The following provides an overview of what it means to potentiate hydrocodone, as well as outlining the dangers of hydrocodone potentiators.

For people who are searching for ways to potentiate hydrocodone, it’s important to understand the risks and dangers of hydrocodone potentiators. Hydrocodone abuse on its own is dangerous, but when you potentiate hydrocodone, you raise the risks even more.


Hydrocodone is a generic narcotic, also known as an opioid. It’s intended to be prescribed for pain ranging from moderate to severe, and it’s a controlled substance in the United States.

Hydrocodone can be prescribed as a single-ingredient medication. However, it’s more commonly given to patients in combination drugs such as Vicodin. Hydrocodone is combined with acetaminophen and ibuprofen in these combination drugs to improve its effectiveness.

Because of how hydrocodone interacts with the central nervous systems’ opioid receptors, people can feel high when they use this and other opioids, particularly when they take high doses. An opioid high from prescription pain medicines can include euphoria, relaxation and feelings of well-being. These pleasurable effects can trigger a cycle of addiction in some individuals, and they may find other ways to abuse the drug once they’ve developed a tolerance and no longer feel the effects as strongly. For example, people may abuse extended-release hydrocodone by crushing it and dissolving it so they can inject it and feel its effects faster. Hydrocodone can also be abused by crushing and snorting it.

Abusing hydrocodone can lead to an overdose because of respiratory depression. If hydrocodone is included in medication with acetaminophen, it can cause liver damage or acute liver failure when taken in large amounts.

Other indicators that you or someone close to you could be abusing hydrocodone include chewing hydrocodone tablets, taking larger doses than prescribed, taking hydrocodone more frequently than prescribed, or continuing to take hydrocodone even after you’re no longer experiencing pain.

How Do People Potentiate Hydrocodone?

The term potentiate hydrocodone refers to a scenario where people use this drug in a way other than prescribed to intensify its effects. A hydrocodone potentiator is a substance that can facilitate this amplified effect. One of the primary hydrocodone potentiators is grapefruit juice, which is why drug commercials often warn against the use of grapefruit juice when taking certain medications.

The reason grapefruit juice is a possible hydrocodone potentiator is that it makes hydrocodone harder to break down, allowing its effects to be felt for longer. Not everyone is going to experience the same reaction with grapefruit juice and hydrocodone, but it is possible that combining the two can increase the drug’s effects and increase the likelihood of negative or dangerous side effects.

Along with possibly feeling more of a high from using a hydrocodone potentiator like grapefruit juice, you’re also more likely to experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth and other side effects of hydrocodone.

Benadryl is another substance that some people use as a hydrocodone potentiator because it also acts as a depressant in the body, amplifying the effects of hydrocodone. However, this also increases the associated risks, including overdose. Benzodiazepines, alcohol and other psychoactive substances can also be considered hydrocodone potentiators because they can amplify the effects of the drug.

Unfortunately, there are entire tutorials online that instruct people how to follow hydrocodone potentiator protocols to maximize their high. It’s important to keep in mind that many risks come with using potentiators, including the higher likelihood of experiencing an overdose.

Key Points: The Problems Associated with Hydrocodone Potentiators

The opioid epidemic is already bad enough, with thousands of people dying each year from these drugs. As the addiction problem grows, so do methods for getting high. Hydrocodone potentiators, whether it be grapefruit juice, Benadryl or other drugs, put people at a higher risk for dangerous or deadly side effects. Combining hydrocodone with different substances, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can lead to overdose and accidental death.

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. 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.