Suggested links

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Quitting hydrocodone after your body has become used to it can cause uncomfortable or even serious withdrawal symptoms. Even people using hydrocodone as recommended by their doctor may develop a physical dependence on hydrocodone and thus need help when quitting. Learn more about why hydrocodone withdrawal occurs, what to expect during the process, and how to manage it to stay safe.

Battling addiction and ready for treatment? Find Treatment Now

What Is Hydrocodone Withdrawal?

Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid agonist used to treat moderate to severe pain, but regular use (or abuse) can lead to developing opioid dependence and even opioid use disorder.

Once you’ve developed a physical dependence, quitting hydrocodone can cause withdrawal symptoms because your body has to adjust to a sudden change in its chemistry.

Hydrocodone Quick Facts
  • Hydrocodone is the most commonly abused prescription opioid currently on the market. Other common prescription opioids include codeine, oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl.
  • Most people know hydrocodone by brand names like Vicodin, Lortab, or Norco.
  • While hydrocodone prescriptions have decreased significantly over the past several years, the number of people abusing hydrocodone has not.
  • A reported 75% of drug overdoses in 2021 involved an opioid, from codeine and hydrocodone to oxycodone and fentanyl.
  • A person may experience symptoms of withdrawal from hydrocodone just hours after their last dose.

What Causes Hydrocodone Withdrawal?

Hydrocodone withdrawal is caused when someone stops taking hydrocodone after developing a physical dependence on it.

Since the body has become used to a regular dose of hydrocodone in its system, the sudden change causes a chemical imbalance and often results in uncomfortable side effects.

Opioids like hydrocodone attach themselves to opioid receptors in the brain, causing 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 depend on those extra endorphins to function normally. As opioid dependence grows, people may even experience withdrawal symptoms whenever the hydrocodone wears off.

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

Find Treatment Now

Paid advertising from Centric Behavioral Health

Common Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can vary based on a variety of factors, including the amount of hydrocodone taken (and for how long), whether substance abuse was also a factor, and the person’s age and overall physical health.

Some common opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

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

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline

The hydrocodone withdrawal process will typically last for about two weeks.

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as 6 to 8 hours after the last dose was taken. Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal will typically peak between the 30- and 72-hour mark.

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.

However, PAWS withdrawal symptoms are typically much less severe than peak withdrawal symptoms.

Fortunately, many withdrawal symptoms are easily managed with the support of healthcare professionals through inpatient and outpatient programs, including medical detox and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

How to Safely Withdraw From Hydrocodone

If you want to stop taking hydrocodone, you should first 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.

It’s worth noting that people who take hydrocodone for less than two weeks typically won’t experience any withdrawal symptoms when quitting.

However, you should still discuss quitting with your doctor before suddenly quitting hydrocodone—especially if you are concerned that you might have or are developing a hydrocodone addiction.

Tapering Method

To safely quit hydrocodone, your primary healthcare provider might suggest a tapering regime.

Tapering allows you to reduce hydrocodone use over a designated period of time 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.

During tapering, 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 and/or psychological effects of tapering.

Medical Detox

The safest way to withdraw from hydrocodone is through a medical detox program.

Detoxing is another name for the process where the body eliminates hydrocodone from its system and balances its natural chemicals back out.

Just like tapering, detoxing should also occur under proper medical supervision. Detoxification can occur through an inpatient program like a hospital or specialized detox center or through an outpatient program where patients only need to check in virtually or by phone.

During the detox process, your doctor may prescribe medication to help you deal with drug cravings and alleviate other withdrawal 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 (acetaminophen, ibuprofen)
  • Antihistamines (Benadryl)
  • Anti-nausea medications (Pepto-Bismol)
  • Anti-diarrhea medications (Imodium, Loperamide)
  • Nutritional supplements (chamomile, valerian root)
Find Addiction Treatment
  • Specialized Treatment
  • Comprehensive Support
  • Personalized Care

Find Treatment Now

Paid advertising from Centric Behavioral Health

Follow-Up Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction

Having withdrawal symptoms is usually a sign of opioid dependence or addiction. It is possible to break an addiction to hydrocodone, 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, which is 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. Outpatient substance abuse treatment offers many of the same approaches as inpatient care without the overnight stay requirement.

Outpatient rehab programs are available in a variety of intensity levels.

Partial hospitalization programs are held for several hours per day and a few days per week, while intensive outpatient treatment takes place a couple of hours per day for a couple of days per week.

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 common options include individual counseling sessions, group therapy sessions, and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Get Help for Someone Facing Hydrocodone Withdrawal

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

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

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.

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.

Can hydrocodone withdrawal kill you?

Overall, hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are not usually life-threatening. However, individuals with other substance abuse issues, underlying health problems, or long-term hydrocodone abuse are more at risk for complications during hydrocodone withdrawal.

Additionally, symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be uncomfortable and may drive some individuals to return to their hydrocodone abuse. However, as their body has already begun detoxing hydrocodone from their system, returning to their former drug use can lead to a deadly overdose.

Therefore, the hydrocodone withdrawal process itself isn’t usually dangerous, but the resulting cravings and potential relapse are.

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 about 4 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 symptoms are 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. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2019, November). Hydrocodone. US Department of Justice.
  2. Kosten, T. R., & George, T. P. (2002, July). The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment. Science & Practice Perspectives.
  3. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, November 23). Partner With Your Healthcare Team To Stop Opioids Safely. Mayo Clinic.
  4. Pergolizzi, J. V., Raffa, R. B., & Rosenblatt, M. H. (2020, January 27). Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms, A Consequence Of Chronic Opioid Use And Opioid Use Disorder: Current Understanding And Approaches To Management. Wiley Online Library.
  5. Shah, M., & Huecker, M. R. (2023, July 21). Opioid Withdrawal. National Library of Medicine.
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, November 22). Opioids. National Institutes of Health.

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