Hydrocodone Addiction: Signs Symptoms and Treatment

Hydrocodone is an opioid medication used to treat pain. This substance belongs to a class of drugs known as narcotic analgesics (opioids) and acts on the central nervous system in the brain. While this medication helps treat severe cases of pain, it is also known to be extremely habit-forming. 

People who take this medication, even as prescribed, may become physically dependent on hydrocodone. When this happens, they experience symptoms of withdrawal if they stop taking the medication. The emergence of withdrawal symptoms can lead someone to begin abusing illicit opioid drugs to avoid experiencing hydrocodone withdrawal. 

Many people who aren’t prescribed this drug abuse it intentionally because of its euphoric, pain-relieving effects. Any type of long-term hydrocodone abuse can result in an addiction, and anyone who suffers from hydrocodone addiction should attend an opiate addiction treatment program. 

What Causes Hydrocodone Abuse?

Hydrocodone addiction is a type of opioid use disorder that stems from frequent hydrocodone abuse. As an individual takes more hydrocodone than they are prescribed, their body becomes accustomed to the presence of the substance. This leads to the development of a full-blown addiction. 

But what causes hydrocodone abuse?

The causes of hydrocodone abuse include:

  • Biological – Hydrocodone affects the reward system in the brain, so repeated use of the drug can lower the expression of dopamine. This causes individuals to feel like they need to use the substance to experience pleasure, happiness, or even just feel normal. 
  • Psychological – Hydrocodone addiction often stems from the self-medication of mental health conditions. People who suffered from childhood trauma or mental illnesses are more likely to develop an addiction. 
  • Social/Environmental – Experiencing peer pressure to use drugs, being around frequent opioid drug abuse, or living in a stressful and chaotic environment could lead to the abuse of this drug. 

What are the Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction?

Hydrocodone addiction is characterized by an impulsive need to continue using the substance despite facing the consequences of drug abuse. People who are addicted to this drug will continue using it even if they experience a worsening in their mental or physical health, financial issues, social isolation, and so on. 

Other signs of hydrocodone addiction include:

  • Strong cravings to use hydrocodone 
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the person cannot use the drug 
  • Physical and emotional dependence on the drug 
  • Inability to control or limit how much of the substance one uses 
  • Having to continually increase the dosage of hydrocodone to experience the desired effect (tolerance)
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor decision making 
  • Social isolation 
  • Engaging in dangerous behaviors to obtain hydrocodone 
  • Irritability, agitation, or mood swings 
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Headaches 
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about, obtaining, using, and recovering from the use of hydrocodone 
  • Hiding the use of hydrocodone 
  • Inability to complete daily tasks or work responsibilities due to drug use
  • Being unable to quit or cut back on using hydrocodone despite wanting to 

How is Hydrocodone Addiction Treated?

Prescription opioid addiction must be treated at a professional addiction treatment program. These programs include services such as detox, individual and group therapy, and relapse prevention planning. This combination of services ensures that patients receive the tools they need to gain and maintain long-term recovery from addiction. 


Hydrocodone addiction causes individuals to experience physical and psychological dependency. Because of this, when they stop using the drug they will experience withdrawal symptoms. 

The withdrawal symptoms associated with hydrocodone include:

  • Intense cravings for hydrocodone
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Body aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite changes
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

These symptoms can be extremely distressing if they are not properly treated. Without medical intervention, many people relapse during the withdrawal stage because the symptoms become unbearable. However, people who attend a detox program will receive medications that soothe the symptoms of withdrawal and prevent cravings from occurring.

Behavioral Therapy 

Once a patient has completed the detox process, they can begin recovering from the root causes of their addiction. First, they must uncover what caused their addiction in the first place. This is why individual therapy is a vital aspect of addiction recovery. 

When the root causes of their addiction are uncovered, clients will begin behavioral therapy to learn how to recover from their past traumas. These forms of therapy help people identify negative patterns of thought and turn them into positive ones. Additionally, they will learn about what triggers their drug abuse and receive coping mechanisms to help prevent them from feeling the need to abuse hydrocodone. 

In addition to individual therapy, patients will attend group counseling sessions. These sessions allow people to connect with others who are going through similar situations as them, allowing them to see that they are not alone. Group therapy also allows patients to receive advice from their peers and create healthy relationships with others. 

Relapse Prevention Planning 

Lastly, people undergoing hydrocodone addiction treatment will participate in relapse prevention planning. This is a process that provides patients with tools to prevent themselves from relapsing after they leave the treatment facility and begin their everyday lives.

Services included in a relapse prevention plan include, but are not limited to:

  • Continued therapy
  • Continued medication management if needed
  • List of triggers and coping skills to use 
  • List of sober supports to call in times of need
  • Alumni support groups to attend
  • Referrals to additional programs like outpatient treatment or sober living housing 
  • Referrals to addiction recovery support groups like AA or NA

Finding Help for Hydrocodone Abuse and Addiction 

Hydrocodone abuse can be difficult to beat, especially if you have a prescription for the drug. However, you or your loved one must attend a professional addiction treatment program that can help you learn how to live life without the use of opioid substances. 

Contact Moving Mountains Recovery Center today for more information on our opioid addiction treatment program in northern New Jersey.

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