Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic (partially man-made) opioid derived from codeine, which is a naturally occurring derivative of morphine. All opioids are derivatives of opium, which comes from poppy plants. This means that all opioids are narcotics and that the effects of hydrocodone are similar to the effects of all other opioids. Medically, opioids are used to treat moderate to severe pain and as cough suppressants. The effects of hydrocodone are used almost exclusively to treat pain. The drug is often found in combination with acetaminophen or some other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug used to treat pain. Vicodin contains both acetaminophen and hydrocodone and is the drug most commonly associated with hydrocodone abuse.
The effects of hydrocodone can lead to addiction. Hydrocodone is a narcotic addiction and so the effects of hydrocodone are similar to those seen with addiction to drugs like morphine, OxyContin and heroin. Dependence on hydrocodone results from physiological adaptation of the body to the presence of the drug over prolonged periods of time. When an individual with a physical dependence attempts to stop hydrocodone abruptly, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms. Common opioid withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, diarrhea, tremor, vomiting, pain and dysphoria.
Addiction may stem from physical dependence, but it doesn’t have to. Addiction is a complex set of abnormal behaviors. It results from misuse of drugs and from increasing tolerance to the effects of a drug over time. Individuals suffering from addiction feel compelled to use a drug for reasons beyond physical dependence and will risk life, social connections and finances to gain access to the drug. Addicts continue to take hydrocodone despite negative consequences.
Hydrocodone abuse is slightly different from addiction in that the user is able to stop consuming the drug and is not compelled to take it. This does not mean the user isn’t physically dependent on the drug or that the drug is not producing negative consequences in the user’s life. Abuse simply means that a person is experiencing negative consequences as a result of substance use, but that he or she is capable of stopping.
Common signs of opioid addiction include increasing tolerance to the effects of the drug, changes in mental health, mood swings, nausea and vomiting, constipation, itching, difficulty breathing and withdrawal from normal activities. Common environmental signs of hydrocodone abuse include discarded hypodermic syringes, burnt spoons, burnt straws, the presence of pills that aren’t prescribed to the user and the presence of other drugs (e.g. marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.).
Opioid withdrawal is characterized by sweating, nausea, runny nose, tremors, vomiting, pain, and dysphoria (feelings of sadness). Another common symptom of withdrawal is hyperalgesia, a condition in which normal sensations are magnified to the point that they cause intense pleasure or intense pain. Painful or overly sensitive genitalia are common manifestations of hyperalgesia. It is important to remember that opioids purchased on the street may be contaminated with other substances, so withdrawal from opioids may also include withdrawal from other substances.
The short-term effects of opioid use include respiratory depression, anxiety, depression and even death. Long-term use of opioids includes all of the short-term effects, as well as risks of serious withdrawal symptoms. Both long and short-term use can lead to injection drug use, which puts users at high risk of diseases like hepatitis and HIV (the virus that causes AIDS).
Treatment for opioid addiction usually includes both medical and psychological care. Medical care focuses on reducing the symptoms of withdrawal through the administration of medications like Suboxone, methadone, and Naltrexone. The goal of medical therapy is to reduce withdrawal symptoms to make it easier for individuals to abstain from opioid use.
The goal of psychological treatment is to reduce the cravings and other mental factors that exacerbate addiction and prolong drug abuse. Psychological treatment provides tools for dealing with the behavioral aspects of addiction. It also provides moral support to those wanting to stop their drug use and can help individuals mend broken relationships.
Call Commack Drug Treatment Centers today at 631-729-7139.