Hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin, is a prescription opioid narcotic that’s used to treat chronic or severe pain. Unfortunately, it also has a high potential for abuse and can be addictive.
Millions of people in the United States abuse opioids like hydrocodone each year. Thousands, too, seek out treatment, to help them overcome addiction and quit hydrocodone for good.
Here you’ll find information about hydrocodone abuse, addiction, and available treatment options.
Examples Of Hydrocodone Abuse
Hydrocodone is a prescription pain medication that’s designed to take effect slowly over time.
For quicker or more powerful effects, those who abuse hydrocodone may take it in ways other than directed. This can take several different forms.
Common examples of hydrocodone abuse include:
- increasing your hydrocodone use
- taking hydrocodone more often than directed
- crushing and snorting hydrocodone
- injecting hydrocodone
- plugging hydrocodone (rectal administration)
- taking pills or tablets from someone else’s prescription
- taking the medication with other substances (e.g. other opioids or alcohol)
Hydrocodone abuse is not always easily recognizable. You may misuse hydrocodone without that necessarily being your intention.
Unfortunately, regardless of intent, this can be dangerous. This can lead to problems such as accidental opioid overdose or, when abused chronically, drug addiction.
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Why Do People Abuse Hydrocodone?
Drug abuse is complex, and is not the same for everyone. There may be multiple reasons why a person might misuse an opioid analgesic like hydrocodone.
Why this might occur:
- to self-medicate pain
- to self-medicate symptoms of mental illness (e.g. depression)
- to relieve hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms (e.g. headache, muscle pain)
- to overcome drug tolerance
- to enhance the effects of other drugs (e.g. alcohol, heroin)
Hydrocodone And Polysubstance Abuse
Hydrocodone, like other opioids, is sometimes abused with other drugs to either enhance or counteract the side effects of a drug. This is a dangerous practice known as polysubstance abuse.
Common hydrocodone drug combinations include:
- cocaine and hydrocodone
- alcohol and hydrocodone
- other opioids and hydrocodone (e.g. fentanyl, heroin)
Side Effects Of Hydrocodone Abuse
Hydrocodone works in the body by slowing activity in the central nervous system, producing feelings of calm, relaxation, and euphoria (increased happiness).
Abusing hydrocodone, however, can cause stronger effects, as well as a number of physical, mental, and emotional side effects.
Short-term side effects of hydrocodone abuse include:
- dry mouth
- tiny pupils
- nausea or vomiting
- slowed or shallow breathing
- reduced heart rate and blood pressure
- insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
What Causes Hydrocodone Addiction?
Addiction is a disease that can develop from the chronic abuse of drugs like hydrocodone, in part due to its effects on the brain.
When taken, hydrocodone binds to the body’s opioid receptors, which are associated with the regulation of pain perception and feelings of pleasure.
Abusing hydrocodone can, over time, cause the body to rely on hydrocodone for the production of “feel good” chemicals, like dopamine.
This can eventually lead to a physical reliance on hydrocodone (dependence) and a mental or psychological reliance (addiction).
Signs And Symptoms Of A Hydrocodone Addiction
Addiction is a chronic illness that develops over time. It’s not instantaneous.
Understanding common signs of addiction may be helpful for those who take hydrocodone or are worried about a loved one who is taking it.
Signs of a hydrocodone addiction may include:
- taking higher doses than prescribed
- taking it after your prescription has run out
- constantly thinking about hydrocodone
- injecting or snorting hydrocodone
- going to multiple doctors for prescriptions
- running out of drug prescriptions early
- being unable to cut down on or stop taking hydrocodone
- continuing to use hydrocodone despite negative consequences
- experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms
- needing higher doses over time to feel the desired effect (tolerance)
Who’s At Risk For A Hydrocodone Addiction?
Opiate addiction can affect anyone. No one is immune. However, there are certain factors, including personal and environmental factors, that can increase the risk of becoming addicted.
Risk factors for hydrocodone addiction include:
- prior history of substance abuse
- family history of addiction
- history of mental illness
- having medical conditions treated with opioid drugs
- history of trauma (e.g. wartime combat, sexual abuse)
- excessive drug use
Hydrocodone Overdose Signs And Symptoms
Overdosing on Vicodin, in severe cases, can be deadly. Thousands of people in the U.S. die from opioid overdose each year. Knowing common signs of Vicodin overdose can be life-saving.
Signs and symptoms of a hydrocodone overdose include:
- bluish skin or fingernails
- clammy skin
- slow or difficult breathing
- stopped breathing
- muscle twitches
- gurgling noises
- extremely small pupils (“pinpoint” pupils)
- weak pulse
- coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)
Opioid overdose can be reversed with naloxone, or Narcan. When quickly administered, this medication can block the effects of opioids and save a person’s life.
