Wondering how long does it take to get addicted to hydrocodone, which includes the drugs Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, and Lorcet? It is shocking how quickly someone can get hooked on these drugs, happening sometime as fast as a couple weeks. The path to hydrocodone addiction is very common. In fact, most of us have taken Vicodin for some reason or another in our lifetime. Doctors routinely prescribe Vicodin or some hydrocodone drug following a root canal, a surgical procedure, or an injury. Most of us are grateful when our doctor provides us with a prescription for opioid pain relievers like hydrocodone. The pain relief is swift, and is accompanied by a feeling of euphoria. The brain registers this euphoric response in its reward center as a desirable effect to be re-experienced.
However, in view of the rise in opioid addiction in recent years, it is time to reassess the use of hydrocodone medications. In truth, once the physical pain has subsided and the injury is resolved, the patient may have already developed an addictive response to the drug. They may believe they cannot manage without the hydrocodone and reflexively continue to take it. When they ask for a refill or two, many doctors are willing to approve them, only entrenching the drug-seeking behaviors. As the patient’s tolerance to the drug’s effects escalates, so does their dosing. Before long, the powerful grip of hydrocodone addiction has taken root. So, how long does it take to get addicted to hydrocodone? Not long at all, unfortunately.
Facts About Hydrocodone
Hydrocodone is a synthetic opioid, a narcotic analgesic designed to manage pain in patients following surgery or injury. It works by attaching to the opioid receptors in the spinal cord and brain, blocking the pain signals the body is sending. When taken as prescribed for a short duration, these drugs are effective and safe. The problem occurs when an individual becomes addicted to the euphoric effects of the drug and continues to seek that feeling.
Hydrocodone is most commonly prescribed in drugs that are combined with acetaminophen. Only Zohydro ER is pure hydrocodone medication. These drugs are widely available, and, with over 136 million prescriptions written in the U.S. in 2013, is the most prescribed drug in the country, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In fact, the DEA reports that more than 24 million Americans over the age of twelve have misused hydrocodone.
Hydrocodone works by suppressing the effects of physical pain through modifying the signaling in the central nervous system by the body’s opioid receptors. By blocking the pain signals, the perception of feeling pain is thwarted, explaining why these medications are welcomed following surgery or injuries. Unfortunately, the drugs in this category are also highly addictive.
Signs of Vicodin Addiction
It is important to understand how a hydrocodone addiction develops. Continued use of the drug leads to increased tolerance. This means that more of the drug is needed to experience the initial pain-relieving and euphoric effects desired. As the frequency of dosing increases, physical dependence or addiction can result. When someone abuses or develops an addiction to hydrocodone they may exhibit particular behaviors and symptoms. These might include:
- CONSTRICTED PUPILS
- SLOWED RESPIRATIORY RATE
- SLOWED HEART RATE
- SKIN RASH
- WITHDRAWING FROM SOCIAL ACTIVITIES, ISOLATING BEHAVIORS
- NEGLECTING RESPONSIBILITIES
- RINGING IN THE EARS
- NASAL CONGESTION
- MENTAL CONFUSION
- MEMORY PROBLEMS
- NAUSEA AND VOMITING
- CHRONIC CONSTIPATION
- BLURRY VISION
- WEIGHT LOSS OR GAIN
- OBSESSED WITH OBTAINING THE DRUG
- DOCTOR SHOPPING
- STEALING THE DRUGS FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY
- INTERPERSONAL PROBLEMS
- INCREASED DOSING
- INCREASED TOLERANCE
- DRUG CRAVINGS
- CONTINUED USE OF DRUG DESPITE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES
- EXPERIENCE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS IF DRUG NOT AVAILABLE
Knowing how long does it take to get addicted to hydrocodone can provide awareness of the drug’s potential for addiction, and to be watchful for these signs. When a cluster of these symptoms is present it indicates addiction or drug dependence.
The long-term effects of Vicodin addiction can be serious. Hydrocodone interferes with normal lung functioning, which can increase the risk of pneumonia or other respiratory conditions. Other long-term effects might include liver damage, kidney damage, narcotic bowel syndrome (includes vomiting, chronic constipations, distention, and nausea), and the increased risk of overdose.
Detoxing from Hydrocodone
When an individual decides to quit hydrocodone they will need to complete detox and withdrawal. Detoxification is the first step of breaking free from a Vicodin or Norco addiction, but attempting to go it alone is never wise. It is recommended that the individual seek out a medical detox program where withdrawal symptoms can be monitored throughout. During a medical detox, a team of detox professionals will provide the necessary medical interventions to help manage the pain and discomfort of the withdrawal symptoms, while also offering emotional support. Without this support, the discomfort caused by the withdrawal symptoms would otherwise result in a failure to complete the detox, as the individual choses to return to the drug for relief.
The detox process can take up to a week, with the symptoms emerging within 12 hours of the last dose and peaking on day three. Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:
- BONE, JOINT, OR MUSCLE PAIN
- PROFUSE SWEATING
- IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT
- NAUSEA AND VOMITING
- RUNNY NOSE
- WATERY EYES
- EXCESSIVE YAWNING
- ABDOMINAL PAIN
- ELEVATED BLOOD PRESSURE
- LOW MOOD
- CONCENTRATION PROBLEMS
- DRUG CRAVINGS
- SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
Without a supervised and supportive detox program the individual is likely to fail to complete the process, meaning they would not make it into a rehab program. This is the reason why a medically monitored detox program is recommended for individuals committed to entering recovery.
