Hydrocodone Addiction on the Rise in America

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The dramatic surge in drug abuse and overdose deaths has dominated news broadcasts and social media feeds over the past few years. While it seems as though different drugs have taken the spotlight at certain points, prescription medications–and especially prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone–have reached epidemic proportions in this country. Because of the dramatic surge in the abuse of hydrocodone and other prescription medications, overdose deaths have become the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Highly addictive and featuring withdrawal symptoms that have the potential to become life threatening, those addicted to hydrocodone and other prescription painkillers needs to seek immediate professional help from a reputable drug treatment facility.

If you are struggling with hydrocodone addiction and need help, call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center toll-free today and learn about our effective drug treatment programs and are proven to work and personalized to fit your unique needs.

Popping Pills: Hydrocodone and the Prescription Pill Epidemic

Before we delve deeper into the hydrocodone is and its effects on the body, it is extremely important to understand how the drug and similar prescription painkillers are being abused by Americans on a large scale. The following are statistics that were provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • 52 million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription painkillers and other medications for non-medical purposes in the United States.
  • 6.1 million Americans have abused prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone and other similar medications in the past month.
  • Of the 8.76 million Americans who abuse prescription medications in the United States, 5.1 million abuse prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone.

When used as directed by a doctor and taken under medical supervision, prescription medications such as hydrocodone is a effective short-term tool in a comprehensive pain management program. However, a substantial number of those who use the drug end up taking it for longer periods of time and the potential for abuse dramatically increases. If people are addicted to hydrocodone and can’t get more of the drug from their primary doctor, they will visit multiple doctors, intentionally injure themselves to get more, will take other people’s prescriptions or buy the drug on the black market.

What is Hydrocodone?


Hydrocodone is a powerful opioid that is used in medical and surgical settings for the relief of moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone is formulated under a number of different brand names, such as Vicodin and Lorcet®. Another well-known opioid is oxycodone which is the generic name for drugs such as Oxycontin, Percodan and Percocet. Hydrocodone is available by prescription only and is similar in potency to morphine and is in the same opioid drug class as heroin.

As with all opioids and opiates, hydrocodone works by attaching to opioid receptors found in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract, and can effectively change the way a person experiences pain. Additionally, opioids significantly affects certain areas of the brain–and in particular it affects the brain region known as the nucleus accumbens. This specific brain region is a key structure in how we as humans experience reward and motivation. The intense euphoria that hydrocodone gives users is extremely reinforcing in the nucleus accumbens, and it high addiction potential quickly hooks people–even if used as prescribed by a doctor and taken under strict supervision.

The Effects of Hydrocodone Addiction

The effects of hydrocodone addiction can be seen in a physical sense, as well as a psychological sense. The common physical effects seen with hydrocodone addiction include the following:

  • Nausea, stomach pain, or loss of appetite
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Unusual thoughts or behavior, confusion
  • Compromised mental function
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures or convulsions

The common psychological effects of hydrocodone addiction are the following:

  • Personality shifts
  • Low self-esteem, negative body image
  • Feelings of anger, rage
  • Increased anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Paranoia

If you or a loved one are struggling with hydrocodone abuse, you may notice the following signs:

  • Increased isolation or withdrawal to use the drug in secret
  • Repetitive thoughts about using hydrocodone
  • Experience of “phantom pains” when drug is not in use
  • Secretly storing or hiding the drug to avoid disclosure

Getting Help for Hydrocodone Addiction

Like all opiates and opioids, people will experience significant withdrawal symptoms if they quit taking hydrocodone. Trying to quit the drug “cold turkey” or using methods of self-detoxification are highly risky and can pose significant health issues. It is highly advisable that people who are addicted to hydrocodone seek drug treatment. To help minimize withdrawal symptoms and to help the process become more bearable, users need to undergo and successfully complete medical detoxification. During the detox process, clients will be given medications such as Suboxone in order to decrease the severity of withdrawal. Additionally, the detox process always occurs in a safe and secure environment.

Once a client is in a substance-free and stable state, they will transition into formal and intensive drug treatment. During this phase, clients will undergo a variety of treatment services including therapy, life and coping skills training and aftercare programming such as intensive outpatient therapy and sober living. Each addict has an individualized treatment plan that is targeted for their unique needs. These treatment plans are initially created during the detox process when staff evaluates for any co-occurring mental or physical ailments which could impede the recovery process.

Once formal treatment is completed, it is highly recommended that clients undergo a form of aftercare treatment in order to help ease their transition back into their daily life. Aftercare programs provide clients the relapse prevention education they need to minimize any chances of slipping back into active use. Aftercare programs provide that extra encouragement and support needed for those new to recovery to become more comfortable and confident living a substance-free lifestyle.

If you are dealing with an addiction to hydrocodone and are ready to make the commitment and investment towards a happier and sober future, pick up the phone and call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center. Don’t wait another day to address your substance abuse; your future is now with help from Ocean Breeze Recovery Center.


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