Hydrocodone is not only the most commonly prescribed but also the most frequently abused opioid medication in the United States. While it’s no secret that it is highly addictive, millions of Americans still take this drug to alleviate pain. Sadly, many of them find themselves struggling to stop taking it due to uncomfortable—and often painful—hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms.
Nonetheless, recovery from hydrocodone dependence is possible. Hydrocodone detox is the first and one of the most important steps toward resuming an opioid-free life.
What Is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain that cannot be managed with non-opioid pain relievers, such as that experienced after surgery or due to cancer.
As a semi-synthetic opioid, hydrocodone is usually derived from codeine, an opioid used to relieve mild to moderate pain or suppress coughing. However, hydrocodone is about six times more potent and has a higher potential for abuse and addiction than codeine.
This medication is often prescribed as a combined drug containing acetaminophen, though it also comes by itself in an extended-release formula.
With over 30 million prescriptions issued to around 8.5 million patients in 2020, hydrocodone/acetaminophen is the most commonly prescribed opioid medication in the United States. It is available as a generic and brand-name drug.
Most often, this combination is marketed under the names of:
Like all opioids, hydrocodone alters the perception of pain by interacting with opioid receptors and inhibiting pain signals from reaching the brain. It also causes the body to release dopamine, leading to euphoria and a sense of relaxation. This alone can lead people to abuse hydrocodone and develop an opioid addiction.
Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms
Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms occur when people dependent on this drug cut down on their hydrocodone use or stop taking it altogether. In other words, these symptoms are a sign of hydrocodone dependence and/or hydrocodone addiction.
Hydrocodone promotes the production of opioid receptors, causing you to develop a tolerance to the drug. Eventually, you won’t feel the effects of hydrocodone unless you increase your dose. Moreover, if you abruptly stop taking it or take a smaller amount than usual, your body won’t be able to function normally and will enter a state of hydrocodone withdrawal.
Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological.
The most common physical hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are:
- Dilated pupils
- High blood pressure
- Muscle pain
- Raised body temperature
- Rapid heartbeat
- Runny nose
- Sore joints
- Stomach ache
- Watery eyes
The most common psychological symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include:
- Hydrocodone cravings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Intense mood swings
Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline
The hydrocodone withdrawal timeline and the intensity of withdrawal symptoms vary from one person to the next. In addition to individual factors such as age, body composition, and liver condition, this depends on:
- The hydrocodone formulation
- The method used to take the drug
- The extent of your hydrocodone use
With that in mind, let’s break down the typical hydrocodone withdrawal timeline.
If you’re using short-acting hydrocodone, you can expect the onset of hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms to begin within 6–12 hours after the last dose. Meanwhile, it may take up to 24 hours for long-acting hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms to appear.
On the first day of hydrocodone withdrawal, you may experience:
- Muscle pain
- Stomach ache
- Excessive sweating
- Flu-like symptoms
The withdrawal symptoms of short-acting hydrocodone usually peak around 72 hours after taking the last dose. However, if you take long-acting hydrocodone, they may peak later.
Your physical withdrawal symptoms may become more intense during this time. Besides them, you may also experience intense cravings for hydrocodone, sleep disturbances, and similar psychological symptoms.
After reaching their peak, acute hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms begin to fade away and usually subside within the first week after quitting short-acting hydrocodone. Long-acting hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms may take longer to subside.
Regardless of the drug formula, you may experience intense psychological withdrawal symptoms during this time, including depression, cravings, and anxiety, which means you may still be vulnerable to relapse.
Hydrocodone Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome(PAWS)
Hydrocodone post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) refers to protracted withdrawal symptoms.
In most cases, acute hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms disappear in a little over a week. However, for some people, these symptoms may continue for weeks, months, or even years after quitting hydrocodone. Needless to say, PAWS can make you susceptible to relapse.
Symptoms of PAWS are mostly psychological, causing or exacerbating mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. While post-acute withdrawal symptoms can be physical, this is far less common.
However, PAWS doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. Reversing the changes in brain chemistry caused by opioid use is key to overcoming hydrocodone addiction and lingering hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms.
How to Manage Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms
Hydrocodone withdrawal is a potentially life-threatening condition, which is why you should work with your doctor to manage Norco® withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms are what keep most opioid users from getting clean. It’s not unusual for people to take hydrocodone just to avoid the pain associated with hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms.
So, while some home remedies may alleviate your discomfort, going through the hydrocodone withdrawal process alone puts you at a high risk of relapse. This can not only set back your recovery from hydrocodone addiction but also lead to a potentially fatal opioid overdose.
Furthermore, if left untreated, hydrocodone withdrawal can lead to death. While it happens rarely, there’s still a chance to become severely dehydrated due to diarrhea and vomiting.
To help you manage your hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms, your doctor will prepare a hydrocodone tapering schedule for you. Tapering off hydrocodone allows your body to gradually adjust to smaller doses of the drug until you’re ready to stop taking it.
Risks and Dangers of Taking Hydrocodone
Developing an opioid addiction is by far the greatest danger of taking hydrocodone. As effective as this drug is for pain treatment, anyone taking it is exposed to the risk of becoming addicted to it—even those who carefully follow their doctor’s instructions.
Moreover, hydrocodone carries a very high risk of opioid abuse. The 2021 NSDUH Annual National Report reveals that a staggering 4 million Americans misused hydrocodone products in the past year, making it the most commonly misused prescription painkiller.
