Let’s get right into the signs and symptoms of hydro drug abuse, its dangerous side effects, and the treatment options that can help you toward recovery.
What Is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is an opioid that doctors prescribe to relieve pain in certain patients. You may have heard it referred to as “hydro.” Hydrocodone combination products, which mix hydrocodone and acetaminophen, are also known by brand names, such as Vicodin and Lortab.
Typically, patients who experience moderate to severe pain use prescription drugs like hydrocodone to feel relief. Doctors commonly prescribe hydrocodone for patients who have just had surgery, experience chronic pain, or are struggling with an injury.
However, hydro is highly addictive and habit forming, meaning that it’s much harder for patients to stop taking the medication once they start. Additionally, hydrocodone is classified as a narcotic analgesic. Narcotic analgesics are meant to block pain receptors from sending signals going off in certain parts of your body to your brain, meaning that they effectively stop you from feeling pain.
Taking hydro, both legally and illegally, dulls your senses by blocking these pain receptors. This is one of the reasons why narcotic analgesics like hydrocodone are so addictive; they cause your body to crave the feeling of being “high” and relaxed.
In the United States, addiction to opioids like hydrocodone is an epidemic. This is a substance use disorder that affects millions of people and kills tens of thousands of users each year.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that there are key differences between:
- Building a tolerance to hydrocodone
- Becoming dependent on hydrocodone
- And struggling with an addiction to hydrocodone
So how do you know if you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to hydro or another prescription drug vs. one of these other experiences? Here are some signs to look out for.
Signs of Hydro Drug Abuse
Because the hydro drug is so powerful, especially when it consists of hydrocodone and acetaminophen together, your body is going to have to adjust to the feeling of using the drug. For this reason, it’s common for people to feel a significant “high” from hydrocodone initially, then need more and more of the drug for that same feeling.
Sometimes, long-term usage of even a small dose of hydrocodone can cause your body to build up a tolerance to the drug. This means that you will probably need more frequent, high doses of hydrocodone to feel its effects. But this doesn’t mean that you are addicted, necessarily.
For example, if you experience chronic pain and have been taking hydrocodone for a long period of time, if you try to stop taking the medication, your body might go into withdrawal. In this case, your body is dependent even if you are not psychologically addicted to it.
The National Institute of Mental Health defines substance use disorder as a mental illness. This is one of the key differences between drug tolerance and dependence vs. addiction. On top of that, those with underlying mental health conditions are even more at-risk for developing addiction.
Now that you know the difference between tolerance and dependency, let’s take a look at common symptoms of addiction:
- Taking more than the prescribed dose of hydrocodone
- Feeling constant cravings
- Using hydrocodone for reasons other than pain (getting high)
- Taking the drug to cope with emotional distress, trauma, or mental health conditions
- “Doctor hopping” to find one who will prescribe high doses of hydrocodone
- Drastic behavioral changes (lying, stealing, etc.)
- Consuming the pill through other means (crushing, snorting, or injecting)
If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, you might have a hydro drug addiction and should seek help right away to avoid the life-threatening side effects.
Short- and Long-Term Side Effects
There are very dangerous short- and long-term side effects that can happen after taking this habit-forming hydro drug.
The short-term effects of taking hydrocodone include:
- Altered mental state
- Dry mouth
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or constipation
- Changes in breathing patterns
- Decreased flow of oxygen to the brain
Additionally, hydrocodone combination products can cause the symptoms listed above and more, such as:
- Mood changes
- Increased anxiety
Long-term side effects to using hydrocodone and hydrocodone combination products, in addition to the risk of addiction, can be life-threatening.
Here’s what some of the long-term side effects look like:
- Decreased lung capacity
- Liver and kidney damage
- Narcotic bowel syndrome
Not only is your physical health at stake when you struggle with a hydrocodone addiction, but your mental health is as well. Be sure to seek medical advice from your physician and trusted mental health professionals if you are experiencing any of the symptoms on these lists.
Hydro Drug Addiction Treatment Centers
Hydrocodone addiction is challenging to beat, but recovery is possible with the right kind of addiction treatment.
When you are looking into treatment centers for any substance use disorder, you will want to make sure that you find a place that is right for you.
Your addiction recovery should first include a medically supervised detox program to protect you from the intense withdrawal symptoms you might experience. These withdrawal symptoms vary from deep bone pain, to sleep difficulties, to uncontrollable muscle twitches.
Secondly, your addiction treatment program should prioritize taking care of your mental health just as much as your physical health. You might need a dual diagnosis program or intensive inpatient care to properly heal, for example.
Therapy, group counseling, recreational activities, and addiction education are also important aspects in healing your mental health so that you have the skills you need to battle addiction long after you leave the treatment center.
Lastly, your addiction recovery program should leave you with the tools and confidence to maintain sobriety and stay in good health. Things like alumni services and community outreach assistance will help you to stay on your recovery path for the rest of this new life you will lead.
Your Addiction Treatment Can Begin Today
We understand how frightening having a substance use disorder and mental health struggles can be. This is why we have created specially designed programs to help with whatever you might need.
Reach out to us for assistance today by calling 1-888-512-9802 or by filling out our online (and confidential) form.
-  Center for Disease Control and Prevention "Prescription Opioids."Accessed 04 May 2020.https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/prescribed.html.
-  United States Department of Health and Human Services "What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic?"Accessed 04 May 2020.https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html
-  National Institute of Mental Health "Substance Use and Mental Health."Accessed 04 May 2020.https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-use-and-mental-health/index.shtml
-  MedlinePlus "Hydrocodone."Accessed 04 May 2020.https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a614045.html
-  MedlinePlus "Hydrocodone Combination Products."Accessed 04 May 2020.https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601006.html
-  Grunkemeier, David M.S., Cassara, Joseph E., Dalton, Christine B., Drossman, Douglas A. National Institute of Mental Health "The Narcotic Bowel Syndrome: Clinical Features, Pathophysiology and Management."Accessed 04 May 2020.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2074872/