Suggested links

Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone is among the most commonly prescribed opioid medications in the United States. It is frequently used by doctors to manage moderate to severe pain but is also commonly abused. However, hydrocodone abuse is not limited to individuals seeking to achieve a high. Many individuals who use hydrocodone for legitimate pain relief have developed an addiction to their prescribed medication.

Battling addiction and ready for treatment? Find Treatment Now

What Is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid derived from the poppy plant and used to treat moderate to relatively severe pain. It works by targeting the brain’s opioid receptors and blocking pain sensations.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classified hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance. Hydrocodone presents a risk for patients developing hydrocodone dependence and, eventually, hydrocodone addiction.

Hydrocodone is not normally produced illegally; however, illicit fentanyl is often used in counterfeit hydrocodone pills.

Brand Names For Prescription Hydrocodone And Other Details

Prescription hydrocodone appears as a small, usually white pill.

The most common brand names for hydrocodone are:

  • Vicodin®
  • Lortab®
  • Norco®
  • Lorcet-HD®
  • Hycodan®
  • Vicoprofen®

Hydrocodone is also part of certain combination products that contain other pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These combination painkillers are designed for less severe pain.

How Is Hydrocodone Abused?

People who intentionally abuse hydrocodone seek it for the euphoric high that opioids can create.

The most common way drug users consume hydrocodone is:

  • Swallowing pills
  • Snorting the dust of crushed pills
  • Smoking crushed/cooked pilled
  • Injecting liquified hydrocodone intravenously into a vein (similar to heroin use)

Because many hydrocodone products are designed to be delayed release, consuming the drug this quickly can lead to an overdose.

Find Addiction Treatment
  • Specialized Treatment
  • Comprehensive Support
  • Personalized Care

Find Treatment Now

Paid advertising from Centric Behavioral Health

Hydrocodone Overdose

Hydrocodone is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that can affect heart rate and breathing by slowing down these functions. During an overdose, a victim’s heart and/or breathing rate can slow to life-threatening levels.

Someone who is experiencing a hydrocodone overdose will not immediately show extreme symptoms. Many of these signs will appear over a few hours.

Signs of hydrocodone overdose include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Irritability
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Inability to stay awake
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blue tinge to the skin, especially around mouth and hands
  • Slowed breathing and heart rate
  • Breathing stops entirely

Administering naloxone (Narcan®, for instance) can pause any opioid overdose, including a hydrocodone overdose.

Do you Suspect a Hydrocodone Overdose?

If you suspect someone is overdosing on hydrocodone, follow these steps:

  1. Call 911 and report that an opioid overdose has occurred.
  2. Administer naloxone (such as Narcan®).
  3. Turn the victim on their left side to facilitate breathing and prevent asphyxiation if vomiting occurs.
  4. Stay with the victim until help arrives. In most states, no criminal action can be taken against the overdose victim or the person who reports it.

Hydrocodone Abuse Side Effects

There are various side effects of hydrocodone use, especially when not taken as directed by a healthcare provider.

Short-term effects of hydrocodone abuse include:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing (respiratory depression)
  • Slow heart rate
  • Feeling as though you are about to pass out
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure

When abused, hydrocodone can cause sensations of euphoria in the user.

However, repeated abuse of hydrocodone also puts the user at risk of developing a physical dependence on the drug, leading to potential substance use disorder and opioid addiction.

In addition, severe health issues can arise from long-term hydrocodone abuse—especially if the individual abuses combination products that contain other drugs. For instance, medications like Norco® contain acetaminophen, which can lead to liver damage when abused.

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment Options

There are drug rehab treatment centers and programs nationwide to help people quit and remain sober. A doctor or healthcare professional can also help determine which program or treatment suits your needs.

Hydrocodone Medical Detox

Medical detox is usually the first step in treating hydrocodone abuse or addiction. During medical detox, your body will eliminate any remaining hydrocodone in your system.

While most hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, symptoms can be very uncomfortable. Seeking medical support is strongly recommended (rather than quitting cold turkey on your own).

Hydrocodone withdrawal can cause the following symptoms:

  • Strong cravings for hydrocodone
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Hydrocodone detox can occur at a treatment facility (inpatient). In many cases, people can complete a medical detox at home with guidelines from medical professionals (such as a tapering schedule).

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

A doctor or healthcare professional sometimes recommends medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help lessen hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms and decrease cravings.

MAT typically occurs in conjunction with another form of treatment, such as psychotherapy.

The most common medications used to overcome hydrocodone addiction are:

Hydrocodone Addiction Rehab

Entering a hydrocodone rehab program may be recommended for someone recovering from a hydrocodone addiction.

While most people assume that rehab means checking in to a facility and staying for at least a month, there are varying intensity levels based on a person’s needs.

Many rehab programs are offered on an outpatient basis, while inpatient care may be better suited for someone who needs the highest level of care.

During rehab, patients will receive treatment and support, beginning with detoxification and mental health counseling to help them maintain sobriety during and after their stay.

