What Type of Drug is Hydrocodone? Schedule and Classification

Last Updated: June 16, 2020

Authored by Olivier George, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Hydrocodone is a narcotic analgesic and centrally-acting antitussive that can be habit-forming. This medication is associated with a number of serious adverse effects including life-threatening breathing problems. Misuse of the drug can lead to overdose and death.
In addition to generic formulations and hydrocodone brand names, the drug is available in a number of combination products. What class is hydrocodone? Read on to learn more about the type, classification, and schedule of this drug.

Hydrocodone: Is It a Controlled Substance?

The Controlled Substances Act was enacted in 1970 and lists drugs and other substances whose manufacture, possession, and use are controlled by the United States Government. Controlled substances are divided into five schedules based on their accepted medical use and potential for abuse. Hydrocodone schedule II means its misuse can lead to severe physical and psychological dependence and this drug has a high potential for abuse.
Combination opioid analgesic products, for example, hydrocodone homatropine syrup, are some of the most prescribed medicines in the United States. Until 2014, combination products were classified as schedule III drugs, indicating a lower risk of abuse compared to schedule II drugs. However, analysis by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) showed that the addition of non-opioid medications to narcotic analgesics in combination products does not reduce the potential for misuse. To increase awareness and limit over-prescription, combination products were also classified as schedule II drugs in 2014.

Is Hydrocodone a Narcotic?

Hydrocodone drug class is a narcotic analgesic used to treat pain that cannot be controlled with other medications. Hydrocodone is a fast-acting medicine that begins working in 10-20 minutes. Peak effect is obtained in about 1 hour and pain relief lasts for 4-8 hours.
white hydrocodone pills on the tableNarcotics are substances that induce narcosis (insensibility). They are mind-altering compounds that induce sleep. This class of drugs induce drowsiness and relieve pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Besides weakening pain signals, narcotics create a feeling of intense euphoria and elation, which makes them highly addictive. Narcotics is an older term that is often negatively associated with illegal drugs.

Is Hydrocodone an Opiate?

Hydrocodone is not an opiate. It is a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic that is made by chemically modifying naturally occurring opiates. Opiates are natural opium derivatives extracted from the poppy plant. Examples of opiates include codeine and morphine.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid?

Hydrocodone classification is a semi-synthetic opioid with a structure and function similar to morphine and codeine.
Opioids bind to the same receptors in the central nervous system as opiates. However, opioids do not occur naturally. Rather, they are either semi-synthetic or synthetic. Synthetic opioids are manufactured entirely in the laboratory. Semi-synthetic opioids are manufactured by a chemical modification of naturally occurring opiates.

Is Hydrocodone an NSAID?

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) reduce pain, fever, and inflammation. They are available over-the-counter as ibuprofen and aspirin. Hydrocodone is not NSAID or muscle relaxant. However, this opioid analgesic is available by prescription in combination products such as Vicoprofen which contains the opioid and ibuprofen.

Recovery from Opioid Addiction

People who become addicted to narcotic analgesics try to buy themprescription opioid painkiller pills on the blue background on the street if the Hydrocodone prices are affordable. Some addicts even attempt making the drug in home laboratories with hydrocodone ingredients. These are dangerous practices. Opioid analgesics are prescription medications and their use must be carefully supervised by a doctor.
Long-term misuse of opioids changes the way the brain perceives pain. In addition, opioid abuse puts a person at risk of cardiac and respiratory arrest, overdose, and death. Addicts who are dependent on opioids must undergo drug detoxing at addiction treatment centers. If the drug is withdrawn suddenly after prolonged use, it can produce many unpleasant symptoms. Professional hydrocodone withdrawal help can manage these symptoms as well as cravings to ensure long-term recovery from opioid analgesic abuse.

Page Sources

  1. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2014/fr0822.htm

Published on: September 21st, 2018

Updated on: June 16th, 2020

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


Leave a comment