When you think of addiction, you probably think of alcohol or certain substances like cocaine, heroin or even prescription pills. It is not a wonder why – these are among the most abused drugs in the United States and around the world today. However, with the rising frequency of opioid addictions and related deaths, have you heard about hydrocodone addiction?
It may not be as common as the common ones you think of, but it among the most serious addictions – it is an opioid drug, making its effects similar to those of prescription pills and heroin.
What is hydrocodone?
This is an opioid drug, which is widely popular as a pain reliever. You may not have heard of its name, but you may have heard of its alternative term Vicodin, which is a form of the drug combined with acetaminophen and hydrocodone.
The substance is actually very effective, but it comes at a cost – the potential to become addictive is also very high. In the event that your doctor prescribes the substance to you, then you must take active measures to prevent the habit-forming results of this drug.
The most important thing is to find out what makes the drug so addictive, and learn to recognize the signs of its addiction quickly.
Addiction to hydrocodone
The specific class of this drug is narcotic analgesics, which is a class of opiate drugs that bind to specific proteins in the spinal cord and brain, called opioid receptors. The result is that they interfere with the pain perception of the brain, because they divert the pain signals. This changes your perception and emotional reaction to pain.
This does not mean they are bad. As long as they used properly, according to the strict instructions you are given and for a short time, it is usually effective and safe.
The bad news is that some people become addicted to the euphoric feeling the drug gives them. They start to take it outside of the prescription limits, and this creates a tolerance in your body. This means that the body begins to need more of that drug to experience the same effects, and this leads to the murky results of addiction.
What are the signs of addiction?
The major sign is a slowing heart rate, but there are other symptoms as well. They include nausea, lightheadedness or dizziness, vomiting, confusion, headaches, seizures, depressive symptoms and fear, as well as blurry vision and constant ringing in the ears.
Staying away from hydrocodone addiction
It is not very difficult or complicated to stop hydrocodone addiction before it begins – only to make sure that you are taking the medication strictly according to the dose and timing your doctor prescribes to you.
In addition, you must record your intake in a diary when you are taking the drug, and record the pain you are feeling before and after taking it. From time to time, review the diary to see if there is any progress, and know if there are changes you need to make.
If you notice that the pain has decreased, then make sure your doctor knows about it, regardless of whether the prescription has run out or not. The doctor will take notice of this and try to reduce the dose gradually, and they can even have you stop taking it sooner than expected.
Another important thing to note: when you notice you are beginning to crave the drug even when you do not feel any pain or when the pain is not significant, inform your doctor immediately. That is already a major warning sign that you are beginning to get addicted to the substance.
Treatment of hydrocodone addiction
In the event you find yourself taking larger doses than usual or taking the drug for a longer time than prescribed, that is already telling you that you have an addiction to the substance. Make sure to inform your doctor immediately this happens.
The doctor does not always completely eliminate the medication suddenly, as they may reduce it slowly. This is because the sudden stop will lead to severe withdrawal symptoms that are similar to those of other opioid drugs. They include anxiety, muscle pain and aches, irritability, insomnia, and unusual levels of sweating.
In case you feel that you cannot quit on your own, you do not need to fear – you are not alone in that. Plenty of programs we exist to help you recover from the addiction, no matter how mild or severe it is. There are some rehab programs that will use additional medication that helps in making the withdrawal process easier, while others will not.
The most effective approach will depend on several factors, as there is no standard approach that works for everyone – even though they all follow some basic principles. The main factor will be the severity and nature of the addiction itself, since long term addictions will need longer recovery periods compared to milder cases.
All programs you select should also include a mental health assessment. This may seem strange, but many people who suffer from various alcohol and substance abuse issues also have depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. There is also the approach of support groups, both during and after the recovery stage. They help to keep you accountable, and prevent relapses from occurring in future.
Keep in close touch with your doctor
The drug by itself is not a bad one, because you will need some relief from your pain sometimes. However, since it carries a high risk of addiction, you need to talk to your doctor both before and during prescription times.
Addiction, whether to hydrocodone or any other substance, is a complicated issue that will interfere with your life, relationships, and even health. If you are worried about becoming addicted, talk to the doctor at length about your concerns. In addition, do not shy away from talking about previous medical issues you have experienced, because the doctor can prescribe alternatives.