Hydrocodone is a medication prescribed to relieve severe pain. As part of the opioid family, it works in the brain by releasing feelings of pleasure and euphoria. This makes it vulnerable to the risk of getting abused, resulting in it falling as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
If you happen to encounter this kind of medication among your family and friends, or even yourself, it pays to know the risks that come along with it. Read on to further understand the nature of hydrocodone and how to effectively manage its use.
What To Expect For Using Hydrocodone
This is a semi-synthetic opioid that was initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of a cough suppressant syrup but at present is now widely used as a treatment for post-surgical and cancer-related pain.
The following are three basic things to know upon using this substance as a medication.
1. It is safe and effective.
This medication can be safe and effective given that it is used correctly and under the close supervision of a physician. This substance is only recommended as a last resort in case any other measures no longer work.
Just like other opioids, the use of this substance in conjunction with alcohol may pose danger. It is also definitely not recommended to pregnant women and lactating mothers. Pre-existing ailments must also be thoroughly discussed with the physician to avoid complications later on.
2. It can be addictive.
Even a prescribed use of the substance may lead to chronic addiction in a span of less than a week. It is important to understand that taking the drug may trigger tendencies of physical and psychological dependence.
The drug is designed to block the pain received by the body by releasing extreme relief and pleasure. Excessive use or incorrect use of the substance may lead one to the habit of craving for these “feeling good” experiences brought by taking the drug.
3. It poses withdrawal symptoms.
It is common for the body to build tolerance against the substance especially when the drug is taken for longer periods. It is likely to happen that the body will demand a higher dose to keep it effective as a medication.
Certain side effects can inevitably occur in the middle of the process, and when things become unbearable, it is never advisable to suddenly quit. Extreme withdrawal symptoms can instantly follow after quitting and could be difficult to manage.
How to Prevent Hydrocodone Addiction
Substance addiction is likely to occur despite accurate medical prescriptions. The length of the medication, as well as the dose, is taken, are strong factors that contribute to addiction. It is best to always be in constant communication with the doctor to effectively manage the drug’s effects on the user.
The following are suggested ways to prevent addiction to the substance:
● Keep your doctor informed of your feelings.
As soon as you start taking the medicine, pay close attention to the impact of the drug on you and keep your doctor informed. Never attempt to quit taking it nor shift the dosage on your own.
If you feel like the drug is becoming less effective in managing your pain, or if certain side effects bother you, let your doctor know right away. You could be prescribed to take another medicine or increase the dosage of your in-take.
● Strictly follow the doctor’s prescription.
If there is anything in the prescription that you do not understand, always ask your physician for clarification. Make sure to exactly follow the dosage given and take it at exactly the same time each day.
In case you miss a dose, you may skip it and just continue with your routine. Never take two or more capsules within 12 hours each day and tablets within 24 hours.
● Swallow your medicine whole.
The medicine comes as extended-release capsules and extended release-tablets. This means it contains a specific kind of technology that prevents it from being crushed or dissolved. Its effect is also released gradually once taken.
The best way to take this is to swallow it whole with water. Do not let it stay long in your mouth by chewing and do not take it by crushing, dissolving, or dividing. Doing this will only increase the risk of overdose and even death.
When Can Hydrocodone Be Dangerous
The drug can be very dangerous when abused and misused. The effects are life-threatening and fatal. Long-term abuse of this opioid can also lead to long-term side effects.
The most prominent danger to watch out for with excessive use of the substance is overdose. A person may suffer from difficulty in breathing as well as heart failure. These are fatal indications that need urgent medical help.
Long-term effects may include mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Insomnia is also likely to be experienced. All these can be treated through therapy. However, the substance can also greatly damage the kidney and the liver which can be very difficult to treat.
It is also important to keep in mind that using the substance in conjunction with other substances such as alcohol and antihistamines results in drowsiness, fatigue, and worse, coma.
Acetaminophen, a substance common among over-the-counter painkillers, is formulated in hydrocodone. This is toxic to the liver and excessive use may cause internal hemorrhage and ulcers.
To prevent dangerous complications, the physician should know other medications taken by the patient before the prescription. The combination of such dangerous substances must be avoided at all costs.
When To Seek Immediate Help
Keep watch for signs of allergies such as hives and swelling of the face or throat. Difficulty in breathing is also a red flag. Once these occur, seek medical help right away.
Other serious conditions include nausea, fatigue, and seizures. The patient may also experience confusion and slow beating of the heart which can be manifested through shallow breathing. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these.
Overall, your dedication and constant commitment to this medication are necessary to keep you safe and ready to improve.