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Is Hydrocodone an Opioid?


Hydrocodone is a drug containing opiate and acetaminophen, and is most commonly found in the form of Viocdin and Lortab. It is an opioid, similar to Oxycodone, but has it’s own set of dangerous and addictive properties.

How Hydrocodone Works

Hydrocodone changes the brain’s perception of pain. It is most often prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain, whether due to an injury or to regulate chronic pain.

Like other opioids, hydrocodone is highly addictive. Opiates function by attaching themselves to opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in an inability to process the feelings of pain. They physically change the way the brain functions by altering the balance of chemicals in the brain to adapt to the presence of the drug. The body will then respond by changing the way it functions. Opiates also impact the pleasure center of the brain, often resulting in euphoric sensations. This sensation can lead a person to start using the drug recreationally. Eventually, the euphoria lessens because the body develops tolerance to the drug. After developing tolerance, the drug inhibits the body’s natural creation of positive feelings. At that point, people begin to rely on the drug to avoid negative feelings rather than to get the euphoric high that they once sought.

Prolonged misuse of hydrocodone will result in addiction.

Hydrocodone and Addiction

Before a person can become addicted to any drug, they have to first abuse the drug, and then become tolerant of the drug. Tolerance is when a person’s body cannot function properly without the drug in their system. When a person is abusing hydrocodone, they may experience feelings of fear, depression, confusion, headaches, sleepiness, blurred vision, and/or ringing in the ears. At this point in the cycle, a person begins to need a higher dose of the drug in order to achieve the same results or to function normally. It is at this point that it becomes critical to seek help. As negative symptoms progress, the drug’s hold on the body becomes stronger and harder to break. The sooner a person receives help, the easier it will be to overcome the negative side effects.

A person is addicted to opiates if they experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug isn’t in their system. Withdrawal symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, chills, and achiness.

More signs of addiction include: needing more before the next refill is due, obsessing over getting and using the drug, engaging in reckless or dangerous behavior, participating in illegal activities to get more of the drug, and/or turning to cheaper forms of the drug in order to maintain your supply.

Hydrocodone addiction comes with a high risk of overdose. Because a person needs more and more of the drug to get high, the chances of overdose are higher and higher. Symptoms of overdose include generalized muscle weakness, slow breathing, decreased heart rate, cold skin, profound sleepiness, loss of consciousness, and death.

Help with Hydrocodone Addiction

There is hope for full recovery from hydrocodone addiction. In order to achieve the most success, it is always recommended to seek help from a professional. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are painful and the entire process is often unpleasant. However, professionals can help recovering addicts through every step of the detoxification and withdrawal process, and can offer a safe space to aid in recovery.

There are two options for receiving professional help with a hydrocodone (or any other opioid) addiction:

  1. Check-in to a rehab center and enroll in an inpatient rehabilitation program. These usually last a minimum of 28 days, and allow a person to focus completely on their sobriety without facing temptation in the outside world. In this type of setting, a person will not have to think about or deal with daily distractions until they are in a proper mindset to do so. Another benefit of inpatient rehab is that it offers a medically supervised detox in a safe and secure place where symptoms can be monitored and managed by professionals.
  1. Outpatient treatment is the second option. This is where a recovering addict participates in daily counseling and other professional services for several hours each day during the withdrawal period. Finding a program that works for each individual and their needs is imperative to achieving lasting results of sobriety and full recovery.

Related: Hydrocodone vs. Oxycodone