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Hydrocodone Detox

Hydrocodone detox occurs when you stop taking hydrocodone, and it leaves your system. Detoxification is typically the first step in the overall addiction recovery process. In most cases, some form of medical detox is recommended for individuals looking to quit hydrocodone abuse or misuse—but that doesn’t always mean patients need to check in to a facility. Learn more about the hydrocodone detox process, what to expect, and how it can help you or a loved one quit hydrocodone safely and permanently.

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What Is Hydrocodone Detox?

Detox is usually the first step in most substance abuse treatment, especially when dealing with a hydrocodone addiction to a drug like hydrocodone. When your body becomes used to having a steady flow of hydrocodone, you are likely to develop a physical dependence on the drug. That’s why quitting can cause opioid withdrawal symptoms.

The body naturally goes through a detox process as it eliminates hydrocodone from your system. However, medical detox is an official type of treatment where patients can receive medical care and support while their body adjusts to the lack of hydrocodone.

Treatment for hydrocodone detox will be very similar to detoxing from other prescription opioids (i.e., codeine, oxycodone, fentanyl, etc.) and can include:

However, most people don’t realize that hydrocodone detox varies based on an individual’s needs. Many people can undergo a medical hydrocodone detox at home after receiving specific guidance from their doctor.

Hydrocodone Quick Facts
  • Hydrocodone is often combined with acetaminophen and is used to treat severe pain (i.e., recovering from surgery, healing from an accident, etc.)
  • Hydrocodone is categorized as a Schedule II drug due to its strong potential for leading to physical dependence and addiction.
  • Common brand names for hydrocodone medications include Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco
  • Hydrocodone is the most commonly prescribed opioid in the U.S.
  • Roughly 11.5 million Americans misused prescription opioids in 2016 alone

What to Expect During Detox for Hydrocodone

When undergoing medical detox for hydrocodone, healthcare professionals may administer medication to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and side effects.

The length of detox can vary based on factors such as:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Body weight
  • Overall physical health
  • Mental health (i.e., any underlying mental disorders)
  • Metabolism
  • Severity of the addiction
  • Length of time hydrocodone was taken
  • Amount of hydrocodone taken

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms may appear within the first 30 hours after the last dose of hydrocodone. As a result, the initial detoxification stage is usually the most severe.

Drug cravings can be intense during the first stage of detox, which sometimes leads people to return to drug use.

While hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms aren’t typically life-threatening, a person who gives in to cravings during detox is at a significantly higher risk for a deadly overdose than a regular opiate user.

Common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Mood swings
  • Intense cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Dilated pupils
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Body aches
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Suicidal thoughts

The duration and intensity of acute withdrawal symptoms can vary but typically persist for up to two weeks.

However, psychological symptoms linked to hydrocodone withdrawal can last much longer, sometimes persisting for weeks or even months after physical symptoms have subsided.

Working with a medical team or healthcare provider as you detox can greatly alleviate your systems during the withdrawal process—even for long-term symptoms.

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Medication-Assisted Treatment For Detoxing From Hydrocodone

During detoxification, doctors may recommend prescription medications to alleviate the symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal and reduce drug cravings. The FDA approved these medications to help with opiate withdrawal.

Some common medication-assisted treatments include:

  • Clonidine, to treat high blood pressure
  • Benzodiazepines to address symptoms of anxiety and insomnia
  • Methadone for cravings
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone) for cravings and other opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol) for cravings and other withdrawal symptoms
  • Naloxone to counteract the effects of opioids
  • Over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil (ibuprofen)

Are There Risks to Detoxing From Hydrocodone?

The main risks of detox are a result of attempting to quit completely on your own without any medical support or advice.

During detoxification, one key risk is the possibility of severe dehydration and hypernatremia (i.e., elevated blood sodium levels). These conditions may result in heart failure, which can be life-threatening.

Additionally, as mentioned above, cravings usually intensify during the detox process.

However, since your body has begun to eliminate hydrocodone from your system, returning to hydrocodone abuse can easily result in a deadly overdose even if you use your “regular amount.”

Post-Detox Hydrocodone Treatment

Following the successful completion of hydrocodone detoxification, the subsequent step in the addiction treatment process is to participate in a treatment program.

Common treatment programs for hydrocodone addiction include:

Therapy is a common approach for people struggling with hydrocodone addiction. Therapy sessions can help you address the impact of substance use disorder and learn to avoid future relapse.

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Signs You May Need Detox For Hydrocodone Dependence

Anyone facing a hydrocodone addiction or other opioid dependence may need to undergo detox and seek addiction treatment. Hydrocodone addiction typically comes with many signs.

Physical Signs of Hydrocodone Dependence & Withdrawal

Physical symptoms of opioid addiction include:

  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Diarrhea
  • Paranoia
  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Spasms
  • Slowed movement
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle or bone weakness and pain
  • Overdose

In addition to these physical symptoms, you may also notice changes in the behavior of someone facing a hydrocodone addiction.

Behavioral Signs of Hydrocodone Dependence & Withdrawal

Some behavioral signs of hydrocodone addiction include:

  • Hiding pill bottles or drug paraphernalia
  • Going “doctor shopping” (going to multiple doctors to get hydrocodone prescriptions written)
  • Lying about their hydrocodone use
  • Struggling at work or school
  • Ignoring responsibilities
  • Noticeable changes in personal hygiene
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Getting into financial trouble as a result of buying hydrocodone
  • Taking hydrocodone in potentially dangerous situations
  • Changes in social groups
  • Relationship struggles
  • Legal problems

Get Help for Hydrocodone Addiction

While detox is the crucial first step in the addiction recovery process, it is still only part of the journey. Fortunately, you have many options available for opioid addiction treatment.

Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or visit their online program locator to find hydrocodone addiction treatment options in your area.

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Hydrocodone Detox FAQs

What is hydrocodone detox?

Hydrocodone detox happens when you stop taking hydrocodone, and the substance leaves your system.

The withdrawal symptoms associated with hydrocodone detox can be severe. That is why the detox process should occur under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals.

How long does it take to detox from hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone will be completely out of your system within about 8 hours. It has a half-life of about 3.8 hours, meaning half a normal dose will be gone from your system in this time frame.

Medical detox programs can help ensure the hydrocodone detox process goes smoothly, keeping you safe while the drug leaves your body.

Who needs hydrocodone detox?

Anyone with a hydrocodone addiction or dependence may need to enroll in a medical detox program. Hydrocodone detox is usually the first step in the addiction recovery process to help your body re-balance and get back to a normal state.

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. Kosten, T. R., & George, T. P. (2002, July). The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment. Science & Practice Perspectives.
  2. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, November 23). Partner With Your Healthcare Team to Stop Opioids Safely. Mayo Clinic.
  3. Opioid Use Disorder. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2022, November 11).
  4. Shah, M., & Huecker, M. R. (2023, July 21). Opioid Withdrawal – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. StatPearls.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, November 22). Opioids. National Institutes of Health.
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2022a, April 30). Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia. MedlinePlus.

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