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Hydrocodone Abuse and Addiction

What is Hydrocodone?

When used as directed, hydrocodone is a potent opiate drug that serves two functions.

It is a cough suppressant and a pain reliever for moderate to severe pain. According to research, hydrocodone is:

  • For cough suppression, it is more effective than codeine.

  • In terms of pain relief, it is nearly as effective as morphine.


Hydrocodone is currently the most commonly prescribed opioid painkiller in the United States.


Hydrocodone, like all opiates, is the derivative of the poppy.


Still, it is classified as semi-synthetic because it does not occur naturally – hydrocodone is created by chemically modifying the codeine molecule.


Doctors frequently prescribe hydrocodone as part of a medication formulation containing other ingredients, such as acetaminophen.


Zohydro ER, a pure hydrocodone medication, was only recently approved for distribution.

Effects of Abusing Hydrocodone

Suppose a person who abuses hydrocodone takes the medication for a long enough period. In that case, their body and brain can adapt to the presence of the drug in their system.

It can change how it reacts to the drug through a process known as tolerance.

The following are the immediate side effects of hydrocodone misuse and abuse:

  • Hazy vision

  • Confusion

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Mouth dryness

  • Euphoria

  • Skin itch

  • Lightheadedness

  • Nausea

  • Nodding in and out of consciousness

  • Pinpoint pupils

  • Reduced rate of breathing

  • Seizures

  • Sleepiness

  • Heart rate has slowed

  • Speech slurred

  • Vomiting

  • Skin that's hot and flushed

Did You Know Rolling Hills Recovery Center Offers Treatment for Hydrocodone Abuse?

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Medically Reviewed:


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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Hydrocodone Statistics

  • Long-term hydrocodone abuse alters brain function and can have long-term effects on mood and thought patterns.

  • Long-term Hydrocodone abusers are more likely to suffer from insomnia, liver or kidney disease, depression, and anxiety.

  • Some mental disorders, such as insomnia and depression, can be treated with therapy and antidepressant medication. On the other hand, damage to the liver and kidneys is challenging to reverse and treat.

  • An overdose can occur if you take too much hydrocodone.

  • When the body cannot process all opioids in its system, breathing and heart rates can become dangerously low.

  • Overdose of hydrocodone may cause them to stop breathing in minutes, depriving their brains of oxygen (also known as hypoxia).

  • Although scientists discovered it in the 1920s, most scientists ignored the rate of hydrocodone addiction, overdose, and death until the 1960s.

  • Numerous reporters have published reports since then. The following are some significant hydrocodone abuse statistics:

More Facts About Hydrocodone

  • The most commonly prescribed opioid in the United States is Hydrocodone, with 83.6 million prescriptions in 2017.

  • In 2011, approximately 100,000 emergency room visits in the United States were attributed to hydrocodone combination products.

  • Since 2009, hydrocodone has been the second most common prescription opioid researchers find in drug evidence and submit to forensic laboratories.

  • Hydrocodone has made headlines recently due to the deaths of celebrities such as Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, and Brittany Murphy after using the drug.

  • Courtney Love, the rock singer, was famously arrested and charged with illegally possessing hydrocodone and other painkillers.

  • In addition, "Friends" star Matthew Perry checked into rehab in 1997 for hydrocodone addiction.

  • Addiction to the drug extends beyond the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Anyone can become addicted to hydrocodone.

  • Cindy McCain spoke to the nation about her former hydrocodone addiction involving Vicodin that began after two back surgeries while campaigning for her husband, Sen. John McCain.


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What is Hydrocodone?
Effects of abusing hydrocodone
Hydrocodone statistics
More facts about hydrocodone
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