Hydrocodone is an opioid drug. People use them to relieve moderate to severe pain as well as to suppress a dry cough. According to Drug Enforcement Administration, Hydrocodone is the opiate with the most frequent prescription in the United States.
Presently, it is available only by prescription. Unfortunately, long term use carries the risk of addiction, dependence, and tolerance. Consequently, the chances of misuse or overdosing are high. Therefore, doctors recommend a cautionary use. As a result, you should learn about the effects of Hydrocodone in detail before you start to take it.
What are the Different Effects of Hydrocodone?
The Good Effects
Hydrocodone is a stronger pain reliever than its source, codeine. It expresses its beneficial effects by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. Like the parent drug codeine, Hydrocodone also acts on the cough center in the brain to suppress a dry cough.
The short term effects of hydrocodone are primarily due to its action on the opioid receptors. Oddly enough, it does not change the cause of the pain, rather modifies how you perceive it. Some common short-term effects are:
- Feelings of euphoria
- Freedom from stress
- Increased sleepiness
The euphoric feelings from hydrocodone are the ones responsible for its addiction potential. In simple words, you want more “highs”.
The Bad Effects
The bad Hydrocodone effects mostly come from the respiratory, cardiovascular, nervous, and digestive systems.
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For the ease of gauging severity and incidence, we can categorize the side effects of Hydrocodone into:
Major Side Effects: These effects can be potentially serious. Therefore, consult your doctor right away if you experience any of the followings while you are on Hydrocodone:
- Breathing problems
- Chest discomfort
- Depressive thoughts
- Excessive weakness
- Fever and chills
- Increased nasal discharge or congested nose
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Swollen face or limbs
- Unusual fear or feeling very nervous
Note: These side effects are generally less common.
Minor Side Effects: These effects are not serious in nature and tend to wane as your body acclimates to the drug. Nevertheless, if any of the following symptoms persist or cause you significant worry, you need to talk to your doctor.
- Problems with bowel evacuation
Less commonly, you may also have:
- Abnormal muscle contraction
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Reduced salivation
- Upset stomach
- Urinary problems like blood in urine, increased urine frequency or pain while urinating
Note: Many of the minor side effects subside with time and may not require specific care. Do you think there are ways to reduce incidence or severity of these effects? You can talk to your doctor.
What are the Ugly Effects of Hydrocodone?
These effects do not necessarily occur in every patient who takes this drug. You can categorize the major effects that put Hydrocodone in the red zone as:
Overdosing: Being an opioid, there is a significant risk of overdose with Hydrocodone. People who became addicts of the drug may also take larger quantities of it. Users do it in an attempt to get a “high”. Hydrocodone overdose is a very serious condition that warrants emergency medical care especially when taken together with alcohol. The following signs and symptoms generally indicate cases of overdose:
- Blurry vision
- Bluish discoloration of lip and nails
- Altered consciousness
- Mental confusion
- Reduced pupil size
- Decreased response to stimuli such as light or sound
- Excessive sweating
- Slowed heart rhythm
- Abnormal breathing pattern
- Feeling very drowsy or losing consciousness
Long Term Effects: The long term Hydrocodone effects arise primarily due to its addiction potential. Like morphine, codeine, hydromorphone and other opioids, Hydrocodone can also lead to addiction even when you use it as recommended. As your body starts acclimatizing with the euphoric feelings, your body demands more of the drug to meet its expectations. As a result, you develop a tolerance which ultimately leads to addiction. Immediate health effects of Hydrocodone are of limited significance. This is when you compare it to the effects of addiction. Addiction will adversely affect your health as well as your social and personal life. In essence, it takes you into a vicious cycle of hardships.
The long-term effects of Hydrocodone addiction include:
- Strained Relations: Addiction makes you self-centered, isolated and keeps you away from the social circle. You become less responsible towards your duties and tend to only focus on ways to get high. All these can wreak havoc on your relations and social life.
- Mental Health Issues: The drug can increase stress, guilt, and feelings of low self-esteem. Drug addicts have a greater risk for depression, anxiety and suicidal tendency than the general population. The negative feelings tends to increase the lower you go on the socioeconomic ladder.
- Legal Issues: Possession or consumption of drugs is an illegal activity. Things turn uglier when you indulge in theft or burglary to obtain the drug.
- Financial Burden: The cost of drug and possible loss of job both put you in a financial crisis.
- Social isolation and rejection from society: Addiction is still a taboo. Furthermore, people in our society take addiction as more of a social issue rather than a health issue. It’s not only you who has to bear the brunt but also your family members and relatives. The feeling of having brought them down fuels guilt which again increases your need for the drug.
What Can You Do?
There are so many things you can do to get out of the addiction. Remember, the road to recovery starts with you. Therefore, do not think anymore, take the first step and good changes will usually follow. Seek professional help as your solo efforts may not be sufficient to defeat your urges.
Hydrocodone addiction is a chronic disorder that requires a team effort from family, friends and concerned healthcare professionals. A combination of medications and a strong support system often works wonders to help you live a drug-free life.
Are you or anyone in your family fighting against the effects of Hydrocodone? Talk to the experts near you. For help, click here for more.