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Symptoms last 5-7 days, in most cases. Medications and therapy can soothe distress and reduce the risk of drug relapse.
Hydrocodone is the primary active component of several common prescription painkillers, including the widely available Vicodin.
Hydrocodone products are the most commonly prescribed drugs in America, according to Consumer Reports. Because of the high potential for diversion and abuse, not to mention addiction liability, hydrocodone products were moved to the more tightly controlled Schedule II Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classification after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a scientific review and requested the change in 2013.
Prescription opioids are frequently reserved for the management of chronic and/or significantly severe pain; in a dose-dependent manner, their use is also associated with rewarding, euphoric sensations. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that opioid painkiller prescriptions reached 207 million in the United States in 2013, and America consumes practically 100 percent of the world’s hydrocodone.
Hydrocodone is an opiate drug that affects levels of dopamine in the brain. When an individual takes hydrocodone regularly for a length of time, the brain can become tolerant to the amounts taken, and in order to continue to feel its effects, more of the drug will need to be taken each time. Taking increasingly large amounts of hydrocodone may lead to the swift development of physical dependence, however, and ultimately, addiction.
An estimated 2 million Americans struggle with a substance use disorder involving prescription opioids, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reports. One of the side effects of dependency and addiction is the onset of withdrawal symptoms when the drug leaves the system.
Most forms of hydrocodone products, including Norco and Vicodin, are immediate release formulations, with a duration of effects lasting roughly 4-6 hours, the Journal of Pain Research publishes, although there are a few extended-release varieties that last up to 12 hours per dose, which could slightly delay the onset of withdrawal.
Generally speaking, hydrocodone withdrawal will start between 6 and 12 hours after the last dose, depending on which specific drug the dependent individual last took. Opiate withdrawal usually peaks within 72 hours and can last anywhere from a week to a month. Drug cravings and some of the emotional side effects may last longer than a month without the help and support of a mental health specialist.
The amount of time an individual took hydrocodone, as well as the average dose and exact formulation of the drug may make a difference in the precise withdrawal timeline and severity. The longer a drug is taken, the more likely that significant physiological dependence has developed. Some underlying medical or mental health issues may also change how long withdrawal will last, as the brain works to restore itself to where it was before hydrocodone was introduced.
Side effects of hydrocodone withdrawal range from mild to moderate to severe and may differ from person to person. Just as the withdrawal timeline can be influenced by the level of dependency the brain exhibits to hydrocodone, so can the intensity and variety of withdrawal symptoms.
Opiate drugs bind to the multiple opioid receptors throughout the brain and central nervous system, and they act as non-traditional central nervous system depressants, reducing breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure, and decreasing body temperature. When someone is dependent on an opioid drug like hydrocodone, the sudden removal of it can have distressing consequences as the brain and body work in overdrive to recover. Blood pressure, respiration, body temperature, and heart rate may all spike if hydrocodone use or abuse is stopped suddenly. It is therefore not recommended to stop taking a hydrocodone product “cold turkey” or without medical supervision and input.
Specific withdrawal symptoms when stopping hydrocodone may include:
When an individual is addicted to or dependent on hydrocodone, detox is the method of removing the drug from the body. Detox can be performed in either an outpatient or inpatient capacity, although a medical professional should always closely supervise opiate detox. Often the most effective method of treatment is attendance at a hydrocodone detox center.
Medical detox is the optimal choice for helping to minimize hydrocodone withdrawal and ensure an individual’s safety and comfort. Hydrocodone detox programs monitor vital signs around the clock and use medications to keep patients comfortable and stable for a period of 5-7 days in most cases. There are several pharmaceutical options used during medical detox from hydrocodone that reduce withdrawal symptoms and help to prevent relapse in part by lowering the amount and intensity of drug cravings.
Abruptly quitting an opioid like hydrocodone may result in the onset of very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Oftentimes, dosages of hydrocodone are slowly tapered down via dose reduction in medical detox. A medical professional will slowly wean the drug out of the body in a controlled way in order to keep withdrawal symptoms controlled. There are also several medications approved to treat opioid dependence, which include:
A hydrocodone detox program first works to stabilize an individual physically, and generally lasts about a week. A comprehensive hydrocodone detox center will likely include both pharmaceuticals and holistic methods to accomplish this. For instance, a healthy diet plan, exercise program, and structured sleep schedule may all be included at a medical detox center to help the body heal faster, as may meditation, yoga, spa treatments, and/or massage therapy. Detox is likely to be smoother and go faster if all physical elements are attended to so that the psychological side effects of withdrawal and addiction can be managed as well.
The detox center should be only one part of a more comprehensive substance abuse treatment plan that will also include therapy, counseling, and relapse prevention techniques.