Hydrocodone is one of the most prescribed painkillers on the market today. Patients prescribed this drug suffer from moderate to severe pain symptoms. It is often combined with other pain relievers such as acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is a narcotic and can cause a physical dependence, making it extremely addictive.
Over time, a person’s body builds a tolerance to narcotic pain-relieving medications. When you need to take more of the medication than prescribed to get the same euphoric effects, it creates a physical dependence. Therefore, a lot of patients continue taking this drug long after their symptoms have been relieved.
Once a person tries to stop taking hydrocodone, withdrawal symptoms begin to emerge. Many of them are so unpleasant that it forces the person back onto the medication. The brain may create phantom pains or make it seem as if a previous injury has not healed completely. The drug changes the brain chemistry to become physically dependent on it.
Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms can begin in as little as a few hours after the last dose was taken. If a person’s body is starting to withdraw almost immediately after they come down, it is going to compel them to take more right away. This is what makes hydrocodone so addictive.
Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches and soreness
- Joint pain
- Cold flashes
Of course, the harshness of the withdrawal is dependent on how long you have been taking the drug. The withdrawal can mimic flu-like symptoms, or be mild and cause a little discomfort for a few days.
If you are addicted to the opioid, symptoms start to appear between 6-48 hours after your last dose and can take as long as a week before you start to feel normal. Since some hydrocodone medications are extended release, it can take longer before the person starts to feel any effect from the withdrawal.
Depression and anxiety can last weeks or even months after the person has stopped taking hydrocodone. It takes a while for the brain to regain its normal chemistry levels. Neurotransmitters and chemical imbalances have to restore themselves.
Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline
Most people who suffer with an addiction to opioids want to know how soon withdrawal symptoms will go away. Fear of withdrawal is what keeps a lot of addicts going back to their drug of choice, even in the face of serious physical and social consequences.
The time it takes for you to overcome symptoms depends on a lot of factors. Your age, health, height, weight, metabolism, your liver function, and more.
Here is a basic timeline of hydrocodone withdrawal:
- First 48 hours: Within the first 48 hours, your symptoms will appear. It could be as little as 6 hours, depending on how long you have been taking the medication. You will start to feel tightness in your muscles and joints. The withdrawal symptoms will continue to worsen over the next several hours.
- 3-5 days in: This is usually the time period when opioid drug withdrawal begins to peak. If there is a buildup of toxins within the body, you may start vomiting. The shakiness, muscle aches, and flu-like symptoms will be evident and at their maximum level on these days.
- 6-7 days in: As you reach the one-week point, the physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal will have started to subside. You will start to feel more like yourself, but the battle is not over. The mind is still clearing.
- 8+ days in: Depression and anxiety, as well as shame, has been known to persist beyond the physical consequences of addiction. These mental symptoms can last as long as a month. Cravings for more hydrocodone will most likely be present, but at a much more manageable level and without physical withdrawal.
The physical dependence caused by opioids will often require detox. In many cases, withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. It may impact both the mind and the body for up to a month. By undergoing a proper detox regiment, the symptoms can be managed. Going ‘cold turkey’ is never recommended.
Medically supervised detox is the best course of action. There is even an option called ‘rapid detox’ that puts a patient under sedation during the worst part of the withdrawal symptoms so they do not feel it. Other medications can be prescribed by a medical detox team that helps treat the patient to make the process less intense.
Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction
If you are addicted to hydrocodone or any other opioid medications, it is highly recommended that you attend a treatment facility. It is more than just getting away from the physical symptoms, but strong emotions of anxiety and depression often follow. You need a plan created by medical professionals that will allow you to detox and overcome your addiction for good.