Would you believe that in 2014, about 120 million hydrocodone prescriptions were reported to be written by doctors in the United States? The next year, about 2 million Americans were known to be addicted to prescribed painkillers?
These digits speak a lot about the degree of the “opioid epidemic” among Americans and it is indeed a cause for alarm. How can a medically useful drug be so vulnerable to abuse?
Let us read on to understand the nature of this highly addictive semi-opioid called hydrocodone.
What Is Hydrocodone?
It is a substance chemically manipulated in combination with naturally extracted chemicals from an opium poppy plant. This makes it a semi-opioid substance that is medically used to treat moderate to severe pain such as the ones caused by post-surgery or invasive dental procedures.
Apart from its medical use, this substance is also known for its highly addictive potential which is the reason why it is classified as Schedule II controlled substance. Despite this, it continues to be one of the most commonly abused pain relievers in the country.
Immediate vs Extended Release
Treatment of this substance comes in two forms: immediate-release and extended-release.
The most known brand for immediate release is Vicodin. This form of the substance is usually given only as needed. This serves as a treatment only for temporary and short-term pain.
The most common brand for extended-release is Zohydro. This is strictly prescribed only once a day as its effect could last up to 12 hours.
How Do I Get High From Hydrocodone
Those who are new to opioid painkillers are capable of allowing this substance to set in without craving for more of it. However, those who have misused and abused it are more likely to feel high.
There are two instances that the substance is misused. First, it is not orally taken as prescribed, and second, the dosage is not accurately followed.
Once you take more than what is prescribed, you are likely to develop a tolerance and later addiction to this drug.
What Does Hydrocodone Do To Your Body
This substance engages the user in a state of relaxation and peace. This is the feeling when you are high with it. It makes the user enjoy the pleasurable feeling of euphoria. However, this state is only temporary and once it lasts, numerous side effects are likely to follow. This causes the person to yearn for more of the drug.
The substance tends to manipulate the way the brain senses pain. It increases a person’s tolerance to pain and produces a great amount of dopamine that wraps the pain in a form of feeling good. As soon as the effect subsides, the body dozes off and tends to feel extremely tired.
The tendency to cover up this negative feeling multiple times leads to substance addiction. And since the tolerance to pain has increased, a higher dosage is necessary to go back to the high state and eventually try to wipe out the experience of side effects.
This is how the substance abuse cycle works again and again until it destroys the normal function of the body. Reaching this peak strongly requires professional help.
What Are The Side Effects of Hydrocodone
The side effects occur once the drug’s relieving effect subsides. These side effects can be classified as mild and serious. Mild side effects are usually not much of a cause of concern compared to serious ones.
Mild side effects include the following:
- Fatigue. This can manifest through feelings of powerlessness and extreme exhaustion. It is also likely observed that the person opts to sleep more often than normal.
- Headache. The pain can be accompanied by dizziness and feeling nauseous or it can stand alone.
- Anxiety. This could cause sleeplessness or insomnia and sometimes bring the experience of nightmares.
Other mild side effects include constipation and mild itchiness. In contrast, serious side effects need immediate medical attention. These include the following:
- Digestion-related issues.
If you experience pain caused by a delayed bowel movement, you are likely to suffer from a bowel obstruction and this needs to be treated immediately. Worst cases may even require surgery.
Vomiting, which could be caused by bowel obstruction, is also likely to occur. Difficulty urinating may also be experienced and this can be painful.
- Respiratory problems.
Keep an eye for symptoms that relate to respiratory problems since this could be fatal. This includes an irregular heartbeat and difficulty in breathing.
- Allergic reactions.
This includes hives, rashes, and even swelling of the face and throat. Severe itching is also something serious.
Whether your symptoms are mild or serious, it is always best to immediately notify your doctor about how you feel. When you are taking this drug, always communicate all your feelings to your physician so that all possible problems can be easily addressed.
What Happens When You’re Addicted To Hydrocodone
Addiction is one of the long-term side effects of taking the substance and this could change your lifestyle and put your life at great risk. This causes physical, psychological, and behavioral problems that need long-term treatment and professional help.
Long-term physical consequences include impairment of pulmonary function and damage of liver and kidney. Psychological consequences include mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Behavioral consequences may include the destruction of relationships and a sense of self.
On top of this, overdose is also likely to occur and the symptoms could really be fatal. The symptoms include low heart rate and trouble breathing and these could lead to death.
Withdrawal symptoms inevitably come along with the use of this substance regardless if you are addicted to it or not. This is why it is never advisable to suddenly quit taking it. The process of withdrawal must be medically assisted to control its symptoms.
If you experience addiction or if someone close to you does, do not hesitate to ask for help. You can find several rehab centers offering inpatient detox programs and treatment plans that can help you overcome addiction to this drug.