Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline
Hydrocodone withdrawal is similar to most other types of opioid withdrawal syndromes and particularly more so to those of short-acting opioids like heroin and morphine than long-acting opioids like methadone. When someone becomes dependent on hydrocodone, their withdrawal symptoms usually last about a week or so. According to Harvard Medical School, “Short-acting opiates tend to produce more intense but briefer symptoms.”
First Stage (Day 1-2)
The first stage of hydrocodone withdrawal, like with most opioid withdrawal syndromes, is usually the most painful and uncomfortable. Individuals in this stage often experience symptoms such as:
- Muscle aches
- Increased tearing
- Runny nose
This stage is painful due to the absence of the pain-relieving effects of hydrocodone in the individual’s system and also feels like having a bad case of the flu. Hydrocodone withdrawal is more similar to heroin withdrawal because of it is a short-acting drug, and according to the NLM, “Symptoms usually start within 12 hours of last heroin usage.” A person will likely begin to experience these symptoms around the same time of their last hydrocodone use and last about a day or two.
Second Stage (Day 3-5)
The second stage is less intense than the first but can still cause many uncomfortable symptoms for the individual. At this point, it will be especially important for the person undergoing withdrawal to stay hydrated as the symptoms can cause severe dehydration.
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Goose bumps
During this time, the individual will likely feel very uncomfortable but there will be less pain than the first stage. Hydrocodone withdrawal can seem to last a long time in this stage, and those who experience it are often very relieved when the second stage has ended. It is important to remember, though, that a third stage exists.
Third Stage (Day 6+)
In some cases, the third stage can last only a day or a few more depending on the individual case. This may include:
- How often the user was abusing the drug
- How high their doses of hydrocodone were
- Whether or not they are being treated with medication through their detox
The third stage usually starts with the subsiding of the more uncomfortable symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. However, it is important to understand that these symptoms do not entirely disappear after stage two and, if a person pushes themselves too hard after the cessation of that stage, it could be very difficult for them.
Remembering to give yourself time to rest for a few more days is necessary, and you should not go back to your full schedule until all the symptoms have subsided. This means that, even when you are starting to feel better, you are probably still undergoing withdrawal and should take it easy.
Hydrocodone withdrawal usually lasts about a week or a week and a half, depending on the individual. It can also be much less intense and more controlled if you decide to attend detox at a facility where you will go through medically-assisted withdrawal.