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Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone, sold under the brand name of Vicodin, is a very popular pharmaceutical prescribed by doctors for the purpose of managing pain or suppressing cough. Hydrocodone is an opiate, putting it in the same classification as morphine and heroin. Just like other forms of opiates, addiction forms quickly, usually without the addicted individual even realizing it. A prescription for hydrocodone is very easy to obtain. A simple complaint of back pain will often coerce some doctors into prescribing the drug. There are even individuals on pain management programs who are prescribed this medication consistently. Unfortunately, if these individuals were ever forced to stop, they would suffer severe and debilitating withdrawal symptoms, as hydrocodone is one of the worst substances from which to have to withdrawal.

Hydrocodone Statistics

  • 1. Hydrocodone is used in over 200 different prescription medications, including some cough suppresants.
  • 2. Most cases of addiction are among women between the ages of twenty and forty years old.
  • 3. It only takes 15 mg of hydrocodone to produce the same effect as 10 mg of morphine.
  • 4. Cases of hydrocodone addiction are growing among teens due to the ease of availability.


Addiction can be described as substance or activity that causes negative consequences in a person's life which the addicted person refuses to cease even in the face of these consequences. There are two types of addiction in general - physical addiction and psychological addiction. Physical addiction is the physical need for the drug to stave off withdrawal symptoms. Psychological addiction is the individual's psychological desire to take the drug for it's desirable effects. In the case of hydrocodone dependence, both the psychological and physical addiction are very strong.

The signs and symptoms of hydrocodone dependence are as follows:

1. The first sign of addiction to hydrocodone is when the individual begins taking more of the medication than is prescribed. Running out of a prescription early is a good sign there is a problem.

2. Hiding the pills from concerned individuals is another warning sign a problem exists.

3. If the individual is stealing or pawning items in order to raise money for more medication, this is a sure sign the individual has moved into the addiction state of hydrocodone.

4. Doctor manipulation or "doctor shopping," is the practice of visiting several doctors complaining of the same ailment in an attempt to score multiple prescriptions for the medication.

5. Frequent claims of lost or stolen pills or frequent visits to the doctor insisting on more medication usually results in the doctor prescribing less of the medication or ceasing it altogether. In this case, the individual may then attempt to purchase the drug off the streets.

6. The addicted person will often become obsessed with the drug and begin hoarding the pills, resulting in a rather large supply.

7. Loss of appetite and insomnia are two classic symptoms of hydrocodone addiction.

8. When the individual stops taking the medication, withdrawal symptoms will occur.

9. When a concerned loved one asks about the addicted person's use of the medication, typically that person will become angry, argumentative, and sometimes even violent.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms will begin approximately six to ten hours after the last time the drug was taken and can be very severe depending on how much of the drug has been taken for what length of time. These withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • 1. Anxiety and Irritability
  • 2. Intense Cravings
  • 3. Flu-Like Symptoms
  • 4. Muscle Cramps, Pain, Achiness
  • 5. Stomach Cramps
  • 6. Loss of Appetite
  • 7. Diarrhea
  • 8. Sleep Disturbance
  • 9. Depression

There Is Hope

Even in the face of this seemingly insurmountable obstacle called addiction, there is hope. The physical addiction only lasts about a week, sometimes two in rare cases, normally reaching it's peak at around the three-day mark. The effects of the withdrawal symptoms can be greatly reduced if the addict tapers off the drug slowly, but due to the temptation of the drug and the nature of addiction, this may only be successful if managed by a doctor or drug rehab facility. Even though the psychological addiction can last months or even years, this is an easier aspect of the addiction to handle compared to the physical addiction. Counseling, support groups, a 12-Step Program, and support from friends and family can help an individual through the psychological addiction phase.

Recovery is possible. Many, many people have found recovery and live full, rich lives after opiate addiction. An individual seeking recovery from opiate addiction will need to enlist the help of others to see them through.


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