The most common types of rehab programs for hydrocodone addiction treatment are:

  • Inpatient Rehab: Also known as residential rehab, an inpatient rehab program is ideal for someone dealing with severe hydrocodone addiction, who may have other substance abuse issues, and/or those with previous rehab experience. Inpatient programs for hydrocodone addiction typically last between 30 – 90 days.
  • Partial-Hospitalization Program (PHP): PHPs provide a similar level of care as an inpatient program but do NOT require residency. Patients can visit the facility during the daytime to complete their therapy and other treatments but may return home each night.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): An IOP consists of weekly visits to check the patient’s health and provide counseling via a support group or other mental health program. IOP is considered a step down in intensity compared to PHP.

An IOP may also be recommended after an inpatient stay to help the hydrocodone addict stay sober. An IOP often includes medication-assisted treatment to help the addict avoid returning to illicit opioid use.

Find Addiction Treatment
  • Specialized Treatment
  • Comprehensive Support
  • Personalized Care

Find Treatment Now

Paid advertising from Centric Behavioral Health

Hydrocodone Addiction Statistics

According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), overall prescription opioid abuse is now more prevalent than heroin, meth, and cocaine combined.

The DEA reports that hydrocodone appears in drug evidence the second-most frequently of any other opioid.

Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opioid in the United States, while the similar drug oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin) is the most abused opioid in the US per capita. In addition, the US is responsible for roughly 99% of all hydrocodone consumption.

In many cases, hydrocodone users switch to cheaper opiate alternatives such as heroin or fentanyl.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that almost 80% of heroin users claim to have abused prescription opioids before switching to heroin.

Hope and Support for Loved Ones Addicted On Hydrocodone

Addiction harms more than just the addict themselves. Friends and loved ones of addicts also suffer from worry, stress, and heartbreak while watching someone they care about struggle with addiction.

If you know someone who is struggling with addiction to hydrocodone, know there is hope for them. Sometimes, the best option for the loved ones of addicts is to provide helpful information such as this fact page.

Local support groups, such as Al-Anon, are available for people who have faced the negative consequences of a loved one’s addiction. The internet also has a variety of forums and support groups to help you process what you’ve experienced.

Take Action to Overcome Hydrocodone Addiction

Whether you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, many assessment and treatment options exist to help manage a hydrocodone problem.

You can start by talking to your doctor about your current usage and your desire to cut back or quit.

You can also contact SAMHSA through their FREE helpline at 1-800-662-4357 to find treatment programs near you. They also have an online treatment locator that provides the same information.

Ready for Treatment?

Centric Behavioral Health, our paid treatment center sponsor, is available 24/7:
Learn More About Centric or For Immediate Treatment Help, Call (888) 694-1249.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hydrocodone Addiction

How is hydrocodone addiction treated?

Hydrocodone addiction can be treated through a medical detox followed by a treatment program that fits the level of addiction.

All programs focus on both physically recovering from hydrocodone addiction as well as addressing the addict’s mental health to help them remain sober in the future.

What is the difference between hydrocodone addiction and dependency?

A hydrocodone dependency happens when a person’s body begins to develop a tolerance for hydrocodone and needs more for the drug to be effective.

Alternatively, hydrocodone addiction happens when a person’s need for hydrocodone interferes with their daily life (such as work, family obligations, etc.). Dependence often leads to addiction.

What are the symptoms of hydrocodone abuse and addiction?

Hydrocodone addiction can cause nausea, vomiting, slow breathing, dizziness, low blood pressure, and excessive drowsiness.

Someone addicted to hydrocodone may become obsessed with the use of hydrocodone to the point that it begins to cause problems in their daily lives (i.e., work, relationships, finances, etc.).

A hydrocodone addict may use more than prescribed or could be taking hydrocodone without a prescription at all.

Is hydrocodone the same as oxycodone?

No, hydrocodone is a different medication than oxycodone. However, these drugs are very similar.

Both hydrocodone and oxycodone are synthetic opioids. These analgesics (painkillers) are typically prescribed for patients with moderate to severe pain, such as post-surgery or after an automobile accident.

Oxycodone is more potent than hydrocodone and is considered more likely to lead to addiction, though both drugs carry an addiction risk.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. 2021 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) releases. (2023, January 4).
  2. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (2018, February 7). Prescription acetaminophen products to be limited to 325 mg per dosage. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  3. Hydrocodone (trade names: Vicodin , Lortab , Lorcet-HD , hycodan … Drug Enforcement Administration. (2019, October).
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2023, May 25). Prescription opioids Drugfacts.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023a, March 9). How can prescription drug addiction be treated?. National Institutes of Health.
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023b, June 12). What classes of prescription drugs are commonly misused?. National Institutes of Health.
  7. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2023, April 13). Hydrocodone: Medlineplus Drug Information. MedlinePlus.
  8. WebMD. (2022, August 21). Opioid withdrawal: Symptoms, causes, and treatments. WebMD.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Our free email newsletter offers guidance from top addiction specialists, inspiring sobriety stories, and practical recovery tips to help you or a loved one keep coming back and staying sober.

By signing up, you’ll be able to:

  • Stay Focused on Recovery
  • Find Ways To Give Back
  • Connect with Others Like You
Sign Up For Our Newsletter
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Find Treatment Now