Long-Term Effects Of Hydrocodone Abuse And Addiction
Chronic abuse of opioids like hydrocodone can cause a number of long-term side effects. These effects include damage to a person’s physical, psychological, and mental wellbeing. Getting help for hydrocodone addiction can prevent these effects and improve the quality of life.
Hydrocodone is one of the most commonly prescribed pain medications in the United States. This drug is an opioid, meaning that it is partially derived from the natural opium found in opium poppy plants.
Hydrocodone is found in a number of drugs, including Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, and Norco. It is chemically similar to other opioids like morphine and heroin.
This substance is classified as a Schedule II drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that it is highly regulated by the FDA and has the potential for abuse and addiction. In fact, hydrocodone has been found to be just as addictive as oxycodone and other prescribed opiates.
Many people can take hydrocodone without becoming addicted to the drug. This is especially true if the medication is taken as prescribed and for only a short period of time. However, people who abuse this drug are at risk of serious physical dependence and addiction.
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When someone is abusing hydrocodone, he or she will quickly build up a tolerance to the drug. This means that more of the drug needs to be taken in order to experience the same effect. The more a person uses hydrocodone, the more severe dependence and addiction will be.
Hydrocodone abuse and addiction comes with a number of negative short-term and long-term side effects. The more frequently this drug is abused, the more likely a person is to experience these effects.
Long-Term Physical Effects Of Hydrocodone Abuse
Abusing hydrocodone long-term can be especially dangerous to a person’s overall health. Both psychological and physical changes take place with extended hydrocodone abuse and addiction.
Physical effects of long-term hydrocodone abuse and addiction include:
Malnutrition And Weight Loss — Many people who abuse hydrocodone experience a reduction in appetite. As a result, a person will likely eat less and lose weight. Over time, this can result in malnutrition.
Cardiovascular Problems — People who abuse hydrocodone for many years may be more prone to heart failure and other cardiovascular conditions.
Hormonal Issues — Hydrocodone abuse can lead to decreased levels of hormones, which can cause depression and negatively impact fertility. It can also cause damage to the pancreas and thyroid, both of which play an important role in hormone regulation.
Chronic Gastrointestinal Problems — Many people who take hydrocodone experience constipation, nausea, and bloating. Long-term use of this drug can result in chronic constipation and other gastrointestinal issues that can range from uncomfortable to severe.
Sleep Apnea — Long-term opioid abuse and addiction can result in the development of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes oxygen deprivation.
Suppressed Breathing — Opioids are known for the respiratory depression they cause. Abusing hydrocodone can result in continued suppressed breathing. This causes oxygen deprivation in the brain and body and can result in hypoxemia. Hypoxemia can damage major organs in the body as well as the brain.
What’s more, abusing drugs that contain both hydrocodone and acetaminophen can result in damage to the liver. Vicodin is a commonly prescribed drug that contains both of these substances. While the hydrocodone will not cause liver damage, high levels of acetaminophen can severely affect the liver and even lead to liver failure.
Long-Term Psychological And Mental Effects Of Hydrocodone Abuse
In addition to the physical side effects of long-term hydrocodone abuse and addiction, there are also a number of psychological and mental effects that can occur.
These effects may include:
Hyperalgesia — This condition is defined by an abnormally increased sensitivity to pain. This occurs as a result of damage done to the opioid receptors in the brain due to chronic hydrocodone use. Hyperalgesia makes people more likely to experience intense pain and can also lengthen the time it takes to recover from injury or surgery.
Brain Damage — Opioids like hydrocodone work by flooding the brain with neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Long-term abuse of hydrocodone can cause changes in the brain and how it creates and regulates neurotransmitters. This can have a negative effect on emotions, learning, and memory.
Physical and Psychological Dependence — Abusing hydrocodone over an extended period of time can result in the body and brain becoming dependent on the drug. Dependency means that without the drug a person will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to severe, and many people will continue to abuse hydrocodone in order to avoid withdrawal.
Getting Help For Hydrocodone Abuse And Addiction
Long-term hydrocodone abuse and addiction can have a number of adverse physical, mental, and psychological side effects. However, seeking treatment can help to prevent these effects.
There are a number of different treatment options available for opioid addiction. Many people will need to start with a medically supervised detox program to safely withdraw from the drug. Detox programs offer medical support during the withdrawal period and ensure the patient is comfortable and safe.
Many people have found success through a formal treatment program. This may include participation in an inpatient program. Inpatient treatment is the most intensive form of recovery treatment and offers individualized therapies and plans of recovery.
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