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Hydrocodone Withdrawal and Detox

Hydrocodone is known to produce painful withdrawal symptoms (akin to a very severe flu) in people with a chemical dependency or addiction that may need detox.

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Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal That Require Detox

Misuse or abuse of hydrocodone can lead to physical dependence and addiction. A person who is physically dependent on hydrocodone will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they reduce their dose or cease taking the medication entirely. Addiction is a chronic, neurobiological disease that is characterized by behaviors such as inability to control drug use, continuing use despite negative consequences, and persistent cravings. The withdrawal symptoms of hydrocodone are essentially the opposite of the effects that the drug produces. For example, while hydrocodone abuse produces effects of euphoria, withdrawal induces depression. Likewise, misusing any Opioid can cause excessive fatigue, while withdrawal causes insomnia.

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After developing an addiction to hydrocodone, a person will need it to function normally and prevent withdrawal symptoms such as muscle aches, nausea, and anxiety or agitation.

Hydrocodone withdrawal occurs because the drug affects the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. Opioids stimulate these areas so much that when an individual stops taking them, he or she is unable to produce pleasurable sensations on their own. Because the body received these signals easily each time they took a hydrocodone pill, the brain learned it did not have to make these chemicals any longer. As a result, they experience a significant amount of discomfort as the brain and body learn to function without hydrocodone. This process is known as withdrawal and includes symptoms such as nausea and physical pain.

Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • General depression
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Teary eyes
  • Yawning
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What to Expect From Detox for Hydrocodone Withdrawal

Detox, designed to help people in recovery get through withdrawal safely and comfortably, is the first step in treating a hydrocodone addiction. Opiates are some of the most uncomfortable drugs to detox from and the side effects can be life-threatening without medical supervision. Because all opioids have similar effects on the body, withdrawal from different types of opioids (including prescription opioids and street drugs like heroin) affect the body in similar ways. As such, any facility that can treat opioid addiction and withdrawal can help someone suffering from hydrocodone withdrawal.

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can begin within 6 to 12 hours of the last dose and continue for up to 2 weeks.

Like the severity of symptoms, the length of withdrawal depends on a number of factors including: the length of time the user took hydrocodone, how much they typically took, how frequently they took the drug, whether they used alcohol or other drugs, their mental and medical history, and the method by which they took hydrocodone. Acute withdrawal from hydrocodone generally lasts between up to 2 weeks. Following this, any remaining symptoms, which can continue for 18 to 24 months, are referred to as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS).

Medical detox can ease the symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal and minimize the likelihood of a relapse.

The onset of withdrawal symptoms depends on the type of hydrocodone taken as well as how it was taken. Extended-release painkillers stay in the body longer, so withdrawal symptoms take longer to set in. Usually, painful withdrawal symptoms peak around 72 hours into detox and start retreating toward the end of the first week. Some chronic symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and some drug cravings may persist for weeks or months.

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Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline

First 48 hours During the first 24 hours of detox, there is usually mild stomach and muscle pain and often mild nausea, anxiety, depression, and flu-like symptoms. Some of the most challenging symptoms for many are cravings and anxiety.
Days 3 – 5 Day 3 is generally the peak of symptoms for acute withdrawal. Acute muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive sweating are common. For most, withdrawal begins to slowly subside on day 5. Diarrhea will likely stop, and pain will continue to subside. Emotional symptoms will still be present but may get better as physical sensations improve.
Days 6 – 14 Most physical symptoms will have subsided, leaving psychological ones at the forefront. Anxiety, depression, and a desire to return to drug use can present themselves in this time. Many people begin to struggle with intense feelings of shame and remorse for things they did and said while high during this time.
After first 2 weeks Depending on the person, psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, can linger for 18-24 months after stopping use. This is a symptom of PAWS and requires further therapy and long-term treatment.

Get Help Today

The first step to overcoming a hydrocodone addiction is getting through the withdrawal period. There are inpatient rehabs across the country that offer medical detox. Those with a mild addiction to hydrocodone may choose outpatient detox. This detox option allows people to get medications and checkups outside of a rehab center.

After detox, ongoing treatments can help former addicts build new life skills and learn to cope in a healthy way. Get in touch with a treatment provider to discuss available hydrocodone addiction options today.

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