Behaviorally, the hallmarks of addiction include the addicted individual focusing a disproportionate amount of time, energy and resources on both seeking out and using hydrocodone. Addiction also usually results in a failure to meet important family, work and personal commitments.
In individuals with a lawful prescription, a sign of addiction includes taking the medication more regularly than prescribed (including getting pills from an additional doctor, or from friends, family or colleagues). Ceasing to use hydrocodone or reducing the amount of intake will likely result in withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Sleep problem
- Muscle aches
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) discusses, prescription painkiller overdose is a public health epidemic. In 2009, almost 500,000 Americans visited emergency rooms as a result of painkiller abuse. Each year, nearly 15,000 Americans die from an overdose related to prescription painkiller misuse (that’s more than heroin and cocaine deaths combined). More men than women overdose on prescription painkillers, and compared to the population as a whole, middle-aged Americans have the highest rate of overdose.
To help curb this epidemic, the CDC is encouraging health insurance providers and medical professionals to implement various safeguards against prescription painkiller abuse, such as coverage of, and doctor referrals to, physical therapy treatment and other alternatives to narcotic medication when possible. But Americans are best advised to be vigilant themselves. As the statistics on the negative health effects and overdose rates suggest, even though hydrocodone has made its entrance into American medicine cabinets through legitimate manufacturers and doctors’ offices, the drug can be as dangerous as street drugs that are unlawfully manufactured.