Suggested links

Hydrocodone Statistics

Hydrocodone, a widely used opioid in the US, has played a significant role in the opioid crisis, contributing to numerous accidental overdose deaths. Despite its benefits for pain relief, the risk of addiction led to its rescheduling to a more restricted status in 2014. Recognizing the demographics most affected by hydrocodone abuse is crucial for targeting mental health and substance abuse support to communities in need.

Battling addiction and ready for treatment? Find Treatment Now

Overview of Prevalence of Hydrocodone Use, Abuse, and Addiction

Hydrocodone is one of the most common prescription opioids in the US. The drug is used as a pain reliever (analgesic) and cough suppressant, often given as a combination product with acetaminophen. As a semi-synthetic opioid, it functions similarly to oxycodone and codeine.

Since being moved from a Schedule III to a Schedule II drug, hydrocodone prescriptions seem to be decreasing. However, the drug is still widely used both legally and illegally.

According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Report provided by the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), of the 8.5 million people (aged 12+) who misused prescription pain relievers in the past year, 45.1% (or 3.7 million people) misused hydrocodone products.

Hydrocodone Use Data

In 2014, hydrocodone was rescheduled from a Schedule III to a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse despite its medical use. The change certainly affected how often medical professionals are prescribing hydrocodone.

  • According to data from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 136.7 million prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing products were dispensed in 2013, 93.7 million in 2016, and 83.6 million in 2017.
  • Acetaminophen-hydrocodone remained the most frequently prescribed opioid combination, though its proportion of all opioid prescriptions at discharge decreased from 53.1% in 2012–2013 to 41.5% by 2016–2017.
  • Prescriptions for tramadol and acetaminophen-codeine have increased, corresponding with the decrease in acetaminophen-hydrocodone prescriptions.
  • In January 2018, the FDA mandated safety labeling changes, restricting prescription cough medications containing hydrocodone to individuals aged 18 and older due to safety concerns.

Many people depend on hydrocodone for moderate to severe pain relief and cough suppression, taking the drug only as prescribed by their healthcare provider. Not all who receive the prescription will misuse the drug or develop hydrocodone addiction.

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

Find Treatment Now

Paid advertising from Centric Behavioral Health

Hydrocodone Abuse and Addiction

Hydrocodone abuse and addiction are a major component of the worldwide opioid crisis. The drug comes in several formulations, with many of them being combination products with acetaminophen or other prescription drugs.

With so many options available, it’s far too easy for different versions of hydrocodone to find their way on the street. That also increases the risk of mixtures with other powerful opiates like fentanyl finding their way into the illegal drug trade.

Hydrocodone Misuse VS Other Opioids (2022 data)

According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), misuse of other opioids compared to the 45.1% (or 3.7 million people) who misused hydrocodone products include:

  • 30.7% of people aged 12 or older misused oxycodone in the past year
  • 22.2% of people aged 12 or older misused codeine  in the past year
  • 16.6% of people aged 12 or older misused tramadol in the past year
  • 18.2% of people aged 12 or older misused buprenorphine in the past year
  • 6% of people aged 12 or older misused prescription fentanyl in the past year
  • 4.5% of people aged 12 or older misused morphine in the past year
  • 2.5% of people aged 12 or older misused methadone in the past year
  • 1.4% of people aged 12 or older misused oxymorphone in the past year
  • 1.2% of people aged 12 or older misused hydromorphone in the past year

Hydrocodone Addiction Statistics by Demographic

The opioid crisis in the United States has led to considerable research into how these drugs affect different ages, genders, and races. However, data on opioids can be rather generalized, and finding statistics for specific opioid drugs can be difficult. The effects of opioids like hydrocodone are quite similar to other opioids. Each type of opioid has its own unique traits but ultimately functions similarly.

Hydrocodone Addiction Statistics by Gender

While there is no data regarding the use of only hydrocodone available, there is data regarding overall opioid addiction by gender.

More than 3/4 of people with an opioid use disorder are young white men. However, a rapidly growing number of women are developing an addiction to opioid drugs.

Reports from the National Women’s Health Network show that:

  • Women are more likely to experience chronic pain and use prescription opioid pain medications for longer periods and in higher doses.
  • Women account for 65% of the total opioid prescriptions.
  • 40% more women than men become persistent opioid users after surgery
Find Addiction Treatment
  • Specialized Treatment
  • Comprehensive Support
  • Personalized Care

Find Treatment Now

Paid advertising from Centric Behavioral Health

Hydrocodone Addiction Statistics by Age

While there is no hydrocodone-specific addiction data available, there is data regarding overall opioid use by age.

According to SAMHSA:

  • 79% of people with opioid use disorders were 26 and older
  • 15% of people with opioid use disorders were 18 to 25 years old
  • 5% of people with opioid use disorders were 12 to 17 years old

Hydrocodone Addiction Statistics by Race

Although there is little research on the use of hydrocodone by race, there is research regarding opioid use and opioid death rates.