Unfortunately, misusing this drug (e.g., taking more than prescribed or mixing it with alcohol or other substances) can lead to an opioid overdose, coma, and death.
On top of that, hydrocodone can cause various side effects, including:
- Dry mouth
- Itchy skin
- Lip, face, and tongue swelling
- Breathing difficulties
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stiff muscles
- Urinary problems
Hydrocodone/acetaminophen combination can also lead to liver damage and isn’t recommended for people with impaired liver function.
How to Detox From Hydrocodone
Medical detox is one way to detox from hydrocodone. By going through hydrocodone withdrawal under medical supervision, you can increase your chances of successfully clearing out the drug from your system, which is the point of hydrocodone detox.
Another hydrocodone detox option is hydrocodone rapid detox. This is a method of quickly eliminating opioids from your system with the use of anesthesia and opioid blockers, such as naloxone, which help initiate hydrocodone withdrawal.
However, hydrocodone detox isn’t a cure for hydrocodone addiction. Since detox doesn’t eliminate the root cause of addiction, it often leads to relapse.
Meanwhile, Accelerated Neuro-Regulation (ANR) is an opioid addiction treatment that, in addition to helping you safely and quickly eliminate hydrocodone from your body, reverses the brain changes caused by opioids. In doing so, it can help you overcome hydrocodone addiction and break free from the fear of relapse.
Hydrocodone Rapid Detox vs. ANR Treatment
Unlike hydrocodone rapid detox, the ANR treatment is effective because it addresses the neurobiological causes of opioid addiction.
Although rapid detox might seem like a quick fix for hydrocodone dependency, it comes with many risks. These include potentially life-threatening side effects, relapse, poor quality, ineffective, or unsafe treatment due to a lack of regulations and experienced medical staff.
Meanwhile, ANR doesn’t lead to side effects because it is tailored to each patient’s unique medical history. On top of that, it is always performed in an ICU setting by highly experienced medical staff, including critical care nurses, anesthesiologists, etc., ensuring maximum safety.
Most importantly, ANR targets the underlying cause of opioid addiction—the opioid-induced chemical brain imbalance—thereby negating the risk of relapse.
ANR Opioid Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction
If you’re seeking a safe and effective way to overcome hydrocodone dependency, consider undergoing the ANR treatment, which has helped over 24,000 people worldwide lead an opioid-free life.
Accelerated Neuro-Regulation (ANR) is the only currently available medical treatment that is capable of bringing the endorphin-receptor imbalance in the body back to healthy levels. Since the ANR treatment deals with the root cause behind hydrocodone dependency, it is highly effective.
ANR allows patients to recover from opiate withdrawal, abuse, and addiction in as little as a few days. ANR patients can, consequently, return to their daily lives without fear of further physical withdrawal symptoms or relapse.
ANR Clinic has healthcare facilities in:
- DeSoto Memorial Hospital, Arcadia, Florida
- ANR Europe Thun, Switzerland
- New Vision University Hospital, Tbilisi, Georgia
To get started with the ANR treatment, contact us to schedule a free consultation!
If there’s one thing you should remember, it’s that you should never try to quit hydrocodone without medical help. Hydrocodone withdrawal is a potentially life-threatening condition, and it should be treated as such.
Now, let’s recap the key points we discussed:
- Hydrocodone is a potent opioid that can alleviate moderate and severe pain, but it can also lead to abuse and addiction.
- Hydrocodone withdrawal timeline usually starts with physical symptoms that fade away fairly quickly, but psychological hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are more likely to linger.
- Accelerated Neuro-Regulation (ANR) is an innovative opioid dependence treatment that can help you overcome hydrocodone addiction without the risk of side effects, relapse, or PAWS.
Hydrocodone Withdrawal & Detox FAQ
The most common withdrawal symptoms of coming off hydrocodone are muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, intense hydrocodone cravings, and elevated blood pressure. These symptoms may also be accompanied by anxiety, depression, and other psychological withdrawal symptoms.
No, hydrocodone and Vicodin® aren’t the same, though they are very similar. The key difference is that, unlike hydrocodone, Vicodin® is a combined medication composed of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Due to acetaminophen, Vicodin® is more likely to damage the liver than hydrocodone.
Yes, hydrocodone can cause opioid use disorder (OUD). This prescription opioid medication is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance because of its high potential for abuse and addiction.
Usually, the hydrocodone withdrawal process begins within 6–12 hours after the last dose. However, this is heavily influenced by your physical make-up, mental health, and level of dependence/addiction to the substance.
Some warning signs of hydrocodone addiction are taking the drug at larger doses, longer, or more frequently than prescribed, spending a lot of time on obtaining, using, and recovering from hydrocodone, experiencing intense opioid cravings, and neglecting your work or family responsibilities due to hydrocodone use.
No, hydrocodone is stronger than tramadol, which is generally considered a relatively weak opioid. However, both hydrocodone and tramadol can still lead to opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose.
Hydrocodone stays in your system for 19–24 hours on average. However, this may vary depending on the drug’s formulation and various individual factors, such as your metabolic rate, age, and duration of hydrocodone use.
Yes, you can fully detox from hydrocodone. It usually takes around a week for acute hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms to subside. However, the ANR treatment can help you eliminate hydrocodone from your system and conquer opioid addiction in a matter of days.
Accelerated Neuro-Regulation (ANR) is a revolutionary opioid addiction treatment that can help you break free from opioid dependence safely, quickly, and effectively. It differs from all other treatments in that it eliminates the root cause of addiction by restoring your brain to its pre-addiction state.