What’s A Lethal Dose Of Hydrocodone?
Too much hydrocodone can be deadly. Studies show 0.47 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or more of hydrocodone can be lethal, although this lethal dose may vary from person to person.
If you or someone you know are experiencing symptoms of overdose, call 911 for emergency help right away.
Treatment Programs For Hydrocodone Abuse And Addiction
Conquering prescription drug addiction, and finding recovery for yourself, is possible. For most, this begins with finding substance abuse treatment.
Multiple treatment options exist for hydrocodone abuse and addiction. One of the most effective options is intensive treatment through an inpatient or residential rehab program.
Inpatient Drug Rehab
Inpatient drug rehab offers daily medical and behavioral healthcare services, such as drug counseling, for people with substance use disorders, including addiction to hydrocodone.
During rehab, you will have the opportunity to learn skills that will help you in your addiction recovery, including positive coping strategies and relapse prevention skills.
Residential Rehab Programs
Residential addiction treatment, like inpatient rehab, provides 24-hour care.
For those struggling with hydrocodone abuse, this means access to medical care, professional and peer support, and a variety of evidence-based treatment methods.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a leading treatment for opioid addiction.
It uses medications like methadone or buprenorphine to manage withdrawal symptoms (including cravings), as well as behavioral therapy and substance abuse counseling.
Behavioral therapy is helpful because it can teach you coping skills and mechanisms for managing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors tied to your drug use.
Outpatient Treatment Programs
If you’re unable to enter a rehab facility for inpatient care or need additional support after an intensive program, a doctor may recommend outpatient treatment.
Outpatient programs can have flexible scheduling and do not require staying in a facility overnight for around-the-clock supervision.
Common forms of outpatient addiction treatment include:
- intensive outpatient programs (IOPs)
- partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)
- general outpatient programs
- substance use counseling
- outpatient MAT
Detoxification (detox) will be a necessary first step in your treatment process if you’ve developed physical dependence on hydrocodone through chronic use.
The safest way to undergo hydrocodone detox is through medically supervised detox programs. This option is offered by some detox facilities and inpatient addiction treatment centers.
How Long Hydrocodone Stays In Your System
On average, hydrocodone can stay in a person’s system for one to four days. This timeline may depend on tolerance, dose taken, and level of drug dependence among other factors.
See more about how long hydrocodone stays in your system.
How Long Can Hydrocodone Be Detected In Your Hair?
Hair drug tests can detect hydrocodone for the longest window: up to 90 days.
See more about how long hydrocodone stays in your hair.
How Long Can Hydrocodone Be Detected In Urine?
Hydrocodone can be detected in a urine sample for two to four days on average. This detection time will depend on multiple factors, including drug tolerance.
See more about how long hydrocodone can be detected in your urine.
How Long Can Hydrocodone Be Detected In Blood?
Blood tests can detect traces of hydrocodone, or its metabolites, for up to 24 hours.
See more about how long hydrocodone stays in your blood.
Hydrocodone Addiction FAQs
Find answers to frequently asked questions about hydrocodone addiction.
❓ What Type Of Drug Is Hydrocodone?
✔️ Hydrocodone is a Schedule II prescription pain reliever. It can effectively relieve pain around-the-clock. It is sold under the brand names Hysingla and Zohydro ER.
Hydrocodone belongs to the class of semi-synthetic opioid drugs. This makes it chemically similar to drugs such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, and the illicit drug heroin.
❓ Is Vicodin The Same As Hydrocodone?
✔️ Vicodin is a brand name for a prescription painkiller that contains both hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is another type of painkiller found in Tylenol.
Other brand name drugs containing both ingredients include:
❓ What Are Common Street Names For Hydrocodone?
✔️ Hydrocodone bought illicitly on the street may be referred to by “street names,” or nicknames. Common street names for Hydrocodone include Norco, vikes, hydros, and tabs, among others.
Street names may vary by region or drug formulation, in addition to other factors.
❓ How Much Does Hydrocodone Cost On The Street?
✔️ A single pill of Vicodin can cost anywhere from $5 to $25 each on the street. This price can vary according to dosage, whether it’s name brand, or other factors.
See more about how much Vicodin (hydrocodone) costs on the street.
Find Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment Today
Don’t wait to learn about your treatment options. Overcoming addiction for good is possible.
Contact us today to learn more about treatment for hydrocodone abuse, or to find a rehab program that meets your needs.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Opioid Overdose: Prescription Overdose
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — Hydrocodone
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Commonly Used Drugs Chart
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Hydrocodone
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Hydrocodone Combination Products