What do you really know about this popular painkiller that is increasingly being abused?

We hear so much about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, but how much do we really know about the prescription pain relievers at the center of the news stories?

Hydrocodone Basics

Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers and is combined with acetaminophen, a less potent pain reliever, which acts to increase the effects of hydrocodone. They are combined to relieve moderate to severe pain, and this is the form prescription versions take.

Hydrocodone or dihydrocodeinone is a semi-synthetic opioid that is made from two naturally occurring opiates: codeine and thebaine. As a narcotic, hydrocodone relieves pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Production of hydrocodone has increased significantly in recent years as legal and illicit use of the drug has grown. Hydrocodone is typically found in combination with other drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol.

Brand Names for Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone may not be a household name, but that’s because the drug is better known by its many brand names including Anexsia, Hycet, Liquicet, Lorcet, Lortab Maxidone, Norco, Polygesic, and perhaps the most well-known brand, Vicodin.

Side Effects of Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone can impair your thinking or reactions, so even those using it legally and as prescribed are warned to be careful if driving or doing anything that requires them to be awake and alert. Anyone allergic to acetaminophen (Tylenol) should not take hydrocodone.

Because hydrocodone can be habit-forming, its especially dangers when taken by someone it wasn’t prescribed for or for some reason other than its intended use.

Hydrocodone Abuse

Misuse of hydrocodone is growing and can quickly lead to physical and psychological dependence. This includes continuing to take hydrocodone when the symptoms necessitating it have subsided or taking it when it has not been prescribed for you. The potential for addiction varies from individual to individual depending on unique biological differences.

“The abuse of narcotic pain relievers is a serious and growing public-health problem,” according to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Administrator Charles Curie, who added, “Narcotic pain medications are wonders of modern medicine for patients with serious pain who are under the care of physicians. When diverted from their legitimate use, however, they are highly addictive narcotics that the body perceives exactly as if the person were taking heroin.”

Data from emergency rooms shows that 40 percent of the 119,000 cases in 2002 where narcotic pain medications were mentioned involved hydrocodone or oxycodone, according to SAMHSA.

Hydrocodone Overdose

An overdose of hydrocodone and acetaminophen can be fatal. Possible overdose symptoms include extreme drowsiness, sweating, pinpoint pupils, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, jaundice, confusion, cold and clammy skin, muscle weakness, fainting, weak pulse, slow heart rate, coma, blue lips, shallow breathing, or no breathing.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is battling an addiction to prescription medication, contact The Oaks at La Paloma at our toll-free number. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day.