Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Detox
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Last Updated - 6/17/2022View our editorial policy
Hydrocodone is the most commonly prescribed opioid in the United States and represents almost 11% of all opioids prescribed in Florida. Hydrocodone is an effective pain reliever, but its use is also associated with significant risks. As a Schedule II controlled substance, hydrocodone carries a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence.
People with hydrocodone dependence may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop or try to detox from the substance. Thankfully, a medical detox can make the process as safe and comfortable as possible before continuing with long-term recovery.
Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms
When you take hydrocodone regularly, your body begins to expect the drug and doesn’t function regularly without it. This is referred to as physical dependence, and most people with a hydrocodone addiction are also physically dependent. When you are physically dependent on a substance, you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop using the substance suddenly or lower its dosage. These symptoms can be highly uncomfortable and challenging to overcome without help.
Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms vary based on the person, but symptoms may be more severe for someone who has been using hydrocodone for a long time or regularly in large doses. Some common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia
- Cravings for hydrocodone
- Abdominal cramps
- Excessive tearing
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
Symptoms can be psychological as well as physical, and psychological symptoms can last longer than the physical withdrawal symptoms. For example, depression is a common hydrocodone withdrawal symptom. It can also be difficult for a person to feel pleasure as they experience opioid withdrawal due to the way these substances affect the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline
The hydrocodone withdrawal symptom timeline can vary based on whether you’re taking a short-acting hydrocodone product like Lortab or Vicodin or a long-acting product like Hysingla ER or Zohydro ER. However, there is a general withdrawal symptom timeline:
- Phase 1 (12 to 24 hours after the last dose): Symptoms begin and may vary in severity at first. For short-acting hydrocodone, this can occur within 12 hours of the most recent short-acting hydrocodone dose and can last for up to 24 hours. For long-acting hydrocodone, this can occur within the first 30 hours and can last for up to 3 days.
- Phase 2 (24 hours to 8 days after the last dose): Symptoms peak in severity as the drug leaves your system and your body has not yet adapted to its absence. This occurs within one to two days for short-acting hydrocodone products and can last up to 3 to 5 days. For long-acting products, it can occur within 3 and 8 days after the last dose and can last up to 10 days.
- Phase 3 (3 to 10 days after the last dose): Symptoms subside as your body adapts to the drug’s absence. This occurs within three to five days for short-acting hydrocodone and within 10 days for long-acting hydrocodone. However, although most symptoms resolve after this time, some psychological symptoms may linger for longer periods.
- Phase 4 (weeks to months after the last dose): Some symptoms linger. Symptoms like insomnia, depression and anxiety can last for weeks to months after quitting hydrocodone, but they will resolve with time.
How Long Does it Take for Hydrocodone to Get Out of Your System?
Hydrocodone can stay in your system for different amounts of time, depending on what is being tested. While the drug’s effects may wear off within a few hours, traces of the drug can be found in your body for much longer:
- Blood: Both hydrocodone and its breakdown product, norhydrocodone, can be found in your blood for up to 8.8 hours after the last dose.
- Urine: Hydrocodone and norhydrocodone can be found in your urine for up to three days following the last dose.
- Saliva: Hydrocodone can be found in a saliva test for up to 36 hours after the last dose.
- Hair: A 1.5-inch hair sample can show if hydrocodone was used in the previous 90 days.
Treatment for Hydrocodone Dependence
For people who are struggling with hydrocodone dependence, the fear of withdrawal can often be a deterrent to receiving treatment. The best option to manage withdrawal safely is a medical hydrocodone detox. During medical detox, patients have access to around-the-clock medical care and treatment, with supervision by professionals to ensure safety.
Patients in a medical hydrocodone detox may also be able to receive prescription medications for any physical or mental symptoms they’re experiencing, as medically appropriate. Unlike other substance classes, several opioids are FDA-approved for use during detox.
Medications for Hydrocodone Withdrawal
Several different medications for hydrocodone withdrawal may be prescribed as medically assisted treatment (MAT) if appropriate. Methadone, buprenorphine, and lofexidine can work to ease all withdrawal symptoms that you may experience by working on receptors in the brain that are otherwise involved in triggering withdrawal. This paves the way for your recovery by giving you a more comfortable detox.
- Methadone: Methadone is a long-acting opioid. It is considered the gold standard for treating withdrawal symptoms and preventing cravings while also preventing a euphoric high from opioids.
- Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine is an opioid alternative to methadone. It is often used in combination with naloxone as an abuse deterrent, so the medication cannot be diverted and injected.
- Lofexidine: This medication is FDA-approved to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms and is an alternative for those who may not be able to take methadone or buprenorphine.
How Long Does It Take to Detox from Hydrocodone?
Although recovery is a lifelong process, the detox process itself often concludes when withdrawal symptoms stop, usually within a week of the last hydrocodone dose. Medical detox can help ease you through withdrawal, but this is only the first step of recovery. Nothing but time and patience can expedite the healing process as your body recovers from hydrocodone. Data show that attending at least 90 days of rehab should give the best chance of long-term recovery.
Hydrocodone Detox Center in Orlando
The medical detox program at the Orlando Recovery Center is designed to help you overcome your hydrocodone use disorder in an environment that supports healing. Our 93-bed facility on the banks of Lake Ellenor outside downtown Orlando is fully licensed in Florida and accredited by The Joint Commission. We are staffed with experts in hydrocodone addiction treatment, including doctors, nurses, dietitians and therapists. Our detox services are integrated with rehab, so there are no gaps in care when transitioning from detox to the rest of treatment.
If you or a loved one struggles with hydrocodone, help is here. Contact the Orlando Recovery Center today and learn how we can help you quit hydrocodone.
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