Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid drug used for treating severe pain and sometimes cough.1,2 It comes in several forms—some are pure hydrocodone, while others are combined with other drugs, like acetaminophen. Some well-known hydrocodone brand names include:1,2
Even though hydrocodone can be safely used as a prescription medicine, it and other opioid medicines can lead to misuse. 3 Misuse includes taking it without a prescription or in a different amount or way than your doctor told you.3 But even regular use can lead to dependence. Nonmedical use can increase this risk, as well as the risk of addiction and overdose.3 In this article, we’ll explore hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms, timeline, and how to find help.
As mentioned, taking hydrocodone can lead to dependence.4 This means your body has gotten used to the drug and you may have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly cut back or stop using it.4 Common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:1,4
Opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable. This discomfort may lead some to start using opioids again to feel better.5 If you’re having a hard time quitting opioids, you are not alone, and there is hope. Many safe and effective treatment options exist. We’ll explore some of these options below.
The withdrawal timeline for hydrocodone and other opioids isn’t the same for everyone. How long withdrawal lasts, which symptoms you have, and how bad they are depend on:6
Hydrocodone withdrawal can start as early as 8 hours after your last dose. 7 If you are taking an “extended-release” (ER) formula, withdrawal may not begin until up to 24 hours after your last dose. 9 Withdrawal symptoms tend to slowly get worse for 1 to 3 days after your last dose before slowly getting better.7 Total withdrawal time is usually 7 to 10 days. 7
In most cases, withdrawal from hydrocodone or other opioids is not life-threatening.6 But withdrawal can be intense and unpleasant.4 Medical detox can help ease the discomfort of withdrawal while keeping you as safe as possible.6 It can take place at an inpatient or outpatient setting. Your doctor can help you choose the setting that works best for your needs. In general: 6,10
You can choose from many safe and effective options to help treat withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor can help you find a program that fits your needs.
Detox can help you take the first step, but lasting recovery from hydrocodone and other opioid use disorders (OUDs) usually involves further treatment. 10 This may include additional rehabilitation, behavioral therapy, and support groups.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved certain medicines to manage withdrawal symptoms for OUD. Some medicines help reduce drug cravings, while others help with the physical symptoms of withdrawal, such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, insomnia, fever, and pain.6,7
Methadone and buprenorphine reduce cravings and help ease withdrawal symptoms.4 Some people keep taking these after detox to help prevent relapse (return to drug use after a period of not using).6
Clonidine and lofexidine (Lucemyra) help ease symptoms such as chills, sweating, racing pulse, muscle tension, twitching, and stomach cramps.6,8
Opioid withdrawal can be very challenging. To make withdrawal symptoms stop, some people start taking hydrocodone or other opioids again.5 This continues the cycle of addiction and can even be dangerous, as many opioid overdose deaths are in people who have recently detoxed.4
It can be helpful to speak with your doctor or other treatment professional before trying to quit opioids on your own. Quitting without detox support can lead to unnecessary discomfort at the very start of your recovery efforts.7 Treatment professionals are in a better position to assess your withdrawal risks and help you find the right treatment plan to meet your recovery goals.
Withdrawal can be intense, but you don’t have to go through it alone. A professional detox center can help keep you comfortable and safe.
It may not be possible to avoid all withdrawal symptoms. But fear of withdrawal does not have to keep you from getting the help you need. Supervised medical detox can help you manage withdrawal symptoms while keeping you as comfortable and safe as possible.6
Detox is an important first step in the recovery process. American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of medical detox and substance use treatment across the United States. We offer complete recovery services using evidence-based practices with trained and compassionate staff. If you’re ready to take the first step toward recovery, call 1-888-509-8965 Who Answers? to speak to an Admissions Navigator. We’re standing by to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls are free and confidential.