Hydrocodone is a prescription narcotic pain reliever that, according to American Addiction Centers, is found in over 200 commercial products. It is most often used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, but it is also used to treat a cough as it acts as a cough suppressant. Hydrocodone is the generic name for the drug and is a key active ingredient in different name brand drugs, including Norco, Lorcet, Lortab, and Vicodin. Because of hydrocodone’s status as an opioid, it has a great potential to lead to addiction. Feelings of euphoria often accompany the symptoms of taking hydrocodone.

Short-term Effects of Hydrocodone

Medical professionals prescribe hydrocodone primarily to change the pain signals in the central nervous system by way of interacting with the body’s numerous opioid receptors. Because hydrocodone is a pain reliever, it does not work to actually decrease the source of the pain, but instead, to change the user’s perception of the pain. This is a very desired feeling by individuals who are experiencing intense and acute pain every day.

Other short-term effects of hydrocodone include:

  • Increased sense of well-being.
  • Numbness.
  • Feeling of tiredness or lethargy
  • Decreased worry and stress.

Hydrocodone is a prescription medication that doctors prescribe for patients who are experiencing some type of pain, often chronic, and are looking for relief. Hydrocodone brings the sought-after relief and a possible side-effect for some, a pleasurable high that interacts with the brain’s reward system. Hydrocodone works to make more dopamine (the brain’s pleasure chemical) available in the brain, which produces these positive feelings. Both of these effects of hydrocodone help to explain why it is easy for an individual to develop an addiction to hydrocodone and other drugs. This is even possible in situations where initial use was done according to prescribed directions by a medical professional.

Long-term Effects of Hydrocodone Use

Repeated use of hydrocodone frequently leads to tolerance. This means an individual will require more of the drug over time in order to get the same effect as the body once did. Tolerance can build up quite quickly with these medications. In some cases, all it takes is a few doses.

Tolerance is the key that can easily unlock the door to addiction. Addiction describes the problematic and compulsive drug use that negatively impacts multiple areas of a person’s life. Despite the problems it creates, those locked in a cycle of compulsive drug use continue to seek out and abuse the drug.

Other common long-term effects of hydrocodone dependency are:

  • Clothes may be dirty and unkempt, hygiene may be poor, and grooming may be significantly lacking. This can be due to a lack of interest in oneself because of the individual’s preoccupation with using drugs.
  • There can appear to be behavioral changes in an individual, which may include social isolation, acting secretive, lying, socializing with new people, and treating people poorly who are not providing drugs.
  • To pay for the hydrocodone abuse, an individual may drain all available assets, such as money in bank accounts, bonds, or pension plans. Certain valuable items may go missing from the person’s home or the home of a friend or loved-one.
  • An individual may abuse various opioid medications interchangeably and refer to the medications as their street names. Street names depend on the exact branded drug that is being used. For instance, Lortab may be called tabs, and hydrocodone may be referred to as hydros. Other street names include vics, vikes, or vico for Vicodin.

Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction

Withdrawal from long-term hydrocodone use can be very uncomfortable. The opiate withdrawal syndrome is frequently described as having flu-like symptoms. Despite the potential for some very uncomfortable days, the opiate detox process is not typically life-threatening. It is crucial to be under the supervision of licensed medical professionals with experience with patients in the detoxification process. Treatment focused on the addiction will prove to be crucial, but another important part of the treatment of hydrocodone addiction involves discovering why an individual became addicted in the first place, and how he or she can live without the substance in the future. Mental health treatment, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help those addicted to deal with the daily stresses of their lives and teach them new coping mechanisms that will prevent further abuse.