How to Taper off Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is painkiller prescription in the category of medications known as opioids and opiates. Like oxycodone, another opioid which hydrocodone is often times confused with, hydrocodone is called a semisynthetic opioid. These substances are derived from a natural opium source but perfected and synthesized in a laboratory setting.  

As far as functionality is concerned, hydrocodone has proven to be an effective pain reliever for decades. Physicians prescribe the medication for any number of ailments or situations ranging from surgery to cancer management. For all of its perceived benefits, hydrocodone and other opioids are truly a mixed bag. There are certainly plenty of negative consequences of extended use, overuse, or illicit misuse of these drugs. Hydrocodone has the potential of developing a substance use disorder in its users. It is the most prescribed pain med in the county, and over 100,000 emergency room trips are connected to hydrocodone use each year.

It is for this previous reason that hydrocodone and other prescription opioids have consistently caused more than ten thousand overdose deaths year after year. Collectively with the deaths caused by opioids like heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil, these drugs led to over 50,000 fatalities in 2016 alone. Hydrocodone is an accessory to a crisis felt across the entire United States.

An epidemic on such a macro scale requires effective and actionable solutions. It will take years, decades even, to see any lasting societal progress. But, on a user-by-user basis, remedies aren’t quite so difficult to institute in the meantime. The best treatment option requires the collaboration of physician and patient alike. Tapering allows for just that. Any worthwhile tapering-off-hydrocodone schedule requires complete perseverance on behalf of all parties involved. As a detox method, tapering off hydrocodone allows a user to recondition themselves — mind, body, and spirit — to life without opioids.

How to Taper Off Hydrocodone | Tapering Off Hydrocodone Schedule
How to taper off hydrocodone. It’s a common inquiry for anyone whose friends or family members, or they themselves, take the pills for medical or recreational purposes. Before determining “how” the first question that must be addressed is “why?” On the surface this seems to be an impossible question to answer. After all, every individual has different reasons and rationale for choosing a hydrocodone taper. Work reasons. Family reasons. Financial reasons. The list goes on and on. However, when looking at tapering objectively as a whole, there are two very important reasons why such a method would be used going forward.

First, because tapering off hydrocodone is a steady, balanced endeavor, the body is afforded ample opportunity to self-correct and adapt to a hydrocodone-free existence. The old axiom holds true here: slow and steady wins the (recovery) race. Second, tapers inhibit withdrawals. The various bodily systems that would otherwise exhibit symptoms without hydrocodone — nausea of the digestion system, aching of the musculoskeletal system, and psychological symptoms of the central nervous system to name a few — are purged of this painful aftermath. Being able to lessen or evade a withdrawal is the most appealing part to a hydrocodone user, as opioid withdrawals are notoriously painful.

Some of these withdrawal symptoms and their location of origin were mentioned above. A more comprehensive list of signs and symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include:

  • Flu-like symptoms: sweating, watery eyes, runny nose, headaches, and a feverish appearance all add up to an uncomfortable hydrocodone withdrawal.
  • Nausea: vomiting and uncontrollable drooling may last the duration of the physical symptoms — approximately 3 to 7 days or so.
  • Muscle aching: muscles will not work at their full capability, and a characteristic aching pervades the experience.
  • Constipation: diarrhea and long-lasting constipation accompany many other symptoms.
  • Insomnia: disturbed sleep cycles can last for weeks on end as the brain’s chemistry attempts to balance itself out.
  • Cramping: spasms and convulsions happen without any prior warning.
  • Psychological symptoms: what may start as manageable cravings can transform into more troubling problems such as depression or anxiety.
No sensible or scientifically supported tapering-off-hydrocodone schedule condones the practice of quitting opioids cold turkey. Going cold turkey is a centuries-old practice of stopping drug or alcohol use outright. Though it does achieve the goal of cessation in the short-term, the benefits may not last, and the withdrawal will be uninterrupted and concentrated. At-home tapers, while not preferred compared to clinical tapers, at least add some semblance of structure. These approaches can be successful and safe with proper planning, precautions, and support in place beforehand. Though, this adds another level of strategy that would otherwise be best left to the diligent minds and helpful hands of trained medical professionals.

Slow, medically supervised tapers are the best course of action for hydrocodone users. Each individual will have a personalized taper, but there are generally accepted practices anyone can follow. A 25 percent dose reduction every other day is a feasible schedule for short-term users, while 10 percent per week is closer to the amount needed for those who have used hydrocodone longer. Always consult with a physician before attempting such a taper. This process is not one-size-fits-all by any stretch.

No matter one’s life circumstances, a taper detox can put the power back into the hands of embattled hydrocodone users. With adequate medical intervention, anyone has the possibility of making a life-changing decision, today.

If you know someone in the grips of a hydrocodone addiction, don’t wait to point them in the direction of help. You just might save their life. The Recovery Village provides individualized medical detox programs for those with drug or alcohol addictions. With centers across the country, you’re likely not too far out of reach to attend one of these renowned centers. Call 352.771.2700 today to learn more. 

How to Taper off Hydrocodone | Tapering off Hydrocodone Schedule
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