- Powered by American Addiction Centers

Hydrocodone Use and Abuse

Hydrocodone is an active ingredient in a number of pain relief and cough medications. The substance is a morphine-like drug, classified as an opioid analgesic.1 As such, it can be both addictive and cause an overdose if too much is taken at once. Recovery from hydrocodone overdose often includes time in an inpatient recovery center, where an addicted user can get help in the removal of all traces of the drug from the body as well as counseling that will aid in the avoidance of future drug use.2, 3

About Hydrocodone

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there were approximately 2.8 million first-time illicit drug users ages 12 and older who used the drug during the year before the survey was taken.4 Nearly 20 percent of these users chose a pain relief medication as the first drug to try. Unfortunately, medications containing hydrocodone can be extremely dangerous when it comes to overdose possibilities, primarily because with the mixture of active ingredients, including acetaminophen, the user faces an overdose danger not just from the hydrocodone but also from the other ingredients contained in the medication.5

Hydrocodone is highly addictive, and with continued use of the drug, tolerance grows. With a higher tolerance level, higher doses of the drug are required to achieve the desired effects. Eventually a dosage level may be reached which is too high for the user’s body to safely handle, and a hydrocodone overdose may occur.6 For help with an addiction to hydrocodone, call to speak to a knowledgeable operator who can aid you in locating an addiction recovery facility that fits your particular needs.

Hydrocodone Overdose Treatment

A hydrocodone overdose can have severe consequences, as too much can cause the user to stop breathing completely. An overdose should be treated immediately. Users of medications containing hydrocodone, or family and friends of users, should be aware of symptoms that may indicate that an overdose has occurred. These symptoms include:7

  • Cold, clammy skin.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Slow heart rate.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Cardiac arrest.

“After the overdose itself is treated, a program of addiction rehab and recovery treatment for the hydrocodone addiction generally follows.”Users should keep in mind that hydrocodone is only one of the active ingredients in any medication in which it is found. The other active ingredients can result in an overdose as well. These related overdoses may have an entirely different set of symptoms, so any extraordinary reaction to the ingestion of the drug should be treated as an emergency, and immediate medical attention should be sought.

Hydrocodone overdose treatment may include pumping the stomach to remove as much of the drug from the system as possible. Medical personnel may also induce vomiting or give the patient activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of the medication into the bloodstream. Naloxone or Narcan may also be given as an antidote to the hydrocodone.8 Any symptoms that occur due to the overdose will be treated as well, as early treatment helps to prevent long-lasting adverse effects. After the overdose itself is treated, a program of addiction rehab and recovery treatment for the hydrocodone addiction generally follows.

An Inpatient Recovery Center That Works for You

The best inpatient hydrocodone overdose recovery centers are those that tailor each specific treatment program around the individual user. While the detox process is fairly standard, the counseling that takes place afterward is usually the determinant of how good the recovery center actually is.

After detox is completed, the best inpatient recovery centers offer intense drug counseling or therapy on both a one-on-one and group basis. Successful counseling is twofold. It attempts to get to the root of the drug use to deal with any lingering issues that may move the user to abuse hydrocodone again. In addition, it provides the necessary skill set that allows the user to deal with future temptations for drug abuse.

The best inpatient recovery centers also offer flexibility in treatment program length. While most programs offer a standard length, usually 28 or 30 days, the best programs allow users to extend their stay so they can work towards their recovery at their own pace. This provides patients with the best chances of a successful recovery from hydrocodone overdose as well as addiction. To locate a recovery center that fits your particular needs, call to speak to someone who can help you get started on your drug-free future.

[1]. Julien, R.N., et al. (2011). Opioid Analgesics. A Primer of Drug Action: A comprehensive guide to the actions, uses, and side effects of psychoactive drugs. Twelfth Edition. New York, NY: Worth Publishers. pp. 315-358.

[2]. Polydorou, S, and Kleber, H.D. (2008). Detoxification of Opioids. In Galanter, M., and Kleber, H.D., Editors. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment. Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., pages 265-288.

[3]. Weiss, R.D., et al (2009). Inpatient Treatment. In Galanter, M., and Kleber, H. D. Editors. The American Psychtiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment. Fourth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., pages 445-458.

[4]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (MSDUH): Summary of National Findings.

[5]. King, J.P. et al. (2015). Variability in Acetaminophen Labeling Practices: a Missed Opportunity to Enhance Patient Safety. J Med Toxicol 11(10): 410-4.

[6]. Koob, G.F., and Le Moal, M. (2006). 4. Opioids. Neurobiology of Addiction. Boston, MA: Elsevier. pp. 121-171.

[7]. Tetrault, J.M., and O’Connor, P.G. (2009). Management of Opioid Intoxication and Withdrawal. In Ries, R.K., et al. Editors. Principles of Addiction Medicine. Fourth Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, pages 589-606).

[8]. Clark, A., et al. (2016). Implementation of an inpatient opioid overdose prevention program. Addictive Behaviors 53: 141-145.