Hydrocodone is a pain killer prescribed by a doctor. It’s also known as Lortab and Vicodin. These pills help with pain but even when using them for a short period of time can become habit-forming. Vicodin is one of the most abused opioids in the country even though stronger medications are available. Most prescribed hydrocodone formulations combine acetaminophen and hydrocodone together in one pill, which is especially hard on the patient’s liver after long term or heavy use.
How Hydrocodone Works
Hydrocodone is part of a drug class known as narcotic analgesics. These substances connect to proteins in the spinal cord and brain known as opioid receptors, which then send signals to the brain to stop feeling pain. The patient feels more drowsy and euphoric instead of pain. Hydrocodone cough medication is also sometimes prescribed for patients with respiratory infections or severe colds, as it can suppress cough signals from being sent to the brain, as well.
Treatment for hydrocodone addiction
As physicians continually increase the number of prescriptions they write for hydrocodone, drug rehabilitation centers also keep seeing an increase in the number of clients seeking treatment for prescription painkiller addiction. Some users may believe it is safe to abuse these types of medications because they are prescribed by a doctor. Americans use almost 99 percent of the hydrocodone worldwide, according to a leading pain management physicians’ medical journal. Over-prescribing of the drug, and wide distribution from pharmacies means acquiring the addictive pill is very easy for many patients, and abuse is likely.
Hydrocodone – Is it addictive?
Hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin) is exceptionally habit-forming because it alters the perception of the brain and Central Nervous System. It’s very easy to form a dependency on this drug in a short time, which could easily escalate to an uncontrollable addiction. When taking opioid medications, many patients begin at a lower dose as prescribed, but then may start taking additional doses more frequently – abusing the drug, in order to feel the same sensations that they first experienced when taking the narcotic.
The signs of addiction
Before seeking treatment for prescription medication abuse, there are signs you can look for to help determine if the user has a problem with opioid addiction. Active users will go to any means to get more of their medication. Most eventually stop caring about their responsibilities at home and at work. Personal relationships likely start falling apart, as the user is often on edge and could be experiencing many financial difficulties as they attempt to pay for their appointments, medications, or alternative means to obtain the drugs. They also experience withdrawal symptoms when they don’t have the substance. A few examples of withdrawal are: restless legs, lack of motivation, and irritability.
To many users, the effects of Hydrocodone likely feel harmless, probably even beneficial. Not only does it eliminate mild to moderate pain, but it gives the user a “euphoric” feeling described as including:
- Reduced worry and stress
- Felling a type of numbness
- Nodding out / falling asleep
- Feeling on top of the world can do anything
Long term effects
The most dangerous long-term effect of Hydrocodone is addiction. It is similar to heroin, morphine and other substances used to avoid pain. Even when a patient takes the medication as prescribed, there is still a risk of addiction. Once the body develops a tolerance to the substance, it must find a way to sustain this new dependence.
The long term effects start with liver damage, kidney damage, and even hearing loss. In addition, the effects on the person’s social life should never be underestimated. Damage to relationships with family and loved ones and associated health effects like Depression are common among those struggling with addiction. Many patients in active prescription drug abuse also have low job performance and struggle professionally or academically. There are countless consequences of prescription drug abuse.
Experiencing hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) Withdrawal
Hydrocodone withdrawal includes mental, physical, and emotional components. This is why it is particularly important to seek appropriate rehabilitative treatment for a loved one struggling with this type of addiction. In-patient facilities are especially ideal with hydrocodone users, as they are much better equipped to handle keep the patient comfortable during the detoxification period, by ensuring medical staff is on hand at all times.
The physical effects of opiate withdrawal vary depending upon several factors, including how long the person has been using the substance and how much they used on a daily basis. Here are some typical withdrawal symptoms:
- Lack of sleep
- Body aches
- Restless legs
- Hot and cold sweats
- Nausea/ vomiting
Finding Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment
Selecting the appropriate treatment center for someone struggling with hydrocodone addiction is one of the most important decisions a loved one can make. Enrolling the user in an in-patient center – as opposed to trying outpatient treatment – has been shown to produce a more successful road to recovery for many families. Fully immersive inpatient facilities provide knowledgeable, supportive staff to show the client how to create structure once they return home, helping them to attain long-term sobriety.
In addition, the full-time nature of inpatient treatment prevents the user from inadvertently succumbing to old habits. Longer term treatment also focuses on what led the client to abuse these drugs in the first place. Getting personal with the user and discovering the motivation behind their decisions is a key to lasting recovery. If the client does not understand what led them down the path of addiction, they will not have the ability to change their response in the future. Inpatient treatment focuses upon providing the client with the tools to make better choices the next time around.