Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone Addiction Hotline

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As the most prescribed painkiller in America, hydrocodone continues to be a contributing factor in the American opioid epidemic. This generic opioid is used to manage pain and coughing, but can easily become addictive — even to those it’s prescribed to. If you or a loved one have been taking hydrocodone following a surgery or to manage chronic pain or coughing, you are at serious risk to develop an opioid addiction. While most people start using hydrocodone to manage extreme pain following an injury or surgery, many endure a lifetime of pain caused by hydrocodone addiction or abuse. As hydrocodone attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors, a tolerance builds for the drug and users eventually become dependent on its euphoric high. Hydrocodone addiction is deadly and can lead to overdose.
Hydrocodone is an opioid drug used for managing pain and suppressing coughs. A well-known brand name prescription of hydrocodone is Vicodin. All opiates come from the poppy plant, however hydrocodone is considered to be semi-synthetic because it’s a chemically manipulated form of the natural opiate codeine.

A German pharmaceutical company developed hydrocodone in the 1920s in an effort to find an alternative to codeine that had less risk of toxicity. Later that decade, American scientists were also experimenting with hydrocodone as a replacement for highly addictive cough medicines that contained opioids. Hydrocodone was identified as the best alternative because it reduced pain and managed a person’s cough.

Thirty years later, in 1961, the first reports on the likelihood of hydrocodone addiction properties was published. Despite the warnings, however, hydrocodone has continued to grow in popularity amongst medical professionals and drug abusers. Hydrocodone was the most dispensed prescription every year between 2006–2010, with roughly 131,200,000 distributed in 2010.

In answering the “What is hydrocodone”? question, it’s important consider the appearance of this substance. Hydrocodone is available in tablet and liquid, drinkable form. The drug is most commonly prescribed as a small, white, oval-shaped tablet. Each pill is inscribed with the number of milligrams of hydrocodone in the pill. Hydrocodone tablets vary from 10 mg to 120 mg per pill.

Two major pharmaceutical companies manufacture liquid hydrocodone — Pharmaceutical Associates Inc. and Par Pharmaceuticals. The medications are yellow and red, respectively.

hydrocodone addictions
Several pharmaceutical companies sell brand-name versions of hydrocodone. Examples of brand name hydrocodone includes:

You may hear hydrocodone referred by other street names or slang terms, including:

  • Hydros
  • Tabs
  • Watsons
  • Vics
  • Vicos
  • Vikes
  • 357s
  • Lorris/Loris
  • Nirco
  • Perks

Doctors prescribe hydrocodone to manage severe pain or suppress coughs. Patients who receive hydrocodone often have persistent cough, chronic pain, or may have recently undergone surgery.

The drug has such a high potential for dependence that users who start with a medical need for the drug often become addicted. As a result, to fuel addictions, many prescriptions are continued longer than necessary or diverted to abusers.

“Is hydrocodone addictive?” is one of the most common questions related to this substance, in addition to the “What is hydrocodone?” question. Hydrocodone is a highly addictive opioid drug with a high potential for abuse and addiction. The next question to consider is “What makes hydrocodone addictive?” Opioids — even chemically manufactured ones like hydrocodone — produce calming, anti-depressing, and euphoric effects, which often “hook” users on the drug. Due to the likelihood of hydrocodone addiction, it’s possible to become dependent on the drug while taking it for medical purposes with a legitimate prescription from a doctor.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies hydrocodone as a controlled substance — a Schedule II drug. The five drug schedules are determined based on a drug’s medical uses and its potential for abuse or hydrocodone addiction. Although hydrocodone presents a high risk, it does have legitimate medical uses, so it’s a Schedule II drug.

Taking too much hydrocodone at once can lead to drug overdose and death. Overdose is a real threat because it’s possible to build an opioid tolerance so quickly, causing a person to take increasingly large doses.

Symptoms of hydrocodone overdose include:

  • Difficulty breathing or no breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Fingernails or lips turning blue
  • Nausea and vomiting
Although it was first discovered in the 1920s, scientists didn’t begin paying attention to the rate of hydrocodone addiction, overdose, and death surrounding hydrocodone until the 1960s. Since then, numerous reports have been published.

Some significant hydrocodone abuse statistics include:

  • Between 2006–2010, hydrocodone was the most distributed prescription drug in the U.S.
  • 82,500 emergency room visits in 2011 were related to hydrocodone abuse
  • Hydrocodone was a contributing factor in 431 deaths in Florida in 2013 during a six-month period
  • 4.8% of high school seniors surveyed in 2014 said they used Vicodin, a popular brand name prescription of hydrocodone, in the past year
  • Vicodin costs around $9 for 30 pills at the pharmacy, and roughly $20 for one pill on the streets

Hydrocodone has made headlines through the years as celebrities like Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, and Brittany Murphy have been found dead after using the drug. Rocker Courtney Love was famously arrested and charged for illegal possession of hydrocodone and other painkillers.

“Friends” star Matthew Perry checked himself into rehab for a hydrocodone addiction in 1997. Getting hooked on the drug also extends past the glitz and glam of Hollywood. Anyone can fall victim to hydrocodone addiction. While on the presidential campaign trail for her husband, Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain spoke to the nation about her former hydrocodone addiction involving Vicodin that started after two back surgeries.

Is hydrocodone addictive? Yes, but the good news is there are many options available to treat hydrocodone addiction among other addictions.

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Cahoon, Lauren, et al. “Celebrity Addictions: Painkillers and Hollywood.” ABC News, 22 Feb. 2008, abcnews.go.com/Health/PainManagement/story?id=4307488&page=1. Accessed 20 Jan. 2017.

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Hydrocodone Addiction
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