Today we are facing a crisis in the United States regarding addiction to painkillers, especially opiates like hydrocodone. Today the rate of addiction to hydrocodone, which is the main ingredient in many of the most highly prescribed painkillers used today, is spiraling up out of control. Today, over 2 million people are thought to be addicted to hydrocodone, and the numbers are rising.

Initially, drugs like Vicodin, which contain hydrocodone, were prescribed widely as they were seen as an effective way to relieve the distress of patients who were enduring chronic issues with pain.

Unfortunately, however, these same painkillers were prescribed widely, without concern for the consequences. Eventually, the drugs began to have a high street value, when it was found that they could be crushed and then injected or inhaled for a great “high.” The large amounts of the medication available drove up the use of hydrocodone as a recreational drug, with the result that many of the users became dangerously addicted. The good news is that there is hope for those addicted through detox, but safely detoxing from hydrocodone involves special care and the supervision of healthcare professionals.

Detoxing from Hydrocodone

Addiction to hydrocodone is a very serious issue. A person who uses the drug regularly in order to achieve a “high” will initially experience feelings of euphoria as the brain releases higher levels of the chemical dopamine. As the use continues, however, the addict’s brain will develop a tolerance to the drug, and it can become harder and harder for the user to get the same euphoric “high” from the drug use. This is when the addict enters into a vicious cycle, as it takes more and more of the drug to achieve a high, and a real dependence on using the drug takes place. As dependence on the drug grows, the addict will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug starts to wear off, and the only way to deal with the symptoms is to use more of the drug. This is the cycle of addiction, and it is a very serious situation that poses great danger to an addicted person.

How Long Does Detox Take?

Withdrawal symptoms that commence once an addict stops using the drug can vary from user to user, depending on how serious their addiction is. The way the drug was ingested, and how long a period the addiction went on are also factors in the length of time it takes to detox. A user who took the drug through an injection, or by smoking it could experience more severe withdrawal symptoms than someone who only took pills.

A Central Nervous System Depressant

Hydrocodone is an opiate, and this type of drug acts to depress the central nervous system, bringing down the heart rate level, blood pressure rate, breathing level and even lowering body temperature. When the use of the drug stops, the body will suddenly “wake up” and this is what causes withdrawal symptoms, as the body goes into an overstimulated state. The symptoms can include a rapid spike in all the systems that were depressed, like blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory levels, which is why going “cold turkey,” without any medical supervision can be dangerous.

Drug withdrawal symptoms will start about six to twelve hours after the last dose of a drug is taken. The peak of the withdrawal episode, with the most intense symptoms, will start after twelve hours, and can go on for a week or more. Without the help of a mental health professional, the emotional symptoms and cravings for the drug can continue on for over a month. The symptoms of withdrawal in a seriously addicted person can include anxiety, mood swings, depression, agitated feelings, sweating, headaches, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and an elevated heart rate. None of these symptoms are pleasant, and they can be dangerous if not carefully monitored.

Medications Used When Detoxing From Hydrocodone

Due to the dangers that can come from a “cold turkey” approach to detox from hydrocodone, medically supervised detox is recommended. When an addict goes through detox in a rehab center, they may be taken off the drug slowly, to help ease the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Some medications may also be given, like drugs with Buprenorphine, as these drugs keep the symptoms from being so severe, without bringing on a “high.”

After the addicted person has completed detox, they should go through recovery in a treatment center that offers counseling services. Real recovery from addiction can only happen when a person’s system is free from intoxicants and they can think and feel clearly. With the help of caring and expert counselors, an addicted person can start to really deal with the issues driving their addiction, and embrace a life that is totally sober and drug free.