Suggested links

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Hydrocodone is a pain reliever that is often prescribed for moderate to severe pain, especially after surgery. However, it is commonly misused and abused, which can be very dangerous. Shockingly, in 2017, over 6 million Americans aged 12 and above were reported to have misused hydrocodone. This type of behavior can greatly increase the risk of developing opioid addiction or dependence. If someone becomes dependent or addicted, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug.

Battling addiction and ready for treatment? Find Treatment Now

What Is Hydrocodone Withdrawal?

Hydrocodone withdrawal is the brain’s and body’s reaction to the lack of the drug after a person has formed a dependence on it.

Hydrocodone is a powerful, addictive prescription opioid for treating moderate to severe pain. Most people know it by its brand names Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, and Lorcet. It’s the most commonly abused prescription opioid currently on the market.

While prescriptions of the drugs have decreased significantly over the past several years, the number of people abusing hydrocodone has not. And abuse of it can lead to an opioid use disorder, such as opioid addiction or physical dependence.

A person may experience withdrawal symptoms soon after their last dose if they have formed an opiate addiction or dependence on the drug.

This condition is also called hydrocodone withdrawal syndrome.

What Causes Withdrawal?

Opioids, such as hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone (OxyContin), attach themselves to opioid receptors in the brain.

This attachment causes an increase in the endorphins released into the body. Endorphins are what block pain and cause feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Over time, your brain and body become dependent on those extra endorphins to function normally.

As opioid dependence grows, you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms whenever the hydrocodone wears off.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can vary based on a variety of factors. These include the severity of the substance abuse, the length of time you have been taking the drug, and the amount you have been taking.

Some of the more common opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Goosebumps
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Intense cravings
  • Changes in appetite
  • Flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, and runny nose
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Suicidal thoughts
Try Therapy Online

Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with a licensed therapist.

We may earn commissions when you follow links to BetterHelp.

Take Assessment

The Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline

Symptoms can begin as soon as six to eight hours after the last dose was taken. Symptoms will typically peak between the 30- and 72-hour mark. The entire withdrawal process can last up to two weeks.

Some people can experience lingering side effects for months after withdrawing from hydrocodone. These lingering effects are known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) or protracted withdrawal.

Fortunately, PAWS withdrawal symptoms are typically less severe than peak withdrawal symptoms.

How to Safely Withdraw From Hydrocodone

For people who take opioids such as hydrocodone for less than two weeks, experiencing withdrawal symptoms is rare. However, people with an addiction or dependence need to be careful when stopping their use of hydrocodone.

If you want to stop taking hydrocodone, talk to your primary care physician or a treatment professional. Based on your situation, they might recommend tapering or a medical detox program to ensure the weaning process happens safely.

The Tapering Method

Withdrawal from hydrocodone is potentially life-threatening if you stop taking it “cold turkey.”

To safely get off hydrocodone, your primary healthcare provider might suggest a tapering regime. Tapering allows you to reduce the use over a designated period until you are off the substance entirely.

While tapering, you will likely have regular in-person or virtual check-ins with your doctor to ensure everything is going smoothly and there are no severe medical issues. You may also regularly meet with a mental health professional to address the psychological effects of weaning off hydrocodone.

In some cases, your physician or therapist might prescribe medications to help with the physical or psychological effects of tapering.

Medical Detox

The safest way to withdraw is through a medical detox program. Detoxing is when all harmful substances leave the body to start healing.

Just like tapering, detoxing should also occur under proper medical supervision. Unlike tapering, detoxification is typically done at a hospital, a specialized detox center, or a treatment center that provides detox programs.

During detox, you will likely be prescribed medications to help you deal with drug cravings and alleviate other withdrawal symptoms and side effects.

Medications that are FDA-approved for hydrocodone detox include:

Over-the-counter medications might also be used for the physical symptoms, including:

  • Non-opioid painkillers (Tylenol, Advil, Aleve)
  • Antihistamines (Benadryl)
  • Anti-nausea medications (Pepto-Bismol)
  • Anti-diarrhea medications (Imodium, Loperamide)
  • Nutritional supplements (chamomile, valerian root)

Follow-Up Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction

Having withdrawal symptoms is usually a sign of opioid dependence or addiction. Treating hydrocodone is possible, and detoxing from the medication is only the start.

After detox, you may enter either an inpatient rehab program or an outpatient program to address your addiction.

Inpatient Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Inpatient treatment offers an intensive approach, usually necessary for opioid use disorder. You can access support groups, counseling, behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention care in inpatient rehab.

Outpatient Treatment for Opioid Addiction

If your opiate addiction is less severe, outpatient treatment may suffice. This type of treatment offers many of the same approaches as inpatient care without the overnight stay requirement.

Aftercare for Opioid Addiction Recovery

Finally, aftercare may help you stay on the path of addiction recovery long after your initial treatment program has ended. There are various types of continuing care for addiction, but some include individual counseling sessions, group therapy sessions, and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Try Therapy Online

Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with a licensed therapist.

We may earn commissions when you follow links to BetterHelp.

Take Assessment

Get Help for Someone Facing Hydrocodone Withdrawal

If you or a loved one are facing withdrawal, know you can safely detox in a drug addiction treatment program.

For help with a substance use disorder, call the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or visit their online program locator to find addiction treatment options and support in your area.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal FAQs

What is hydrocodone withdrawal?

Hydrocodone withdrawal is the body’s and brain’s reaction to hydrocodone leaving the body after you have developed an opiate dependence.

Withdrawal symptoms occur due to the lack of hydrocodone in your system.

How long does it take for hydrocodone to get out of your system?

The amount of time any drug remains in your system depends on its half-life. The half-life of hydrocodone is 3.8 hours, which means half of a standard dose will leave your system after this amount of time.

Though hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms may linger for days or weeks, the drug will be out of your system in a matter of hours.

This time frame can be affected by the amount of hydrocodone a person takes. And people who abuse hydrocodone often take it in higher doses than are typically prescribed.

What are the symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal?

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can vary based on multiple factors, including the severity of the dependency, the length of time hydrocodone has been taken, and the dosage.

Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include cravings, mood swings, insomnia, nausea, flu-like symptoms, body aches, and high blood pressure, among others.

Is hydrocodone withdrawal treatable?

Yes, hydrocodone withdrawal is treatable.

Before stopping the use of hydrocodone, it’s essential to consult with a physician or addiction treatment professional. They will likely recommend either medical detox or a tapering program.

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. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, May 20). Partner with your doctor to stop using opioid medications. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from

  2. Hydrocodone (trade names: Vicodin , Lortab , Lorcet-HD , hycodan … (2019, October). Retrieved February 23, 2023, from

  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioids.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (2018, September). “Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States:results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and health.” Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from

  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Oxycodone and Hydrocodone: Detection in Urine, Oral Fluid, and Blood.” Retrieved February 23, 2023 from

  6. Opioid withdrawal symptoms, a consequence of … – Wiley Online Library. (2020, January 27). Retrieved February 23, 2023, from

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