Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment
Hydrocodone is the main ingredient that can be found in some opioid painkillers. Its administration is heavily regulated and monitored because prolonged use will lead to hydrocodone dependence, tolerance and ultimately, addiction. For those who are asking what drug is hydrocodone, it’s in the same league as morphine, oxycodone or codeine. People may be familiar with the brand names Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, and Zohydro and these are hydrocodone-based painkillers.
Hydrocodone is an extremely dangerous drug. It’s important that you talk to your doctor about other medicines you are taking to determine the counteracting effects or avoid overdose. For parents, they need to put their pill bottle away from the reach of children. If abused, this drug will cause health risks or even death. The doctor will closely monitor the patient who is taking hydrocodone for any ill side effects. The dosage will then be adjusted accordingly to manage the pain, but also protect the health of the patient. People suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD are advised to steer clear of the drug.
In 2014, the US Drug Enforcement Agency moved hydrocodone combination products to Schedule II from the previous Schedule III. Schedule II, according to the DEA, refer to dangerous drugs that have a high potential for abuse. Abuse of these drugs will lead to severe dependence, both physically and psychologically. The restriction means that doctors may only be able to issue prescriptions for up to three months. Prior to the stricter schedule, patients may ask to be prescribed for as long as 180 days. Typically, however, prescriptions should only last a month unless an extension has a medical justification.
Associated Risks of Being Addicted to Hydrocodone
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are 115 people who die daily due to opioid poisoning. Meanwhile, the opioid crisis in the US is already costing taxpayers more than $78 million every year due to federal and state support for addiction rehab, criminal justice, health care, and the lost productivity.
Among the disturbing stats on opioid addiction include:
- 20% to 30% of patients taking painkillers tend to abuse them
- Of that total, between 8 and 12% develop a disorder for painkiller abuse
- Overdose cases shot up by 30% between 2016 and 2017
- Opioid dependents tend to resort to harder drugs like heroin and fentanyl when their doctors no longer issue them a prescription
Meanwhile, the US National Library of Medicine estimated that there are 2 million Americans who are struggling with opioid addiction. The overdose deaths also increased with 72,000 deaths recorded in the US in 2017. In fact, drug overdose is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States, and opioid painkillers claim more than half of the total.
The behavioral changes that a hydrocodone dependent will exhibit are the result of the alteration of the chemical chemistry of the brain. The drug abuser will be preoccupied with getting the drug and prioritize that over everything else. He also tends to court danger as a result, such as going to dangerous corners to buy illicit drugs from street sellers. Drug dependents are also prone to petty crimes like stealing in order to support their addiction.
How Addictive is Hydrocodone?
How do you know that the patient is abusing hydrocodone? If the person is taking more than the recommended dosage of the doctor, then it’s highly likely that he’s abusing it. It doesn’t matter if the intention is legitimate, which is to take away the pain. The person concerned may also ingest the pill beyond the prescribed period.
Like most opioids, hydrocodone not only helps manage the pain, but it also gives the user a euphoric feeling. What it does is to invade your brain’s reward system after interfering with the limbic system and the pain receptors. This is what makes the user develop a dependence on the drug.
You can expect to feel:
- Intense relaxation
- Unexplained happiness
- Decreased anxiety
Increasing your intake will multiply the effects. However, you are also risking overdose if you take hydrocodone beyond the recommendations of the doctor. By the time the user develops a tolerance for the drug, however, it’s much harder to keep them sober. He will need to take more to achieve the same effects.
Signs of Hydrocodone Dependency
There are some warning signs that you can see in a loved one struggling with hydrocodone addiction. Among these signs are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Slowed heartbeat
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Lack of focus
You should also watch out for behavioral changes, like losing interest in his studies or school or work activities or always locking himself inside the room. The main motivation for the user now is when to get the next score. This means that they will likely overlook basic hygiene or just about anything else because they are preoccupied with the drug.
However, there are also long-term effects of prolonged hydrocodone use. For instance, the combination of ingredients like the presence of acetaminophen will target your liver. This is the reason why the government regulates the amount of acetaminophen in Vicodin, Norco, and other kinds of hydrocodone-based medicines.
