox process.

Comprehensive rehab treatment programs also incorporate various behavioral therapies and individual counseling sessions aimed at discovering the underlying psychological triggers behind self-destructive behaviors associated with prescription drug abuse.

If you’re concerned about questions such as ‘how addictive is hydrocodone’ and whether you might have developed a dependency on the medication, take the time to call and speak with an addiction specialist. It could be the first step on the path to recovery from addiction to hydrocodone.




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.