Why Is Hydrocodone An Opiate To Respect And Fear?

Articles, Australia, International, Understanding Addiction

Let us take a look at a highly effective painkiller and address some answers to the question: Why is hydrocodone an opiate that should be treated with caution?

What is hydrocodone?

It is a semi-synthetic opioid that is derived from codeine. This is one of the more commonly known opioid alkaloids found in the opium poppy.

It acts as a powerful narcotic painkiller and works very effectively by interfering with your central nervous system pain signals. When taken it prevents nerves in the body from sending pain signals to the brain.

While it is prescribed on its own it is often combined with other drugs. Two examples are by adding acetaminophen. This combination works in a two-fold way.

The acetaminophen helps to calm a person’s mood, and it boosts the effects of hydrocodone’s painkilling abilities. The prescribed drug Vicodin is an example of this combination.

It is also commonly used in lower quantities with antihistamines and sold over the counter in pharmacies as cough medicine and medicine which is used to give relief from pain caused by coughing.

So why is hydrocodone an opiate to be feared?

This is because of the very strong addictive properties it contains. Those using hydrocodone should only do so as prescribed by their health practitioner. It is also very important to be fully aware of the drug’s potential for addiction.

When it comes to recreational use many users may be aware of its addiction qualities, but this is certainly not stopping it being abused. Indeed, it is claimed that hydrocodone is the most abused opiate in the United States.

Is there a difference between dependence and addiction?

When asking this question there can be confusion. Even medical authorities are changing these terms because of such confusion.

It is generally felt that when the word “dependence” is used this is referring to a physical dependence upon a substance. Such dependence is marked by symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal.

Even though it is accepted that some users have a physical dependence on a drug it is also acknowledged that they are not classed as being addicted to it. Having said this it is also the case that addiction is very likely to follow dependence.

Addiction is generally acknowledged when biochemical changes take place in the brain after continual substance abuse.

Such addiction is seen in a person’s behaviour, their all-consuming need that prioritises the abused drug above everything else and irrational acts when they do not have the substance in their system.

Why is hydrocodone an opiate you become so quickly addicted to?

This is because it creates effects very similar to heroin and morphine although the intensity of the hydrocodone ‘hit’ and its associated highs are slightly lower.

Euphoria, relaxation and being at one with the world are common feelings that recreational users chase. The problem is that with regular use the mind and body quickly become tolerant of the drug.

Such tolerance often means that mentally you are quickly convinced that another hit is due, and physically you will begin to feel withdrawal symptoms if you do not feed your need.

The more often you take, the more you want, and quickly it becomes evident that you require more hydrocodone simply to achieve the same feelings as previous ‘highs’.

When such a cycle continues you are facing hydrocodone dependence and addiction.

If you are in this position or feel that hydrocodone is beginning to take over your life it is absolutely vital you seek the help of your medical practitioner. Better still, take a long look at the services offered by a professional rehabilitation centre.

Is hydrocodone an opiate to be messed with?

The answer here is very clear: NO! Many users have an attitude of “It will never happen to me”.

Sadly, while experimenting with hydrocodone on its own is bad enough, many users take an even more damaging step and begin to mix the drug with other illicit substances or alcohol in their effort to reach an even ‘higher high’.

It is true that this can be achieved, but please understand that you are also leaving yourself open to serious psychological and physical damage that has resulted in many fatalities caused by overdose.

Side effects:

Similar to other opiates, hydrocodone comes with a variety of side effects that affect different users in different ways. Some of the more common are feeling nauseous, constipation, a runny nose, chills or sweating and derogatory changes to your diet.

There are a whole host of other side effects that can rise in seriousness such as increased anxiety, feelings of depression and insomnia. Those suffering from such effects must seek professional help either from a rehabilitation centre or their doctor very quickly.

Is hydrocodone an opiate you can withdraw from easily?

The truthful answer is that it is easier to withdraw from hydrocodone than it is to stay clean from thereon in.

This is why the withdrawal process should be seen as just part of your ongoing rehab care. It is common for a medical practitioner to taper your dose. This means gradually reducing the amount taken over a given timescale.

While this is certainly a step in the right direction many feel it is simply not enough to see your doctor once a week while trying to kick your hydrocodone habit.

One major reason here is that in all likelihood you will be living in the same environment you became addicted in and temptation will be everywhere.

Consider a residential rehab clinic:

While tapering will be used to lessen your withdrawal symptoms when you enroll as an inpatient at such an establishment there are a host of other mental, physical and spiritual aspects included during your stay.

Caring councillors and medical staff fully understand what you are going through. Their mission is to help you manage what is undoubtedly a testing time of your life.

Just as importantly they realise how vitally important aftercare is when it comes to keeping you off hydrocodone.

When considering inpatient rehabilitation establishments it is very important that you look at the aftercare options offered. You should choose one that gives a variety of options.

Is hydrocodone an opiate addiction you can beat?

Without a shred of doubt the resounding answer to this final question is: YES!

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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