Hydrocodone prescription drugs include the brand names Vicodin, Lorcet, and Lortab, among others. They are extremely effective painkiller under medical supervision but can quickly turn addictive if users aren’t careful. Hydrocodone addiction can sometimes manifest after only a few short weeks of use.

Patients can become increasingly reliant on hydrocodone prescription drugs to not only relieve their pain but to simply feel normal as their brain chemically changes in response to long-term use. Other individuals may initially take hydrocodone “recreationally” for the euphoria or numbing sensations. Still others may use it to self-medicate instead of seeking counseling or therapy.

Hydrocodone Side Effects

The side effects of abusing hydrocodone prescription drugs include: drowsiness, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, vomiting, trouble breathing, itching, anxiety, mood changes, restlessness, and constipation. Hydrocodone abuse can also result in a potentially fatal overdose that is characterized by: slowed heart rate, respiratory depression, hypotension, circulatory collapse, and cardiac arrest.

Life-threatening Consequences 

Most hydrocodone-based drugs are also mixed with other substances such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can cause serious and even fatal damage to their liver when ingested at higher levels. Although users develop a tolerance to hydrocodone after extended use, the liver does not develop a tolerance to acetaminophen. When they increase their dosage of hydrocodone as a result of tolerance, they can poison themselves (sometimes fatally) from the higher levels of acetaminophen.

Some of the damage from hydrocodone addiction is a result of the addict’s obsession with the drug and their resulting drug-seeking behaviors. Oftentimes, hydrocodone abusers will “prescription shop” to get a regular supply of their pills. They can also begin buying the drugs at school or on the street. This can lead to theft or other illegal activities in order to pay for their increasingly expensive daily habit. These behaviors can often break up families and alienate friends at exactly the time when the addict needs them most.