Addiction to this drug can develop rapidly.
Psychological dependence can develop within the very first doses of hydrocodone, while physical symptoms of addiction can occur within a week.
Some signs include:
- Mood swings
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slowed heartbeat
- Slow or suppressed breathing
- Rising tolerance to the same doses
- Compulsive or preoccupied thoughts about using the drug
Dependence on hydrocodone will often occur with increased side effects and withdrawal symptoms when not intoxicated. For example, sedation, low blood pressure, and euphoria will often accompany anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness when the drug leaves the system. These swings back and forth are likely to bring on a noticeably erratic emotional state.
Early in addiction, a user may take hydrocodone primarily for its euphoric effects. However, eventually addicted users may rely on the drug to avoid negative feelings and other withdrawal symptoms.
You also might recognize some changes in behavior as hydrocodone addiction progresses. The most common of these is taking the drug in ways that contradict the prescription. This could mean taking more in each dose or taking it more frequently than recommended. It could also mean taking it in a different way than recommended (e.g. crumbling and snorting).
Other behaviors you may notice in yourself or a family member include:
Preoccupation: Addicted users will generally experience obsessive thoughts about taking hydrocodone, even when not in pain.
Seeking: Finding new ways to access the drug or similar drugs to get the same high. This could include lying about symptoms to a doctor or going to more than one doctor for a prescription.
Withdrawing from loved ones: Pulling away from one’s community is a behavior frequently associated with opioid addiction. On the one hand, you may feel a need to keep your use secret from the people close to you. On the other hand, when addiction takes hold of the mind, it takes precedence over everything and distracts from socializing with family members.
Risk-taking: Users suffering from dependency may find that they are more willing to engage with dangerous behaviors. This can include taking or sourcing the drug in more risky ways. Hydrocone addiction can also cloud thinking and even lead to risky activities like intoxicated driving, unprotected sex, or violence.
Work or school problems: As dependency develops, it stands in the way of work or school. During both the euphoric high and uncomfortable withdrawal, it is difficult to focus on or prioritize tasks unrelated to the drug. Mood swings at work or school are also extremely difficult to manage.
Appearance changes: When struggling with substance abuse, personal hygiene and everyday self-care practices may fall behind. A person addicted to hydrocodone may look tired, more unkempt, or more poorly put together than they did before.
Changes in sleep or appetite: Hydrocodone suppresses appetite and causes drowsiness when the user is under its influence. When in withdrawal, dependent users may experience opposite effects, including insomnia, restlessness, diarrhea, or nausea. Long-term users may keep unusual hours or eat erratically.