Hydrocodone High: Side Effects, Abuse and Addiction

What Is Hydrocodone’s High?

Hydrocodone works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and body, leading to an increase in dopamine and a decrease in other neurotransmitters. The body stops producing endorphins, making you feel better. Individuals experience a type of high when taking it. Some experience may feel a sense of:

  • Relaxation
  • Contentment
  • Sociable
  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness –can lead to “nodding off”

This drug creates pain relief by activating specific opioid receptors in the brain. The drug also blocks the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin, which gives users a sense of euphoria.

What Is Hydrocodone Addiction and Its Side Effects?

Hydrocodone is an opioid, meaning that it produces analgesic or pain-relieving effects, as well as euphoria. However, it also can produce nausea, respiratory depression, and constipation. People who abuse it may experience nodding off, feeling more social, content, and having an overall warm feeling. People who abuse this drug may also report feeling tired or lethargic.

The effects of hydrocodone can vary greatly, depending on why someone consumes it. The most common side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased heart rate

These side effects may be effectively controlled through medical treatment, but individuals are often released from a medical professional’s care before completing this process. For example, many emergency departments will release patients into the care of their loved ones with only a prescription for hydrocodone, but without warning about side effects or the risks associated with using the drug recreationally.

Like other opioids, it can cause physical dependence. If you’re physically dependent on it, you’ll need medical attention to wean you off the drug; if you do not receive medical help, you’re likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms. 

What Are the Symptoms of Hydrocodone Abuse?

Hydrocodone users often experience the following symptoms:

  • Cravings for more
  • Habit-forming ability
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In cases of overdose, hydrocodone can cause:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Hypoventilation
  • Hypotension
  • Respiratory depression
  • Cardiac arrest

What Are the Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction?

Some of the signs of hydrocodone addiction include:

  • Craving hydrocodone
  • Using multiple drugs at once
  • Taking higher doses of hydrocodone over time
  • Taking hydrocodone to feel normal
  • Going through withdrawal symptoms
  • Needing hydrocodone just to get out of bed
  • Abusing hydrocodone when it’s not prescribed
  • Lying about hydrocodone usage

How Do You Abuse Hydrocodone?

Many people use this drug in the form of Vicodin® or OxyContin®. In most cases, both of these drugs are crushed and snorted to produce an intense high or swallowed to create a slower but longer-lasting high.

Some individuals also abuse it by using it as a suppository. This method of abuse is not standard, but it is dangerous. Suppositories are administered in the soft tissue of the rectum, and the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lining of the rectum. In addition to being potentially painful, this withdrawal method can become deadly as the drug is absorbed faster and in higher concentrations than intended.

Some people also abuse it by mixing it with other drugs. This method of abuse is hazardous, often leading to hospitalization or death. 

How Is Hydrocodone Abuse Treated?

Hydrocodone abuse is a severe problem, and the consequences of continued use can be life-threatening. If you or someone you love is abusing hydrocodone, it’s essential to get help immediately. The most effective treatment for hydrocodone addiction is through a residential treatment program so that you can receive around-the-clock care.

During treatment, your medical team will work with you to wean you off of hydrocodone and then to help you abstain from drug use in the future. Treatment may include medical detox, psychotherapy, addiction education, and aftercare planning. Throughout treatment, you’ll receive support from your treatment team and receive ongoing medical attention to minimize the risk of relapse.

Can you Overdose on Hydrocodone?

Yes. Accidental overdose is one of the most common causes of death from hydrocodone. The best way to avoid an overdose is to use it only as directed by your physician, take it at the same time every day, and never use more than your prescribed dosage.

Hydrocodone Overdose Signs

Signs of overdose include:

  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Respiratory depression
how long does hydrocodone stay in your system
Side effects of hydrocodone

How Can Someone Overdose on Hydrocodone?

Most overdoses occur when someone has been prescribed the medication and has a legitimate prescription to fill. Usually, the dosage prescribed is accurate, and the patient is not abusing the drug, but an accidental overdose can occur if the patient is prescribed a dose that is too high or takes too many pills at one time.

If someone overdoses, it would be advisable to call 911 immediately. Overdose can cause respiratory depression, which can be deadly if not treated immediately. You can also administer naloxone, an opiate antagonist that can bring someone who is overdosed back from the brink of death.

What Is Hydrocodone Detox?

Detox is a medically-supervised process that allows you to safely and comfortably withdraw from the drug. Detox is most effective when it is a supervised medical process; this way, you can ensure that you don’t accidentally overdose and that you’re not taking any of the drugs.

During detox, you will stop using gradually, with the help of medical professionals who can minimize withdrawal symptoms. Depending on how much of it you’ve been using, you may experience withdrawal symptoms for several days or even for weeks.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

The withdrawal process may be uncomfortable, but it will not be lethal. You can expect to have symptoms such as nausea, headaches, chills, sweating, cramps, and more. Some people also have mental symptoms, including depression, irritability, and extreme boredom or restlessness. These symptoms will slowly fade away over several weeks.

Withdrawal typically lasts for one to two weeks. During this time, you’ll be in a medically-supervised facility where you can access medical care, and if you need it, you can have medication to relieve symptoms.

How Do You Detox from Hydrocodone?

When you detox, you’ll be supported by a medical professional throughout the process. You’ll also have access to other support services, such as:

  • Ongoing medical care
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Education about the risks of drug use

Before detoxing, talk to your doctor about the best detox plan for you.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Detox Last?

The length of time that you stay in detox will depend on the amount of hydrocodone you’ve been using and on your physical and mental health. In general, you can expect to stay in a medically supervised detox facility for at least one week.

What Happens During Hydrocodone Detox?

The detox process will begin with an evaluation to determine which process components are right for you. Detox is a risky process so you will be closely monitored throughout.

During detox, you’ll be encouraged to participate in group therapy and educational sessions. You will have access to medication and supplements that can help ease your physical symptoms during detox.


Many people take it without abuse it or experiencing any problems or complications. Nevertheless, hydrocodone addiction is a severe problem that can have severe consequences for the user, their family, and others. It’s crucial to get help if you or someone you love is using it and getting help as soon as possible.