How Hydrocodone Dependence Leads to Addiction
Hydrocodone is a habit-forming drug, meaning that a person could develop an addiction for it if they take the drug for a long enough time and begin to abuse it. Dependence, which is a condition “in which the body adapts to the drug,” may lead to addiction, but it is important to understand how this occurs (NIDA).
Dependence on Hydrocodone
Anyone who takes hydrocodone, whether they are doing so to abuse the euphoric or pain-reducing effects of the drug or by a doctor’s orders where they do not stray from the use of the drug, can become dependent on it. A person does not need to abuse a drug to become dependent, but dependence can lead to abuse.
A person becomes dependent on hydrocodone when
- They no longer feel like they can function without the drug (IE need it to fall asleep/wake up, take it every day by necessity).
- They experience uncomfortable and painful withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug such as muscle aches and pains, vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms.
- They rely on the drug to make them feel good or normal and cannot feel these things without it.
Hydrocodone dependence in itself can be treated with detox and a slow tapering down of the drug in order to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. However, this condition can lead to addiction for which much more treatment will be necessary.
Dependence Leading to Addiction
For someone who is dependent on hydrocodone but following the dosage set by their doctor, “there is no compulsive use” yet (NIDA). This is what separates the individual with dependence from those who are addicted. Still, a person can become addicted after they become dependent by the actions they choose to take.
- If an individual is dependent on hydrocodone, they will likely also experience tolerance to the drug’s effects and need more than the prescribed dosage in order to feel the same effects as before.
- This may cause them to start taking more of the drug, against doctor’s orders.
- If the person’s treatment regimen stops (or they are not able to get as much of the drug through their prescription as they would like), they may start buying hydrocoodne or stealing prescriptions. Doctor shopping also occurs in this case.
- Individuals who become dependent on hydrocodone and then begin to abuse the drug as a result are putting themselves in danger of becoming addicted.
- Their use of hydrocodone will soon become compulsive and they will not be able to stop. This is the definition of addiction.
When a person becomes dependent on hydrocodone, they may begin to make up excuses to take more of the drug or try to get access to it in other ways. If they begin to compulsively seek hydrocodone out in order to feed the dependency they have on the drug, this leads to addiction extremely quickly.
A good way to avoid this is to always talk to your doctor about how you are feeling. If you think that you are beginning to abuse your hydrocodone medication in order to feel normal or feel the drug’s effects better, talk to your doctor before your dependence on hydrocodone leads to addiction.