Based on data from SAMHSA, the following trends have been observed regarding race and opioid use:

  • In 2018 and 2019, opioid use among Asian people grew by 38.5% and grew by 8.3% among Hispanic people.
  • Native Americans and Alaskan Native people are more likely to die of a fatal overdose of prescription opioids than white people.
  • Hispanic and black women are more likely to use heroin, an illegal drug derived from opiates like morphine.

Hydrocodone & Opioid Prescriptions in Hospital Emergency Department (ED)

Recent studies and reports have shed light on the prescribing trends, usage, and implications of hydrocodone use in the United States. Below are key statistics and contexts from these studies:

  • Prescription Trends: The National Health Statistics Report (January 8, 2020) observed that the percentage of emergency department (ED) visits by adults with opioids prescribed at discharge increased from 19.0% in 2006–2007 to 21.5% in 2010–2011, before decreasing to 14.6% in 2016–2017.
  • Age-Related Differences: A notable decrease in opioid prescriptions at emergency department discharge was observed among younger adults aged 18–44, from 25.5% in 2010–2011 to 15.3% in 2016–2017.
  • Metropolitan vs. Rural Prescribing Trends: Patients who live in medium or small metropolitan counties saw a significant decrease in opioid prescriptions at emergency department discharge, from 24.3% in 2010–2011 to 14.5% in 2016–2017.

Diagnosis-Related Prescribing: Top diagnoses leading to an opioid prescription at emergency department discharge included:

  • Dental pain
  • Urolithiasis
  • Fractures
  • Back pain
  • Extremity pain
  • All with a notable decrease in opioid prescribing for these conditions from 2010–2011 to 2016–2017, except for urolithiasis.

Statistics About Hydrocodone Addiction Recovery

Although there are no statistics or studies concerning hydrocodone addiction recovery, there is data available for general opioid addiction recovery.

According to a study from the Recovery Research Institute, nearly 1.2% (estimated 259,260) and 2.2% (estimated 489,465) of primary opioid users achieved recovery for up to a year or 1–5 years, respectively.

In addition, patients who complete an opioid addiction treatment program of at least 30 days have been shown to have better success in achieving sobriety and remaining abstinent long-term.

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

Find Treatment Now

Paid advertising from Centric Behavioral Health

Find Help for Addiction to Hydrocodone

Dealing with hydrocodone addiction can be devastating, both for the addict and their loved ones. Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to treating substance abuse issues with opioids.

Waiting until the problem is “bad enough” only allows more chances for a tragedy, such as serious or permanent health problems or even a drug overdose. You can get started by talking to your healthcare provider about your current drug abuse issues.

Another option for seeking treatment is SAMHSA’s online treatment locator. You can also call the helpline at 1-800-662-4357 (HELP), where a representative can help you find addiction treatment options in your area that meet your needs.

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.

FAQs About Hydrocodone Statistics

How common is hydrocodone abuse?

Hydrocodone abuse is sadly quite common. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Report, 45.1% (or 3.7 million people) misused hydrocodone combination products more than any other opioid analgesics (pain reliever).

While hydrocodone is still commonly prescribed, numbers seem to be declining somewhat in the past decade. Data from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shows that 136.7 million prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing products were dispensed in 2013, 93.7 million in 2016, and 83.6 million in 2017.

That said, many with hydrocodone prescriptions do not abuse the drug. However, there is some correlation between the amount of prescriptions dispensed and the number of people reporting abuse of hydrocodone.

What opioid is the most prescribed?

The most commonly prescribed opioids are hydrocodone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. All three of these are semi-synthetic opioids used to treat moderate to severe pain and, in the case of hydrocodone, can be used as a cough suppressant.

They all work by binding with mu-opioid receptors in the brain and act as CNS suppressants (central nervous system), similar to other drugs like benzodiazepines.

What are the effects of hydrocodone abuse?

Common effects of hydrocodone abuse include:

  • Sedation
  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Respiratory depression
  • Physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms
  • Liver damage due to “combination hydrocodone products” (e.g., Vicodin®, which contains acetaminophen)
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 AddictionHelp.com 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. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, August 8). Data Overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/data/index.html
  2. Hydrocodone (Trade Names: Vicodin®, Lortab®, Lorcet-HD®, Hycodan®, Vicoprofen®). Drug Enforcement Administration. (2019, October). https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/hydrocodone.pdf
  3. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. (2021, April 13). Age Group Differences in Progress Toward Reducing Substance Use Disorders, 2015-2018. US Department of Health and Human Services. https://aspe.hhs.gov/reports/age-group-differences-progress-toward-reducing-substance-use-disorders-2015-2018-issue-brief
  4. Opioids and Women: From Prescription to Addiction. National Women’s Health Network. (2021, March 5). https://nwhn.org/prescription-addiction-opioid-epidemic/
  5. Results from the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2023, November). https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt42731/2022-nsduh-nnr.pdf
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2023, May 15). Hydrocodone. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a614045.html

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