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Article Summary

Hydrocodone Withdrawal

Hydrocodone is an opiate analgesic, approved for the treatment of mild to moderate pain conditions. It is also used medically for the suppression of cough. Like other opiates, Hydrocodone has the potential to create drug dependence and the patient may continue to use the medication long after the initial illness that warranted its use. Sudden discontinuation of Hydrocodone can cause a number of withdrawal effects on the body. Although, Hydrocodone withdrawal effects are not life threatening, it can be extremely bothersome and debilitating. Some effects of Hydrocodone withdrawal may last for several months, while some will subside in a week or so.

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms:

Patients are advised to follow a regular schedule and take only the prescribed amount of Hydrocodone, because missing a dose can cause withdrawal symptoms such as

a. Flu like illness:

Flu-like symptoms are one of the most common Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms. These effects may include general feeling of illness, achiness, and fatigue. Unusual sweating may bother some individuals especially at night, while other might experience goosebumbs and chills. These effects can be minimized by taking an over-the counter medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

b. Diarrhoea:

Opiates can cause constipation, especially when used for a long period of time. Upon discontinuation of Hydrocodone, severe diarrhea may occur which may last for several weeks or months. Anti-diarrheals can be used, if directed by the physician. Nausea, vomiting and loss or appetite can also be experienced by some individuals. Dehydration results after excessive vomiting or diarrhea, and should be treated accordingly.

c. Pains:

Discontinuation of Hydrocodone can cause increased levels of pain, as the drug is mainly prescribed as a pain reliever. Some patients may report backache or headache, while others may experience generalized pains and aches especially during the first several days of withdrawal. Muscle aches are also prevalent and the lower back pain will last for several weeks or months. Pain conditions may become so uncomfortable and may lead to feelings of fatigue or lethargy. Use of over-the-counter pain medications can minimize pains and aches caused by Hydrocodone withdrawal.

d. Anxiety:

Hydrocodone has a relaxing or sedating effect on the user. Upon discontinuation, the opposite effects occur resulting in anxiety or agitation. These effects are manifested in the form of impending doom or a feeling of panic, while others experience insomnia. The feeling of abnormally energetic or restless makes the person difficult to get sleep or stay in sleep throughout the night.

e. Dilated pupils:

Hydrocodone withdrawal causes dilated pupil and so, people experiencing such effects may wish to avoid direct or bright sunlight.

f. Altered mood:

Withdrawal from Hydrocodone may exhibit mood alternations like, the feeling of unusually irritable, nervous, restless, or anxious. Altered mood can negatively affect the individual's social interactions and can create problems at school or work.

g. Sweating:

Hydrocodone withdrawal can cause profuse sweating. Excessive sweating can make the person awake throughout the night frequently, resulting in daytime fatigue and sleep difficulties. Some patients may also develop chills or fever in conjunction with sweating as a result Hydrocodone withdrawal.

h. Runny nose:

Nasal congestion may occur, which may develop in to a runny or stuffy nose. This makes the patients to blow their nose frequently to relieve from congestion.

i. Fatigue:

Generalized fatigue is one common withdrawal effect following Hydrocodone use. Fatigue caused as a result of Hydrocodone withdrawal is not alleviated by rest, sleep or relaxation.

j. Tiredness:

Some people may experience, a general sense of well-being or high energy following Hydrocodone use. A sudden cessation of Hydrocodone may result in unusual feeling of tiredness. The tiredness experienced by Hydrocodone addicts can also be attributed to poor sleeping habits and poor eating, while taking the medication

k. Drug cravings:

Strong drug cravings may occur when Hydrocodone is stopped, especially when it is abused in the past. These psychological symptoms are so severe and might even continue even after the physical symptom of withdrawal subsides.


Hydrocodone is an opiate and has the potential for dependence, abuse and addiction. Sudden cessation of the medicine can result in withdrawal symptoms. The severity of these Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms is proportionate to the length of time the individual is taking the medication and also the dose. These withdrawal symptoms are not fatal, but are highly uncomfortable to the user.

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