Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid produced from codeine, an opioid found in opium poppy plant. The drug falls under the narcotic analgesics or pain killer medicines. Commonly comes in a liquid form, doctors prescribed the drug to relieve pain, stops and even prevents a cough. The drug is considered as an opioid which affects the nervous system and used as a pain medication to alleviate moderate to severe pain.
The drug proved as more helpful than codeine for suppressing cough but more deadly that morphine.
History of Hydrocodone
In 1920 Carl Mannich and Helene Lowenheim first synthesized hydrocodone in Germany. The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the drug on March 23, 1943. The Health Canada also approved hydrocodone under the brand name, hycodan.
The two added oxygen to codeine to solve the common side effect of it such as stomach discomfort and high level of toxicity.
Knoll first marketed hydrocodone as Dicodid in Germany on February 1924. Within a few years, several drugs came out in the market such as Dilaudid, Dihydrin, Dinarkon and Dimorphan.
Reports of addiction from the drug did not become apparent until 1961, more than 30 years since it first marketed.
How it is abused
As a painkiller, hydrocodone acts in the thousands of opioid receptors on the body. It does not cure the pain through its source, it only changes the patient’s perception of the pain. The feeling can be habit-forming particularly to people who seek the sensation. Some of the sought after sensation includes, numbness, sleepiness, reduced stress even increased the sense of one’s self.
According to the International Narcotics Control Board, hydrocodone is prescribed mainly in the United States. Reports stated that the US consumed about 99% of the international supply in 2007. The prescribed name of Hydrocodone includes Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab.
In a study of the National Institute of Health or NIH, it estimated that 20% of Americans consumed the drug such as Vicodin for non-medical reasons. An increasing number of people abused the drug. A more alarming report came from the Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA in 2013. The report shows that in the US alone, 24 million over the 21 years of age used hydrocodone for no apparent reasons.
One key factor that made hydrocodone as one highly addictive drug is its availability. The DEA reported that 136 hydrocodone dispensed prescription were made in 2013. Numbers continues to rise with an added increase of 20 million of prescription each year since 2006.
Hydrocodone use resulted to an estimated 100,000 abuse-related hospital emergency related in the US for the year 2011. To decrease the numbers, the US government created stricter prescribing rules for the drug in 2014.
Signs and symptoms
Addiction to hydrocodone usually starts with a prescription which leads to its dependence. It then gradually rises for the need to consume hydrocodone in spite of its side effects. The effects of hydrocodone can be deadly like that of morphine and heroin.
The drug works in the reward system of the brain which fortifies for its dependence. Prolonged abuse of the drug can result in the short and long term damage in both physical and mental state.
Mild Side Effects
Patients taking hydrocodone may experience some mild effects which gradually wears off. These may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble sleeping
Severe Side Effects of Hydrocodone
Long-term exposure to hydrocodone can lead to irreversible outcomes. The drug can affect the normal function of the brain reward system, thus making it hard to find pleasure in most activities.
Hydrocodone contains depressant quality and can result to some of the serious side effects listed. The drug can slow down the heart rate which may stop the beating of the heart. It is important to seek immediate medical attention when these symptoms are noticed or felt:
- Trouble urinating
- Slowed or erratic heartbeat
- breathing problems
- bowel obstruction
- severe itching, hives or swelling
Problem with Hydrocodone Addiction
The most difficult about hydrocodone addiction will be the intervention. The drug’s availability made it impossible to stop a user since their perception is that they are following a legitimate doctor’s order. It is important to consider the options for the overall treatment of the patient.