Hydrocodone is an opioid painkiller that is highly addictive and produces a high level of tolerance very quickly. Ending an addiction to hydrocodone requires more than good intentions and willpower, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and medical detox and holistic addiction treatment dramatically improves the chances of successful long-term recovery.1
Hydrocodone detox is the first step in the recovery journey and addresses hydrocodone dependence. Dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms that set in when use suddenly stops. A high quality medical detox program ends dependence on hydrocodone and engages you in addiction treatment. Here’s how it works and what you can expect.
How Hydrocodone Detox Ends Dependence
Dependence develops as a result of brain changes that occur with heavy hydrocodone abuse. Hydrocodone acts on a variety of neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, increasing or reducing their activity to produce the euphoric feelings associated with the drug. As Hydrocodone is chronically abuses the brain adjusts its chemical activities in an attempt to maintain normal brain function.This produces tolerance, which means that you need larger and larger doses of hydrocodone to get the same effects smaller doses once produced. As you use more, your brain continues to alter its neurotransmitter function to compensate. At some point, brain function may shift so that the brain operates more comfortably when hydrocodone is present. Then, when you suddenly stop using, normal neurotransmitter function rebounds.
Medical detox involves medications that are administered by medical professionals to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, shorten the time it takes to detox and help restore normal brain function. A high quality detox program also will offer a variety of complementary therapies to reduce stress, improve symptoms and help promote feelings of calm and wellbeing. Yoga, acupuncture and massage therapy are commonly used treatments in hydrocodone detox programs.
During medical detox, a variety of assessments help your team of providers evaluate the severity of the addiction and underlying issues. This information is used to develop a comprehensive, individualized treatment program that will take place after detox and address a wide range of problems and issues.
How long it takes to detox depends on a number of factors, including the severity of your dependence, how much hydrocodone is in your system at the time of detox and your general state of physical and mental health.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Hydrocodone Detox
Many high quality detox programs offer medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, which involves taking medications that reduce cravings, prevent withdrawal, block the effects of hydrocodone and help to restore normal brain function. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cites MAT as the “gold standard” of opioid treatment.2
Medication-assisted treatment has been shown through research to:
- Help engage clients in treatment
- Reduce opioid abuse and associated criminal activities
- Improve social functioning
- Increase the chances of finding and maintaining successful employment
Medication is just one component of MAT. The other component is counseling to treat the addiction, which is far more complex than physical dependence. Addiction treatment involves a variety of traditional and complementary therapies that address the underlying causes of addiction, which often include chronic stress, a history of trauma or mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Therapy helps you identify and change dysfunctional ways of thinking and behaving, and it helps you develop the skills to recover from hydrocodone addiction for good.
Detox and Treatment Lead to Long-Term Recovery
Hydrocodone dependence and addiction are treatable. Treatment works for most people who engage with their program and remain in rehab for an adequate period of time, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.3
Ending an addiction to hydrocodone isn’t easy, but then, neither is struggling with addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to hydrocodone, detox is the first step toward recovery. Once the dependence is broken and brain function has begun to return to normal, treatment will help end the addiction, restore function to life and improve quality of life and wellbeing for the long-haul.