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Managing Hydrocodone Withdrawal: Everything You Need to Know

By Manjari Bansal
Medically Reviewed by Yilang Tang, MD, PhD on July 11, 2021
Trying to quit hydrocodone but worried about withdrawal symptoms? Learn different treatment options for hydrocodone withdrawal and how to get help.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, hydrocodone is a highly addictive drug and the most commonly abused prescription opioid. Once your body is dependent on the drug, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it or significantly reduce your dosage. Being aware of hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can give you an idea of what to expect if you or someone you love are planning to give up the drug.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

When you take hydrocodone for a long time, your body may become less sensitive to its effects. 

“Over time, your body desires more and more of the drug to achieve the same outcome,” Aniko Dunn, PsyD, psychologist at EZCare Clinic in San Francisco, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Prolonged use changes the way nerve receptors work in your brain, and these receptors become reliant upon the drug to function. Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s physical response to the absence of the drug.”

According to the American Addiction Centers, hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Intense cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Body ache
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite changes
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Managing Withdrawal from Hydrocodone

According to the American Addiction Centers, withdrawal symptoms typically appear within 30 to 72 hours after you stop taking hydrocodone. These symptoms may last up to 2 weeks. One way to possibly prevent severe withdrawal symptoms is to gradually reduce you dose rather than quitting cold turkey. An addiction specialist may also recommend substitution therapy, in which they prescribe an alternative opioid meant to ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This carefully-dosed medication stays effective for a longer time than the addictive opioid, and does not produce habit-forming feelings of euphoria. 

If you or your loved one choose to withdraw from hydrocodone with professional assistance, you can be treated at inpatient or outpatient rehab centers

“Inpatient (or residential) treatment is considered the most effective way to overcome addiction, as it fully removes people from their environment and allows them to focus on recovery,” Dunn says. “Standard inpatient programs include individual psychotherapy sessions, group therapy, family therapy and some therapeutic amenities, such as yoga, art and music therapy.”

Outpatient treatment may be suitable if you have a stable and safe home life. You may go for treatment during the day and return home at night. 

“Outpatient treatment provides addiction treatment at a designated facility for a set number of hours and days each week,” Dunn says. “This allows people with demanding responsibilities, such as children or work, to receive rehab treatment while continuing to meet their obligations.”

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