In extreme instances, the patient may suffer seizure or lapse into a coma when he overdoses on the drug. The other signs of overdose are:
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
- Clammy skin
- Cold skin
- Narrowed pupils
- Slowed heart rate and breathing
- Muscle weakness
What to Do in Case of Hydrocodone Overdose?
If you suspect that your loved one is overdosing on hydrocodone, call 911 immediately so they can dispatch medical rescuers to your site. If the victim is unconscious, make sure the airway is clear. If he’s suffering from a seizure, make sure he doesn’t bump his head on anything hard.
However, there’s an antidote drug called Naloxone, which reverses or blocks the effects of hydrocodone medication. Having one near you can very well save the life of the victim. The government has lifted the restrictions on this drug, which means you can purchase one in emergency cases even without a doctor’s prescription.
In the case of an overdose, give the first dose of this drug before calling 911. If the victim relapses in terms of the dangerous symptoms, give him another dose. The common interval would be two to three minutes. Monitor his situation until medical help arrives.
Types of Hydrocodone and Combination Drugs
Unfortunately, there are still cases of this drug being acquired illegally. Hydrocodone is used as also used as a party drug. It is combined with acetaminophen or ibuprofen in brand names like Vicodin. There are also dangers of overuse in combination products such as Vicodin and more. Below are some of the brands of this medication:
- Vicodin– This drug has 300 mg of acetaminophen combined with it. This may be taken in different dosages depending on the doctor’s prescription. It should be taken no more than every 4 to 6 hours.
- Norco– This drug is usually prescribed in 7.5 mg or 10 mg of Hydrocodone combined with 325 mg of acetaminophen.
- Lortab– To add to the pain-relieving effects of the drug, it is also mixed with acetaminophen. This increases the risk of hydrocodone dependency.
- Zohydro– This drug is a powerful painkiller with reduced risk of liver damage as compared to other brands.
The First Step in Recovery
The first step in recovery is detox. Patients may have different experiences during the period of withdrawal. It is considered one of the most difficult parts of the road to recovery. One of the most common signs is muscle pain in the joints or bones. But some people may also experience nausea, abdominal aches, and sweating. The hardest part is the psychological effect and craving to take the drug.
Managing hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms at home, on your own is not advisable. The symptoms may start as mild and may become intense. Undergoing detox with the help of medical professionals is the best way to manage withdrawal. They can provide round the clock monitoring and provide medications that can lessen the symptoms. Successfully overcoming the withdrawal phase does not guarantee sobriety. This is why you have to undergo other treatment to ensure continuous recovery. This includes outpatient, inpatient, and aftercare.
Managing Withdrawal Symptoms
It is fortunate that hydrocodone treatment is possible, and recovery is easier as compared to past. Without this treatment, many suffered because of the difficulty of managing drug addiction withdrawal without adequate medical supervision. Here are some of the treatments used in managing withdrawal symptoms:
- Detox– This is the first step of recovery when an individual has become addicted to hydrocodone. It provides a safe way to withdraw from the drug so that symptoms are manageable. Also, it manages withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating and muscle aches. It usually takes 7 days to complete the detox procedure.
- Medication– This treatment provides medical management to maintain full recovery after the detox. It can help minimize physical side effects like cravings and it also used to prevent and avoid relapse.
Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment
Hydrocodone is not meant to be taken for long-term use. To prevent addiction, it is best to take the drug as prescribed by your physician. If your pain has lessened, you can let your doctor know so they may decrease the dose or discontinue the drug. If you feel a craving to take the drug, let your doctor know immediately, so they can give you medical advice and check your condition.
Consulting a physician is the primary step of accepting treatment. You will also be assessed and interviewed. This will help complete your record as this will also be used as baseline data. This will help the medical professionals know if your condition is improving during treatment.
Inpatient offers structured treatment programs to assist people who have an addiction. Patients will receive medical care on a regular basis and therapeutic support. This is also effective for those who are having mental problems due to addiction. Another advantage of this treatment is that patients are able to fully focus on their recovery.
Since they are taken away from their regular environment, they also have no exposure to the drug and other temptations. In this treatment program, the patient will meet other people undergoing rehab with the same conditions. They may develop friendships and strong support from peers.
