Hydrocodone is a type of opioid painkiller found in certain opioid medications today. Hydrocodone is intended to treat severe pain in patients recovering from surgery, dealing with a terminal illness (like cancer), or experiencing other chronic pain issues. Rehab for Hydrocodone addiction can be successful, especially when using Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
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Most Common Hydrocodone Brands
Some common brand names of prescription painkillers that contain hydrocodone are:
- Norco® (hydrocodone + acetaminophen)
- Lorcet-HD® (hydrocodone + acetaminophen)
- Vicoprofen® (hydrocodone + ibuprofen)
While this page specifically focuses on hydrocodone addiction treatment, many of these same facts will apply to opioid addiction as a whole.
Identifying Hydrocodone Addiction
Like other prescription opioids, hydrocodone is listed as a Schedule II drug for its potential for abuse and addiction. Unfortunately, hydrocodone abuse is not uncommon, and due to its highly addictive nature, people can develop substance use disorder due to misuse.
Some signs of hydrocodone addiction may include:
- Obsession with hydrocodone (acquiring, using)
- Lying about hydrocodone use
- Using more than prescribed
- Doctor shopping
- Spending significant time using, acquiring, or recovering from hydrocodone
- Using hydrocodone outside of prescription guidelines (or without a prescription)
People who abuse hydrocodone are very likely to develop a dependence on this prescription drug first as their body becomes used to receiving hydrocodone regularly. There are both short-term and long-term effects of hydrocodone use that can be observed in an individual.
Short-Term Effects of Hydrocodone
Short-term hydrocodone use can produce the following short-term side effects:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Respiratory depression
In addition, hydrocodone use can also cause certain life-threatening side effects, including low blood pressure and breathing stopping altogether. The likelihood of experiencing these short-term side effects increases significantly when a user abuses hydrocodone.
Long-Term Effects of Hydrocodone
Using any prescription opioid over a long period presents the risk of developing dependence and addiction. Long-term use can also cause chronic constipation, liver damage, and brain damage.
Thankfully, addiction to an opioid pain reliever like hydrocodone isn’t something you or your loved one has to deal with forever. If you or your loved one need help to handle an addiction to hydrocodone, there are many treatment options.
Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment Options
Many treatment providers offer rehabilitation options for hydrocodone addiction. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs exist to provide a variety of care levels to meet the individual needs of each patient.
When selecting a recovery center, the first element is whether you want to opt for medical detox.
While in most cases, withdrawal from hydrocodone isn’t dangerous, the side effects can still be very uncomfortable. Some people return to hydrocodone abuse to stop the withdrawal sensations from continuing. Medical detox, however, provides an alternative and safe option to go “cold turkey.”
Medical Detox for Hydrocodone Addiction
Medical detox provides recovering addicts with a monitored version of detoxification from hydrocodone. As your body eliminates the hydrocodone from your system, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Runny nose
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Cravings for hydrocodone
- Muscle aches
Hydrocodone detox under medical supervision may also include medication-assisted treatment or prescribed medication to help alleviate some of the withdrawal discomforts and help you remain sober.
Methadone is used in treating opioid use disorder because it impacts the opioid receptors in your brain. Methadone blocks the euphoric effects one might get from abusing hydrocodone.
Methadone can be prescribed during the detox process to aid in decreasing withdrawal symptoms and can also be part of a person’s maintenance treatment. Methadone must be administered at a registered distribution clinic, and patients receiving this treatment assistance will need to travel to a methadone clinic after rehab is completed.
Buprenorphine is widely considered the ideal medication for treating opioid use disorders, including hydrocodone addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
There are different versions of buprenorphine medications available to help individuals through withdrawals and recovery. Suboxone®, for example, is a type of extended-release buprenorphine prescription.
Unlike methadone, buprenorphine is available for patients to self-administer. In rehab programs, buprenorphine will normally be administered by staff.
Naltrexone is a medication that blocks any effects of opioids altogether, making relapse much less appealing.
Naltrexone can also be administered via daily pill or as a monthly shot, making it a reasonably low-maintenance option for recovering hydrocodone addicts.
Inpatient Hydrocodone Rehab
After detox, patients will usually begin drug rehabilitation. Hydrocodone detoxification can be provided at inpatient treatment centers, so if this is the type of rehab center you or your loved one has selected, you will likely receive medical detox support at the beginning of your stay.