Treatment For Hydrocodone Addiction
Being treated for a hydrocodone addiction will require either an inpatient rehab program for more entrenched drug dependency, or an intensive outpatient program for a more or less severe problem. Detox alone will not result in a sustained recovery. Without tackling and changing the core addictive behaviors, long-term recovery is not possible.
Once the detox process is completed the individual will begin a program that will involve several types of therapy. In an inpatient program, the client will receive 24-hour support and a daily schedule of multiple therapeutic activities for an extended period of time. The structured environment gives clients a sense of security and keeps them engaged in working toward a healthy recovery.
During these one-on-one sessions the therapist will help the client identify underlying factors that might be driving the dependence on Vicodin, such as using it to self-medicate a mood disorder or a difficult emotional event or trauma.
One of the most effective treatment elements for addiction rehab involves meeting in small groups. A clinician or therapist leads the group and will introduce topics of discussion and encourage participation. Group therapy is an important source of peer support for individuals in addiction recovery.
By learning more about how a hydrocodone addiction develops individuals are better educated, which can help deter future drug use. During these classes new recovery skills and coping techniques will be taught that will equip clients for a sustained recovery.
RELAPSE PREVENTION STRATEGIZING
An important aspect of addiction recovery is for each individual to come up with a relapse prevention plan. By identifying certain known triggers, those situations, people, or places that might initiate a relapse, and writing them down, the client is better able to make actionable plans to avoid occasions that could threaten sobriety.
12-STEP PROGRAMMING AND MEETINGS
Whether it is an A.A. twelve-step group or an alternative program, participating in recovery meetings provides social support and fellowship.
INSPIRING GUEST SPEAKERS
Many rehabs invite guest speakers to help encourage and educate clients in the rehab setting. These individuals may be alumni from the rehab program or others who come to share their successes in recovery and help to inspire those in early recovery.
HOLISTIC THERAPIES, SUCH AS YOGA, MASSAGE, MINDFULNESS, DEEP-BREATHING, ART THERAPY
Most rehabs now include complementary therapies into their menu of treatment interventions, as these activities can further augment the overall clinical results. Many of these activities help clients reduce stress, teaching them techniques they can apply in recovery when faced with a stressful situation that might threaten recovery.
The advent of medication-assisted therapy has greatly increased the success rates of individuals in hydrocodone addiction recovery. These medications, such as buprenorphine or Suboxone, can help sustain sobriety and give the individual a better chance of restoring quality of life in recovery.
Without some balance, rehab would be difficult to endure. Having free time to get physical exercise and socialize is an intrinsic aspect of the treatment program. Many rehabs offer organized sports, swimming pools, hiking, golf, surfing, and other activities to provide much desired balance. Exercise is an excellent source of endorphin production, the feel-good chemical that is experienced when engaged in exercise, and that improves mood and sleep quality.
Aftercare for Hydrocodone Addiction Recovery
Once the rehab program has been successfully completed, the client will embark on the continuing care aspect of recovery. These are intrinsic to the long-term success of the client’s recovery outlook. Continuing care helps the client face future triggers, stressors, or life challenges by providing the peer support and counseling needed. Aftercare services might include:
SOBER LIVING HOUSING
Sober living is an excellent post-rehab action, as this transitional housing allows the individual time to adapt to their new sober lifestyle within a substance-free environment. In addition, strict zero tolerance policies and random testing help deter relapse.
ONGOING INDIVIDUAL AND/OR GROUP THERAPY
Outpatient therapy and group support is essential in recovery. These function as a step-down from a residential program, helping to provide continuity in care during early recovery. Each individual is certain to encounter certain challenges in recovery, and outpatient therapy offers a support system for managing these events.
PARTICIPATION IN RECOVERY COMMUNITY
Just as while in rehab, the recovery meetings serve an important function in recovery. These are free meetings, available throughout the country, and provide a valuable source of peer support. Recovery groups also offer the opportunity to meet new sober friends and to serve others in recovery.
CORE FAMILY SUPPORT
There is nothing as important to recovery success as having a supportive family and home environment. Family members are there when a client needs to share their feelings, frustrations, and fears in early recovery, an outlet that is so necessary for mental stability. The client in turn must be accountable to the family members and respect boundaries.
DEVELOPING SOBER FRIENDS AND ENGAGING IN SOBER LIFESTYLE ACTIVITIES
In recovery, it is up to each client to cultivate a new social network in recovery. There are plenty of sober groups and events to engage with. Check out sober MeetUp groups, sober gyms, sober social media communities and more.
REGULAR EXERCISE AND HEALTHY NUTRITION
Nutrition and exercise will assist in restoring overall health and wellness in recovery. Incorporate regular exercise into the daily or weekly routine, and avoid fast food, processed foods, sugar-laden foods and beverages, and limit caffeine for improved health.
By accessing these resources, the client will have multiple sources of support to help them manage the unforeseen challenges that could threaten sobriety. Tending to newfound sobriety is akin to tending a garden. Water it, fertilize it, prune it and watch it blossom.
Solutions 4 Recovery Provides Evidence-Based Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction
Solutions 4 Recovery is an addiction and dual diagnosis recovery program based in Orange County, California. Solutions 4 Recovery utilizes an integrated approach to treating addiction to Vicodin, Lorcet, Norco and other hydrocodone drugs. This entails a carefully planned individualized treatment strategy that combines evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), with holistic therapies to further augment the impact of the traditional interventions. If you are wondering how long does it take to get addicted to hydrocodone, or any other questions about addiction and treatment, please contact Solutions 4 Recovery today at (888) 417-1874.