Long Term Effects of Hydrocodone
After alcohol, opiate drugs (whether heroin or prescription pain medications) account for the second most abused substances in the United States. Hydrocodone, commonly prescribed to treat pain-related conditions, carries powerful analgesic, as well as addictive, properties.
People who take hydrocodone for medical reasons can be just as at risk of addiction as those who use it for recreational purposes. When taken for long periods of time, users subject themselves to the all-consuming effects of the drug.
Over time, the long-term effects of hydrocodone become increasingly apparent as users struggle to cope within their everyday lives. Without needed treatment help, these long-term effects grow worse in severity, placing users at serious risk of developing addiction, illness and psychological disorders.
When it comes to treating conditions involving moderate to severe pain symptoms, doctors prescribe hydrocodone drugs more often than any other medication, according to the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Not surprisingly, hydrocodone is the most commonly abused prescription opiate in the country.
Compared to other opiate drugs, hydrocodone’s effects most resemble those of morphine. For prescription purposes, both generic and brand name drugs combine hydrocodone with other non-opiate drugs, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin and antihistamine agents.
Just a few of the hydrocodone products on the market include –
Combining non-opiate analgesics and antihistamines with hydrocodone further strengthens hydrocodone’s effects.
Hydrocodone carries a high potential for abuse and addiction, which accounts for its classification as a controlled substance. For this reason, it should only be used for short-term treatment purposes.
When abused or not taken as prescribed, long-term effects will take the form of withdrawal symptoms. The longer a person uses hydrocodone the more intense withdrawal effects become.
Over time, users will start to experience the following effects on a more frequent basis –
- Problems sleeping
- Muscle aches and pains
- Tremors in the extremities
Long-Term Psychological Effects
As one of the more potent opiate drugs, ongoing hydrocodone use will cause brain chemical imbalances to develop over time. Opiates, in general, closely resemble the brain’s natural endorphin chemicals. This strong resemblance accounts for hydrocodone’s ability to take over brain chemical processes.
With continued use, the long-term effects of hydrocodone result in physical changes in the brain’s structure. In turn, these changes can cause a person considerable psychological distress on an ongoing basis. Over time, a person may start to experience –
- Bouts of depression
- Frequent mood swings
- Violent outbursts
- Noticeable changes in personality
- Muddled thinking processes
Long-Term Lifestyle Effects
As the mind and body become increasingly dependent on hydrocodone’s effects, users start to structure their lives around maintaining “needed” drug supplies and using the drug. In the process, users develop lifestyles that support ongoing drug use.
Lifestyle effects from long-term hydrocodone abuse include –
- Developing a new social circle made up of other drug users
- Neglecting important friend/family relationships
- Problems on the job
- Developing health problems
- Financial problems
At this point, a person’s life will continue to spiral out of control without needed treatment help.