Hydrocodone – What is it and Why is it So Addictive?
Hydrocodone is an opioid drug that is in a class of similar drugs known clinically as narcotic analgesics. These drugs connect to proteins in the brain and spinal cord called opioid receptors. Doctors prescribe hydrocodone for pain management, often after surgery or for patients who are dealing with chronic pain issues.
Hydrocodone is a widely prescribed pain reliever and it is sold under the more familiar brand name Vicodin. This drug combines hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone can be very effective, but it can also become habit-forming.
If your doctor prescribes hydrocodone for you, you can take steps to avoid serious complications from hydrocodone addiction. First, though, you must understand why and how hydrocodone becomes addictive and the signs and symptoms of hydrocodone addiction.
Opioids like hydrocodone disrupt pain signals that are heading to the brain and cause pain relief, which allow a patient to rest and heal. When used as prescribed by a physician and only a short period of time, hydrocodone is usually safe and effective. However, if it is used for any extended period of time, it can become addictive and dangerous.
Since opioids like hydrocodone also can provide feelings of euphoria, some people end up abusing this powerful prescription drug. Over time, continued use of hydrocodone causes a patient to build a tolerance to the drug. This means your body needs more of the drug to feel the same effects.
Symptoms of Hydrocodone Addiction
The symptoms of hydrocodone addiction can be different for each person who abuses it Common symptoms can include:
- Depression & anxiety
- Slowed heartbeat & or breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Light headedness or dizziness or light headedness
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Blurred vision
- Sweaty, clammy skin
- Difficulty sleeping
- Overall physical weakness
Treating Hydrocodone Addiction
New Life Medical Addiction Services specializes in treating addiction to hydrocodone and other opioid-based prescription and non-prescription drugs. New Life’s doctors and clinicians are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to meet with patients and to evaluate their condition. Once we have evaluated a patient, we can begin treating them. Usually, this begins within 24 hours of them contacting us.
Our treatments for Hydrocodone misuse and addiction include medication assisted treatment (MAT) using FDA-approved medications such as buprenorphine and naltrexone and their derivatives. These medications are effective at blocking or reducing the cravings for opioids like Hydrocodone.
Once a patient has begun their medication assisted treatment with us, New Life then initiates counseling and behavioral therapies, which helps the patient understand the source of their addictive behavior and increases the chances of a successful and sustained recovery.
Medicines That Treat Hydrocodone Addiction and Abuse
Buprenorphine and Naltrexone are two of the medicines that the physicians at New Life use to treat Hydrocodone misuse and addiction.
Buprenorphine acts to lessen withdrawal symptoms and the desire for opioids and works by acting on the same targets in the brain as other opioids without making a person feel high. Some people become concerned that if they take buprenorphine, it means that they are substituting one addiction for another. This is not the case. Under the supervision of the doctors at New Life, these therapies restore balance to the parts of the brain affected by addiction, which allows your brain to heal while you work toward recovery.
There is also a combination drug that includes buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is a drug to treat an opioid overdose. If a patient takes it along with buprenorphine, they become less likely to misuse the buprenorphine.
Naltrexone works in a different way from buprenorphine. While it does not reduce cravings for opioids or withdrawal symptoms, it takes away the high that a patient gets when they take opioids. As a result, naltrexone is highly effective in preventing a relapse. One caveat is that patients need to be off opioids like hydrocodone for at least 7-10 days before they can take naltrexone. Otherwise, bad withdrawal symptoms are a possibility
Counseling for Hydrocodone Misuse and Addiction
New Life has licensed certified mental health specialists and licensed certified drug and alcohol councilors on staff to provide counseling to our patients in recovery. These trained professionals are skilled at helping people better understand the root causes of their addictions and to help them stick with their recovery by changing their attitudes and behaviors towards drug use and by helping them adopt healthy life skills.
The kinds of counseling that New Life offers include:
- Individual counseling, which can include discussing the problems and stresses which could have been the trigger for the opioid misuse. It can also include setting goals, talking about setbacks, and celebrating the progress a patient has made in the path to recovery.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps our patients recognize the negative patterns of thinking and behavior which lead to their addiction and reveals ways to change that behavior. It also provides the kind of coping skills that helps our patients manage stress and change the thoughts that cause them to want to misuse opioids.
- Group counseling, which gives our patients a chance to learn about the difficulties and challenges others are having and to illuminate strategies for dealing with the situations they may come across.
- Family counseling, which includes partners or spouses and other family members who are close to the patient. Family counseling can be a critical step in the healing process when bad or disruptive behavior has damaged family relationships.
- Peer coaching where staff members who have had their own problems with alcoholism and alcohol abuse can provide insight through their own experiences.