Hydrocodone belongs to a class of drugs known as narcotic analgesics, which means it is a pain medication. While hydrocodone is effective in treating the symptoms of pain, it is also an opioid drug. Because of the way that opioids affect your central nervous system, hydrocodone is known to be habit-forming and highly addictive.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioid drugs including prescription opioids like hydrocodone were involved in 80,411 overdose deaths in 2021.
When you are addicted to hydrocodone, your brain becomes accustomed to the presence of the substance. This means that if you abruptly stop taking the substance, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. Knowing how long hydrocodone withdrawal lasts and how a drug detox center can help might motivate you to seek the support you need.
Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal
The symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe depending on a variety of factors. For example, if you abuse hydrocodone for years your symptoms might be more severe than an individual who was only abusing the drug for a few months.
Semi-synthetic opioid drugs like hydrocodone bind to opioid receptors in your central nervous system. This causes you to experience side effects like a reduced breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. If you are addicted to hydrocodone, suddenly stopping the drug can result in a spike in your blood pressure, respiration, and body temperature as the body begins to work in overdrive to recover.
Due to this, you will experience symptoms of withdrawal when you stop taking hydrocodone after a period of dependency. These symptoms may include:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Trouble sleeping
- Irregular heart rate
- Anxiety and irritability
- Mood swings
- Trouble feeling pleasure
- Depression and thoughts of suicide
- High blood pressure
- Drug cravings
How Long Does Hydrocodone Withdrawal Last?
Most hydrocodone medications are immediate-release, which means the effects of the drug begin quickly to start relieving pain. Typically, the effects last 4 to 6 hours.
If you were taking an extended-release formulation of hydrocodone, the effects can last up to 12 hours, so your withdrawal symptoms will be delayed compared to if you were detoxing from the immediate-release version of this medication.
Withdrawal symptoms tend to begin one-half life after you stopped using the drug. This means that your symptoms can begin sometime between 4 to 12 hours after you last used hydrocodone. For most individuals, the symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal completely dissipate sometime between 4 to 10 days.
What Happens During the Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline
Hydrocodone withdrawal tends to begin somewhere between 4 and 12 hours after you last consumed the medication. During the beginning stages of withdrawal, your symptoms might be mild. However, your symptoms will gradually become more severe, making it extremely important that you are receiving medical care from a detox program.
The general timeline for hydrocodone withdrawal includes:
4 to 12 Hours
Once you stop taking hydrocodone, your brain will notice that it’s missing a chemical it has begun to rely on to function properly. After the substance has worn off, you will begin experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. This typically begins 4 to 12 hours after your last use.
Initial symptoms tend to be mild, often including symptoms similar to the flu such as body aches, runny nose, and chills. You might also deal with mild drug cravings, which are described as urges to use hydrocodone.
During this stage of withdrawal, a detox center can prescribe medications to prevent your symptoms from getting worse.
Around the 72-hour mark of hydrocodone withdrawal, your symptoms will begin to peak. This is when they are at their most severe. You must be receiving treatment from a medical detox program.
During this time, you may experience severe flu-like symptoms, psychological issues like depression and anxiety, as well as dangerous levels of dehydration. A drug and alcohol detox center can provide you with symptom-specific medications to ease your symptoms and ensure your comfort.
According to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, the persistent vomiting and diarrhea associated with opioid withdrawal can result in dehydration and eventually heart failure without medical treatment. Although rare, hydrocodone withdrawal can become deadly if you attempt to detox at home and become dehydrated. Detoxing under medical supervision is the best way to prevent dehydration.
4 to 10 Days
Sometime between the fourth and tenth day, your withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside. You might continue to experience mild psychological symptoms like anxiety, irritability, insomnia, or depression. Additionally, you can expect to deal with some intense cravings for hydrocodone.
Eventually, these symptoms will subside completely and you can move on to other phases of addiction recovery, such as inpatient or outpatient rehab.
Why Medical Detox is Important
Without proper medical treatment, the dehydration associated with hydrocodone withdrawal can result in life-threatening effects. As a result, attending a medical detox program is extremely important.
When you choose to enter a detox program, your past substance abuse will be evaluated to determine your specific needs. Once a treatment plan is created, your doctor will provide you with an opioid tapering medication, such as Suboxone or Methadone, to ensure that your withdrawal symptoms do not become severe. These medications also prevent your cravings from becoming too intense.
In addition to medications, holistic treatments and therapeutic services will be offered to help keep you comfortable and minimize the risk for relapse. The entire medical detox process ensures that you remain medically stable throughout hydrocodone withdrawal and prevents you from relapsing by limiting the cravings you experience.
Coping With Hydrocodone Withdrawal
Even though medications like Suboxone are highly effective in managing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, getting sober is a huge life change. This process can be extremely stressful, especially if you are not used to being away from your loved ones and friends. It’s important to engage in self-care techniques and healthy coping mechanisms during medical detox.
If you are looking for additional ways to cope with hydrocodone withdrawal, consider the following:
- Yoga and meditation can lower your stress levels and help you focus on the now
- Journaling is a great tool to help you organize your thoughts and calm any negative feelings you are experiencing
- Seeking support from your loved ones by making phone calls during detox can help you feel less lonely
- Talking with a licensed mental health professional in your detox facility can provide you with the advice and support you need to remain focused on recovering
- Engaging in easy activities that you enjoy can take your mind off of the stress associated with detox (i.e. drawing, word puzzles, or reading)
Start Your Recovery at our Exclusive Orange County California Detox Center
Sheer Recovery is an exclusive, top-rated drug and alcohol detox and treatment center located in Orange County, California. If you or a loved one suffer from a hydrocodone addiction, our California opioid detox program can help. To learn more about how we can help you begin your recovery, contact us today.
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