Hydrocodone is an opioid that is listed in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. Medications that contain this narcotic combined with other non-narcotic ingredients are listed in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. In the United States alone, there are over two hundred drugs on the market that contain hydrocodone.
Some of the products that are commonly combined with hydrocodone are:
- hydrocodone + acetaminophen = Vicodin and Lortab
- hydrocodone + aspirin = Lortab ASA
- hydrocodone + ibuprofen = Vicoprofen
- hydrocodone + antihistamines = Hycomine
Hydrocodone is available in tablet as well as in capsule and liquid forms (Tussionex). The Schedule II drug is pure hydrocodone. Consequently, this narcotic is tightly controlled and hydrocodone on this level is not easy to obtain. However, when combined with other non-narcotic medication under Schedule III classification, laxer regulation makes them easier to obtain and hence results in more hydrocodone abuse through Lortab and Vicodin.
If you try to remove this drug from your body, you will experience withdrawal–which includes feeling ill and getting strong cravings for the drug. If you don’t cave to these cravings, you can experience more severe withdrawal symptoms that in some cases can even be life-threatening. This is why it is extremely important to withdrawal from hydrocodone during professional hydrocone addiction treatment.
When your body is presented with opioids like hydrocodone, there are three kinds of receptors in your brain that are activated. Named for Greek letters, your Mu, Kappa, and Delta receptors are activated in response to any kind of opioids–including illegal drugs like heroin and prescription drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone. When these receptors are activated, they induce analgesic and euphoria.
Prolonged activation of these sites causes the brain to respond in a way that causes two phenomena: tolerance and dependency. As the brain is exposed to opioids more frequently, it causes it to need higher doses to achieve the same analgesic and euphoric qualities. In addition, the brain starts to become dependent upon the opioids, and to experience painful withdrawal symptoms when it is removed. Because of the lack of strict control, more widespread hydrocodone abuse occurs in the form of over-prescription, theft, “doctor shopping” and forged prescriptions.
In 1923, the first report appeared linking hydrocodone to addiction and advising that use of this drug can result in noticeable euphoria. In 1961, the first report about hydrocodone addiction was published in the United States. In 2002, an estimated 4.5 million individuals (aged 12 and over) were reported to have used hydrocodone for nonmedical reasons at some point in their lifetime. Hydrocodone, which is considered to be similar in morphine in all respects, have a laundry list of side effects. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- nausea and vomiting
- decreased sex drive
- emotional dependence
- difficulty breathing
- tightness in chest
- severe dizziness or weakness
- mood swings
Symptoms of hydrocodone overdose are:
- kidney problems
- liver failure
- slow heartbeat
- troubled breathing
- low blood pressure
- heart problems
- extreme sleepiness possibly resulting in coma
- cold, clammy skin