The patient can still work or go to school when partaking in outpatient treatment. This type of treatment is also indicated for those who have mild forms of addiction. Furthermore, some people who went through inpatient rehab continue their treatment and therapy outside through an outpatient program. This ensures continuity of care and follow-up checkup in the part of the healthcare provider.
Partial hospitalization is more intensive than outpatient treatment. This treatment is a short-term procedure and also warrants the patient to attend sessions several times per week for medications and counseling.
The Detox Treatment
First and foremost, medical detox is necessary to flush away the toxins from your body. More than anything else, detox is meant to help the patient manage the withdrawal symptoms. For hydrocodone addiction, the procedure may last from a minimum of one week to a maximum of two weeks.
During the detox treatment, you can expect to experience shaking, nausea and vomiting, trouble sleeping, excessive sweating, runny nose, watery eyes, irritability, muscle aches and cramps, diarrhea, stomach aches and erratic heartbeat
For severe cases, the withdrawal may induce seizures, heart attack, or coma. This is why it’s important that you don’t self-detox. This procedure should always be done under the expert supervision of medical personnel. During the detox procedure, you may be prescribed with substitute drugs to taper off the effects of withdrawal.
Among the drugs typically used by rehab facilities for hydrocodone treatment are:
- Buprenorphine: This drug was approved in 2002 by the FDA to help in the treatment and management of opioid addiction and dependence. This drug is used by dissolving it under the tongue, also known as a sublingual form of drug administration. Buprenorphine is taken 3 times a week. There are two types being used today:
- Subutex: This drug will mimic the effects of hydrocodone, and it has a very low potential for abuse. This will be placed under your tongue until it dissolves.
- Suboxone: This drug is a blend of both Naloxone and Buprenorphine. This is for severe cases, as Naloxone is a drug that reverses the process of overdose.
Both Subutex and Suboxone are two Buprenorphine drugs, which was approved by the US FDA in 2002. However, you also need to limit the cravings, as well, and you may be prescribed with Naltrexone to help with the cravings. The prescription drug is considered an opioid antagonist and works by blocking the opioid receptors.
After the detox process, you will then proceed to the therapy. There are multiple models that drug rehab facilities will pursue.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This will help the patient identify the primary cause of addiction.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – This will help the individual improve his self-esteem and address insecurity issues. He will also identify the emotional triggers that feed the addiction.
- Holistic Therapy – This is considered non-traditional therapy and it focuses on improving the whole person—emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Among the examples are yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, etc.
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy – The patient will be given an incentive or reward for every good deed or milestone.
- Psychodynamic Therapy – Another experimental model that seeks to connect the patient with his subconscious. Again, the idea is to identify the source of the addiction and addressing that will hopefully dissuade the patient from taking the drug in the future.
Addiction Aftercare program
Continuing care is important to have a sustainable sobriety. Your addiction recovery will be useless if you return to using drugs. This is why there are aftercare services that help recovering individuals build a healthy life after rehab.
Aftercare begins after the completion of a recovery or drug addiction treatment program. But, for the healthcare provider, it starts from the moment the patient enters rehab. The treatment staff will identify necessary equipment tools and activities that will help you through the duration of the treatment and during aftercare.
The main goal of aftercare is to keep the patient active in their recovery program as they prepare going back to society. Aftercare can:
- Provide access to groups and support persons that can help the clients in their recovery
- Teach you to identify triggers and learn to avoid them to prevent relapsing
- Teach the right way to deal with relapse and avoid destructive behavior
- Educate clients about healthy lifestyle and relationships
Get Sober Today
Hydrocodone rehab is an effective treatment for addiction. Understanding hydrocodone addiction and hydrocodone dependency can avoid dangerous effects and prevent worst scenarios. You should also know the things needed before making a decision to go to a rehabilitation center.
Rehabilitation services are open 24 hours a day and you can even access treatment centers online. If you have questions about treatment, you can also inquire by contacting a treatment center and setting up an appointment.
Medical detox and drug addiction treatment can make it easier to recover from addiction. The beginning of recovery is stepping into rehab and accepting the situation. There will be different steps, but it will be worth it in the end. Treatment should not be done alone, there are services who are willing to help and assist patients toward sobriety.
If you or your loved ones are suffering in any kind of drug addiction, seeking help and deciding on a treatment service as early as possible is important to avoid worsening of the condition.