These are common questions people have, and below are answers, as well as a general overview of what hydrocodone is.

Can hydrocodone get you high? What is the hydrocodone duration in terms of feeling the effects of this drug?

These are common questions people have, and below are answers, as well as a general overview of hydrocodone.

The Basics of Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is one type of opioid pain medication. Opioids are also referred to as narcotics. Hydrocodone is only intended to be available by prescription in the U.S., and as with other opioid pain medicines, it is a controlled substance.

Hydrocodone can be prescribed in a brand-name version on its own, but it’s often used in combination drugs as well. For example, hydrocodone will be combined with acetaminophen for more pain-relieving effectiveness.

Hydrocodone is also included in extended-release formulations that are used for around-the-clock pain management as well as in immediate-release medicines.

Brand-name drugs that include hydrocodone and acetaminophen or ibuprofen include VicodinLortab, and Norco.

Unfortunately, there is a potential for abuse and addiction with hydrocodone, and this is true of other opioids as well. Hydrocodone and other opioids have led to such an abuse problem in the U.S. that it’s called the opioid epidemic, and it’s been declared a crisis.

How Does Hydrocodone Work and Can Hydrocodone Get You High?

It’s believed that hydrocodone works like other opioids, in that when it’s taken it binds to opioid receptors, which are located throughout the central nervous system. Hydrocodone doesn’t stop the pain from occurring, but it does raise a person’s tolerance for pain, and it changes how they sense pain. At a normal dose, when hydrocodone is used for legitimate pain, a person won’t feel much of a high.

However, a high is possible when people take larger doses or abuse the drug. This is because when the opioid receptors are activated by a larger dose of hydrocodone, it then triggers a rush of dopamine, which is a feel-good neurotransmitter, to go into the brain.

Instead of being recycled as dopamine normally would, large amounts stay in the brain of the person, creating a high. The effect from hydrocodone high will include a sense of euphoria and often elevated well-being. Once the high wears off, a person will feel drowsy or very relaxed. People who abuse hydrocodone and other opioids may nod off at strange times because of the effects of the drugs.

When someone takes hydrocodone and they’re following the instructions of their doctor, they’re usually given the smallest dose that might be effective for their pain, and then the doctor may gradually increase it as needed to avoid the potential of getting high.

When a person gets high from hydrocodone, they put themselves at risk of forming a hydrocodone addiction. The same mechanisms that create the euphoria when someone takes opioids are also responsible for triggering reward cycles in the brain that contribute to addiction.

It’s not only the dose that a person takes which determines whether or not someone will get high from hydrocodone, but it’s also how they use it. Hydrocodone is intended to be used orally, but sometimes people will crush it up and either snort it or dissolve it so they can inject it directly into the bloodstream. Using hydrocodone in these ways gives people a faster high and also one that’s more powerful. However, this kind of use is more likely to lead to addiction.

With versions of hydrocodone that are extended-release, this is a particularly popular way to abuse the medication and get all of the effects at one time.

So, can hydrocodone get you high? The answer is that it does, which is a part of why there is such a huge opioid problem in the U.S.

However, it’s not only addiction that’s a risk with the use of hydrocodone. There is also the potential for an overdose to occur. Opioids not only interact with the opioid receptors, but they also slow the functions of the central nervous system, which include breathing. People who take large doses of opioids and don’t have a tolerance to these drugs may experience respiratory depression, and it can become so severe that they overdose, go into a coma or die.

There is also the potential for physical dependence when someone is using hydrocodone. Physical dependence occurs when a person has been using hydrocodone or other opioids for a long time, and their body becomes used to the drugs. If the person stops using opioids suddenly, they may develop uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Related Topic: Hydrocodone Addiction Self-Assessment Quiz

Hydrocodone Duration

Typically, when someone takes immediate-release hydrocodone, the effects start to appear within 10 to 20 minutes. The peak effects of hydrocodone are usually around 30 to 60 minutes after a dose is taken, and the hydrocodone duration is around four to eight hours for pain relief. The half-life of hydrocodone is slightly less than four hours.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Christina Caplinger, RPh
Christina Caplinger is a licensed pharmacist in both Colorado and Idaho and is also a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.