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Warning Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse

Being an opioid, hydrocodone is a highly addictive drug. It is among the most commonly prescribed pain killers in United States. As a result, the number of people addicted to it is also high. Even people, who take it for therapeutic purposes exactly as prescribed by their physician, are at a risk of becoming addicted to it. Hydrocodone addiction can be difficult to detect since users think they are taking their usual dose of their medicine. But even people who know about their addiction tend to hide it to avoid the long haul of the treatment. If a love done is taking hydrocodone based drugs, it is important to strictly monitor their use to avoid the development of addiction.

Signs of hydrocodone abuse and addiction:

The intensity of hydrocodone addiction may range from mild to severe depending upon the duration and frequency of abuse. The effects produced by hydrocodone are similar to heroin and morphine since it targets the same part of brain. Regular use of this drug, even for therapeutic purposes, can lead to physical dependence. The drug interacts with the reward system of the brain and rewires it such a way that the user is no more able to feel happy or content without the drug. Millions of Americans abuse hydrocodone and similar drugs every day in an attempt to escape physical or psychological pain.

Prolonged abuse and addiction of hydrocodone is associated with a number of physical and psychological side effects which can be noticed in a loved one to pinpoint an addiction.

Behavioral signs:

  • The user becomes isolated and anti-social
  • The user fails to fulfill his duties
  • The user is no more able to maintain a positive relationship with his loved ones
  • The performance of the user at school or office significantly declines
  • The user fakes pain and goes doctor shopping in an attempt to get a prescription for hydrocodone
  • The user spends hefty amount of money on obtaining the drug
  • The user spends significant time on abusing the drug
  • The user goes through frequent mood swings
  • The user lies about his suspicious behavior when questioned
  • The user loses interest in activities he previously enjoyed

Psychological signs:

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Depression

Side effects of hydrocodone: Immediate and long term

The use of hydrocodone is associated with both long term and short term side effects. The intensity of these side effects may vary from mild to fatal.

Immediate side effects:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive aggression
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Inability to concentrate

Long term side effects:

Prolonged use of hydrocodone can produce permanent damage to the health of the user. Some psychological symptoms do not disappear even after years of quitting the drug use. Hydrocodone products have been known to be seriously damaging for the liver since they contain acetaminophen or Tylenol. Due to these harmful effects, the FDA has now limited the maximum amount of acetaminophen to 325mg that can be included in hydrocodone based drugs. Some other long term effects caused by hydrocodone use include:

  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Jaundice
  • Depression
  • Coma
  • Death

Hydrocodone overdose:

When ingested in large amounts, there is a great of overdosing. People who are tolerant to hydrocodone are at a greater risk of overdosing since they keep increasing the dosage amounts in an attempt to cope with tolerance. The capacity of the body to detoxify the drug is limited. When the drug is administrated in amounts higher than the body can process, toxicity is resulted. The signs of an overdose are same as the side effects of the drug just much greater in intensity. Some common signs of a hydrocodone overdose include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

If a person is spotted with the symptoms of an overdose, it is important to provide them immediate medical care by calling 911 otherwise, even death is possible.

Planning an intervention for hydrocodone addiction:

The basic problem with the addicts is that they do not realize that they are suffering from a very major issue. Even if they are aware of the negative consequences, they are not ready to approach any of the treatment facilities. Therefore, an intervention becomes necessary. There are some steps to be followed for an intervention. First, make a proper plan and invite all the family members, friends, psychologists, counselors and addiction specialists. Decide a suitable location. Make a list of points that will be said during the meeting. Schedule a date and time for the meeting. A careful planning is needed as the poorly planned meeting can further aggravate the situation. The addict may turn out to be more resistant towards the treatment or become more socially isolated.

The basic aim of the intervention is to focus on three major aspects.

  • To provide the examples of detrimental behaviors of an addict that have affected the health, family, relationships or work.
  • To offer a treatment plan with proper guidelines and clear steps.
  • Enforcement strategy, this involves the things that an addict will additionally face from the family, friends, and relatives if he refuses to accept the treatment plan.