Hydrocodone is the opioid painkiller found in Vicodin and a number of other medications.
Basic Facts About Hydrocodone
Prior to 2013, no product approved for use in the U.S. contained only hydrocodone as an active ingredient. Vicodin, for example, contains both hydrocodone and the pain reliever acetaminophen, while other products combine the opioid with aspirin or other non-opioid substances. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.
In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved the market entry of Zohydro ER, the first hydrocodone-only product in the U.S. In addition to suppressing the brain’s ability to send or receive pain signals, hydrocodone triggers euphoria in the brain’s pleasure center and slows down nerve cell activity in the brain and spinal cord (a fact that makes the substance suitable as a treatment for severe, unrelieved coughing). In the form of Vicodin, hydrocodone ranks as one of the most widely prescribed and abused prescription medications in America, contributing to what the Centers for Disease Control has characterized as an epidemic in medical and non-medical abuse of prescription painkillers.
Hydrocodone Addiction Onset
All opioids significantly alter the chemical make-up of the brain’s pleasure center. This effect largely accounts for the popularity of hydrocodone and other legal and illegal opioid substances as targets of abuse. Unfortunately, the pleasure center undergoes changes in its long-term function when repeatedly exposed to opioids. If exposure occurs often enough, the brain can start to expect opioids as part of its everyday operating conditions. Addiction specialists call this brain expectation opioid dependence. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.
While opioid dependence differs from opioid addiction, the presence of dependence sets the basic requirements for the eventual onset of hydrocodone addiction, including such things as a compelling urge to consume more hydrocodone (or another opioid substance), loss of the control needed to limit opioid consumption, the establishment of lifestyle choices centered on getting and using opiate drugs, rising tolerance to the effects of opioid intake, and a withdrawal syndrome that arises when not taking opioids.
Diagnosing Hydrocodone Addiction
People involved in Vicodin abuse and other forms of hydrocodone abuse seriously boost their risks for developing an opioid addiction. The American Psychiatric Association classifies this form of addiction as one of the main components of opioid use disorder, an officially diagnosable mental health condition.
Hydrocodone addiction (and addiction to other opioid substances) commonly overlaps with the same types of problems that appear in people who have a highly dysfunctional relationship with opioids but don’t suffer from physical dependence. For this reason, the opioid use disorder criteria give doctors the freedom to use the presence of either addiction symptoms or abuse symptoms as grounds for making a diagnosis. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.
If an affected individual has two or three symptoms of opioid abuse or addiction, he or she meets the terms used to identify mild opioid use disorder. If an affected individual has four or five of the relevant symptoms, he or she meets the terms for identifying a moderate form of the disorder. An affected individual with anywhere from six to a maximum of 11 relevant symptoms meets the terms for severe opioid use disorder.