Hydrocodone is an opiate drug that contains both an opiate and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone changes the way the body perceives pain, and acetaminophen increases the effectiveness of the hydrocodone. It is prescribed typically to relieve moderate to severe and is also available in liquid form to relieve severe coughs. Hydrocodone is highly addictive and currently one of the most widely-prescribed pain relievers in the United States. When it comes to hydrocodone, what starts as a short-term answer to pain can quickly become a full-blown addiction.
How Addictive Is Hydrocodone?
Addictive Properties of Hydrocodone
When an opioid drug such as hydrocodone is introduced to the body, the chemicals in the drug attach to opioid receptors in the brain. This attachment results in an inability for the brain to process feelings of pain and can cause symptoms such as:
- Excessive drowsiness
- Decrease in respiration
In addition to these physical side effects, opiates impact the area of the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure. These euphoric sensations lead individuals to use the drug recreationally which increases the risk of addiction.
Hydrocodone Addiction Symptoms
One of the most obvious symptoms of hydrocodone addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms, which appear as flu-like symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, chills and muscle aches.
If you or a loved one think a dependence on hydrocodone is developing, look for these symptoms of drug overuse:
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fear and depression
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
Along with symptoms of overuse and the appearance of withdrawal symptoms, other signs of addiction to hydrocodone include:
- Needing more of the drug before the next dose is due
- Becoming preoccupied with getting and using the drug
- Needing a supply of the drug on hand at all times
- Engaging in dangerous behaviors, like driving, while under the influence of hydrocodone
- Participating in illegal activities, like stealing, to get more of the drug
- Becoming more involved in the drug culture
- Turning to cheaper forms of the drug, like heroin, to maintain the addiction
If you notice any of these symptoms in a loved one or are struggling with hydrocodone abuse, it’s time to get help.
Signs of Hydrocodone Abuse
The following are some subtle cues family members can look for in order to identify hydrocodone addiction in their loved ones.
People suffering from hydrocodone addiction may be taking three, four or even five times the prescribed dosages. As a result, they may run out of pills on a regular basis, and they may need to take their pills in order to avoid unpleasant symptoms of physical withdrawal.
- Visit many doctors, sometimes within a single day
- Ask other people to go to the doctor and get prescriptions for them
- Steal pills from others
- Stash pills in strange places
- Steal or borrow money in order to buy pills from dealers
These acts can be subtle. People may skip work obligations in order to visit a doctor, for example, and the family may not discover the act until the person’s supervisor calls the house. Families may also not know that pills are stolen or stashed, until they find empty bottles or pills in common areas.
The euphoria that hydrocodone can bring about can result in sudden mood changes, and sometimes, those can be cues families can spot. Someone they love might come home irritated and angry, for example, and after a few moments alone in the bathroom, that same person might emerge seeming happy, alert and a little giddy.
Individuals who abuse hydrocodone may take such large doses of the drug that they experience severe constipation. People like this may consistently complain of bowel or abdominal pain, and they may stock up the family medicine chest with laxative medications.
What Hydrocodone Users Experience
People who attempt to stop taking the drug or cut down on the amount they take each day may experience withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, abdominal distress, insomnia or bone pain.
What to Do
If you suspect that someone you love is using or abusing hydrocodone, we’d like to help. At Adjustments Family Services, we’ve developed treatment programs that can help people to understand the dangers inherent in hydrocodone abuse, and we provide outpatient therapies that can help people to improve.
Snorting painkillers of any kind can indicate a drug addiction or serious drug abuse problem, which can create a number of challenges for the user, including:
- Medical or physical problems related specifically to snorting the drug
- Mental health and physical health problems caused by abuse of hydrocodone
- Social issues related to ongoing drug abuse
- Legal problems due to criminal activity related to addiction
Any method of ingesting addictive substances is problematic because it introduces a high level of a toxic substance to the body. Specific to snorting, there are a number of issues that a person may face, including:
- Chronic runny nose
- Inflammation and pain in the throat and nasal passages
- Respiratory problems
- A potential need for reconstructive surgery if snorting these drugs is chronic enough to wear away the nasal passages
Signs of Snorting
How can you tell if your loved one is continually snorting hydrocodone if you don’t actually see them crush the pill and snort the substance? There are a number of paraphernalia items that can indicate that snorting is your family member’s ingestion method of choice:
- Rings, lockets or other jewelry with hidden compartments designed to carry powders for quick use
- Short, two- or three-inch pieces of plastic drinking straws or plastic pen tubes used for snorting the powder
- Razor blades, especially when found in combination with other items on the list or covered in white powder residue
- Small, flat, and/or reflective or clear surfaces with razor cuts in them and/or white powder residue
Is Treatment Necessary?
Snorting a pill is a clear sign of drug abuse, and when drug abuse is a chronic problem, addiction can become the real issue. If you believe that your loved one is dependent upon hydrocodone, with or without a prescription, then treatment is absolutely necessary. Opiate painkillers like hydrocodone are classified as Schedule II drugs. They are heavily controlled due to their addictive nature and the high rates of overdose among people who abuse the drug. In addition to snorting crushed hydrocodone pills, other signs of addictive use of hydrocodone include:
- Taking the drug without a prescription
- Using hydrocodone in addition to other painkillers, sedatives, or other drugs, including alcohol
- Getting multiple prescriptions for hydrocodone or similar drugs from multiple doctors
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms and/or cravings when without the pills
- Being unable to stop taking the pills on their own