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What Is Hydrocodone Abuse?

By Nicole Long
Updated May 17, 2024
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Hydrocodone abuse is a widespread problem in many parts of the world. Desired by addicts for its euphoric effects, hydrocodone abuse can stem from legal used of the prescription drug or from illegal behavior. Those addicted to hydrocodone often turn to illegal acts, such as forgery and theft, to obtain the drug and continue fueling their habit.

The drug hydrocodone is typically prescribed for pain management. This can include pain management over both short and long periods of time. Hydrocodone is also an antitussive, or cough suppressant, found in some prescription cough syrups. Considered an opiate, hydrocodone lends itself to abuse and dependence. Generally, hydrocodone abuse occurs through the swallowing of pills.

Those who are prescribed hydrocodone for pain management may develop an addiction to the medication if not handled properly by both the patient and physician. Short-term use, such as after surgery or for painful bone fractures or injuries, can be enough to spur an addiction in those who find the euphoric effect of the drug attractive. Those taking the drug for long periods of time, particularly those dealing with chronic pain, can also develop a higher level of tolerance for the drug and experience symptoms related to withdrawal when doses are missed or when they try to stop the medication on their own.

Another segment of the population may be introduced to the drug through illegal means. This can occur with younger children who take medication prescribed to their parents or due to peer pressure from schoolmates. Addiction and the aftermath related to drug abuse may be furthest from their mind when participating in what seems like a one-time or temporary activity. The dependency and addiction of opiates is well-documented. It can occur with little warning, especially in those not aware of the dangers.

In those that abuse hydrocodone, the need for the drug may lead to deceptive and illegal practices to obtain it. Hydrocodone abuse can lead addicts to intentionally deceive a physician. Addicts may exaggerate pain and other symptoms in order to encourage a physician to continue to write a prescription for the medication. This is often the case in those that become addicted after using hydrocodone for a legitimate short-term use. Other possible tactics include theft of prescription hydrocodone from family members, friends, or local pharmacies.

Hydrocodone abuse can also lead to many unwanted and dangerous side effects. Possible complications include damage to the liver and death. When combined with alcohol, hydrocodone is particularly dangerous and can cause further damage to the liver and lead to poor decision making.

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