Health Effects

Health Effects Addiction Treatment

People who become addicted to hydrocodone will suffer from the mental and physical effects of the drug.

In people who are not suffering from pain, hydrocodone abuse has increased more than 200 percent in the last year alone.

Addictions to this substance can be serious and more than 85 percent of hydrocodone addicts will need to have professional treatment to help them overcome their addiction. Hydrocodone is an opiate and used for the control of mild to moderate pain. The substance is also found in many cough suppressants. In all respects, hydrocodone is considered to be morphine-like.

It is possible to develop an addiction to this drug within four days of repeated use. Overcoming the addiction can take months, sometimes years for many addicts. Over 40 percent of hydrocodone addicts will not overcome their psychological addiction to the drug even after successful detox.

Hydrocodone addiction has many side effects while using the substance, included but not limited to:

  • Constipation
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased performance mentally and physically
  • Dizziness
  • Emotional dependence
  • Mood changes
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulties urinating and breathing
  • An exaggerated sense of well-being
  • Dry throat, nausea and vomiting
  • Sedation
  • Fear

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

When a person develops an addiction to the substance, there will be short- and long-term effects on the body and mind.

Hydrocodone addiction has increased by more than 150 percent, accounting for more than 60 percent of all drug addictions in the United States. The addiction is often accidental, formed by someone who has been prescribed a pain medication. Since the drug addiction can form quickly, more than 75 percent of people who have a prescription for hydrocodone will end up developing a dependency to the substance. The effects of the drug are similar to morphine.

When the drug in ingested, addicts can experience the following short-term effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Euphoria
  • Lightheadedness

Hydrocodone can cause a lot of damage to the body if the addiction is left untreated. Based on information from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the long-term effects of hydrocodone addiction include:

  • Liver damage, especially when high doses are being used
  • Hearing loss
  • Addiction
  • Increased tolerance, causing the user to take higher doses of the drug to achieve euphoria

Research has also indicated that using hydrocodone while pregnant can increase the chances of birth defects such as cardiovascular and pulmonary problems in the infant.

Signs and Symptoms

When the drug is taken at high dosages or by patients who are sensitive to it, there is a high risk of respiratory depression. One in every five addicts will experience this effect. The drug has a direct affect on the brain stem respiratory center. One of the most common effects of hydrocodone is shallow and irregular breathing.

In a small percentage of addicts, fewer than 20 percent, life-threatening respiratory depression can occur.

The addict will then begin to show various hydrocodone addiction warning signs, including somnolence, cold and clammy skin and increasing levels of lethargy. Following these symptoms, the addict will begin to experience slowed heart rates and respiratory rates. These symptoms could then result in cardiac arrest, though this only occurs in fewer than five percent of addicts.

Importance of Treatment to Prevent Effects

When a person is addicted to hydrocodone, it is important to receive medical drug treatment help. If the addiction is left untreated, liver damage can occur.

The liver will become toxic when the drug is used at high dosages and toxicity will peak in 48 to 72 hours if the problem is not treated. There have been reports of hydrocodone addicts dying due to fatal liver disease that was caused by the addiction. Repeated use of the drug will cause dependence. Very few addicts, fewer than 10 percent, will be able to overcome their addiction without professional residential drug rehab help. Increased cravings will cause the addict to use even more of the substance, increasing the chances of suffering long-term health effects by more than 30 percent. However, addicts who suddenly stop using the drug will experience withdrawal symptoms that could be severe.

Withdrawal symptoms are not fatal, but they are very unpleasant and include:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Having a very hard time breathing
  • Sweating
  • Intense vomiting and stomach cramping
  • Palpitations
  • A lack of concentration and diminished mental abilities
  • Increased and intense cravings for the drug

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