Inpatient treatment will involve a live-in situation for anywhere from 30-90 days (on average). This form of residential treatment may include additional health services if necessary. It also provides the most structured form of the various rehab options.
During inpatient treatment, patients will receive various types of therapy to help them deal with the underlying issues behind their addiction and develop better habits for the future.
Outpatient Hydrocodone Rehab
People generally believe that drug rehab centers are places where people go to live to deal with their addiction, but there are outpatient treatment programs as well. Outpatient rehab programs provide the same great therapies as inpatient programs but without the same time commitment.
Outpatient rehab can include Partial Hospitalization Programs, which will provide more intensive services during the day but without requiring the patient to stay overnight.
Other outpatient treatments, such as Intensive Outpatient Programs, provide therapy and support for people with minor addictions or those who have completed a more intensive rehab program.
Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment Process
The overall treatment timeline for hydrocodone addiction will vary by individual. Treatment length and intensity will depend on the person’s level of addiction, how long they experienced the addiction, and any additional health factors that could require additional care.
However, an overall timeline for hydrocodone addiction treatment might look like this:
- Detox: Usually lasts between 3-7 days
- Rehab program(s)*
- Inpatient: Between 30-90 days
- Partial Hospitalization (outpatient): 3-4 weeks
- Intensive Outpatient: 90 days
- Ongoing maintenance and aftercare: This can last anywhere from a month to years, depending on the individual’s needs and if they choose to participate in volunteer-type programs around addiction.
*Some individuals may go through more than one rehab program, if needed, to help them gradually work through their addiction recovery at various levels.
Therapies Used for Hydrocodone Rehab
All drug rehab centers provide a variety of therapies to aid in the addiction recovery process. The following is a sample of some therapy types common in addiction treatment.
Note that if there’s one specific type of therapy you are most interested in, it’s best to check ahead before committing to a rehab center to make sure they offer that specific therapy.
Group therapy is prevalent at most, if not all, rehab centers as part of the overall behavioral health treatment patients receive. Group therapy sessions provide recovering addicts with a peer support group and an opportunity to genuinely feel that they aren’t alone in their recovery journey.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” which involves working with a counselor to uncover negative habits and behaviors. Through discussion and occasional outside homework, patients receiving cognitive behavioral therapy will learn how to replace those negative thought patterns with better habits and coping mechanisms.
Contingency management is a therapy based on providing patients with motivational incentives for meeting certain goals. Patients undergoing this type of therapy can earn rewards for positive outcomes, such as negative drug tests.
The types of positive incentives provided may increase in value over time and include special meals, day passes, movie tickets, and more.
Some individuals may still be in denial about their addiction or may be unable to imagine that they can succeed at recovery. Resistance reduction therapy aims to help these individuals acknowledge and accept their current condition and the reality that they can get sober.
12-Step Programs for Hydrocodone Recovery
Twelve-step programs can provide a structured, clear path through the recovery process. Programs such as Narcotics Anonymous can be held at rehab centers, but patients can continue to attend local NA meetings once rehab is completed.
Recovery from Hydrocodone Addiction
Aftercare and maintenance are major components of overall addiction recovery.
After you or your loved one completes rehab treatment for hydrocodone addiction, there are a variety of options available for ways to continue practicing sobriety.
Sober houses offer a residential opportunity for recovering addicts to live in a community of like-minded individuals with similar goals. A sober house will be specifically alcohol and drug-free to support everyone’s goal of avoiding relapse.
Some sober houses provide limited supervision by a counselor, while other sober living facilities do not have any supervision.
Additional aftercare can look different for each person. You may participate in aftercare programs once you’ve completed rehab to help you continue focusing on your overall recovery and well-being. Others may choose to participate in aftercare to give back to the community that provided them with the support they needed.
Aftercare programs include things like:
- 12-step programs (like Narcotics Anonymous)
- Alumni Programs
- Working with a counselor or caseworker
- Continuing individual therapy
- Beginning or continuing family therapy
Find the Right Treatment for You
Finding the right treatment facility to treat an addiction to hydrocodone can feel overwhelming, especially if you aren’t ready to speak with a physician yet.
However, the SAMHSA program locator can show you exactly what programs exist in your area to get a sense of what’s available.