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Mental Side Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse
Opioid abuse can affect mental health as much as physical health. When someone abuses opioids, they may appear to have changes in their mood or behavior. As their hydrocodone abuse worsens, they may have trouble making decisions and they may start abandoning their responsibilities or other interests. Changes in sleep patterns can occur, as can rapid mood changes. Someone might go from seeming euphoric to seeming depressed or irritable quickly. Motivation can decrease when someone abuses hydrocodone, and they may develop symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety.
Side Effects of Long-Term Hydrocodone Abuse
When someone abuses hydrocodone or any opioid for a long time, they are at high risk of becoming dependent on and addicted to it. Dependence can form as someone develops an opioid tolerance. The person may need higher doses of hydrocodone to achieve the effects they seek, like a euphoric high. Over time with repeated exposure, someone who abuses hydrocodone will start to need it to feel normal, meaning they are physically or mentally dependent on hydrocodone. When someone is dependent on hydrocodone and tries to stop using it suddenly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Hydrocodone withdrawal can include flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, anxiety and depression.
Addiction is separate from hydrocodone dependence. With addiction, there is a reward cycle triggered in a person’s brain. As they take hydrocodone, their brain recognizes that it is a pleasurable experience. Over time and with repeated hydrocodone use, the brain seeks out more of the pleasure-creating stimulus compulsively. Addiction can be mild, moderate or severe. Not everyone who uses hydrocodone will become addicted, but the more someone uses it, the more likely addiction is to be one of the long-term side effects of hydrocodone.
There is research looking at long-term mental effects of hydrocodone. Researchers believe there is evidence indicating long-term opioid use has an ongoing impact on how someone senses pain and deals with stress. When someone uses hydrocodone for a long time, their body’s ability to naturally fight pain may be impaired, and they may experience even more pain than they did previously. This inability to handle pain may lead them to take higher doses of opioids to cope with their lower pain threshold. In some cases, people who have mental side effects of opioid abuse see these symptoms continuing for years after they stop using the substance.
Long-Term Side Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse on the Body
Dependence and addiction are two long-term side effects of hydrocodone abuse, but there are others. Side effects of long-term hydrocodone abuse can be physical as well. Hydrocodone and other opioids can cause severe damage to the gastrointestinal system. Because hydrocodone slows down the GI tract, it causes chronic constipation. Chronic constipation increases the likelihood of complications like bleeding and rectal prolapse.
Other symptoms can include:
- When someone takes large amounts of hydrocodone regularly, it can cause damage to the respiratory system.
- Opioids cause a person to breathe in less oxygen, which can cause organ damage and damage to the lungs.
- Long-term hydrocodone use can also wreak havoc on the body’s hormone systems. It can cause problems with fertility.
- It can lower certain hormone levels which can cause complications including anxiety, depression and chronic fatigue.
Signs of a Hydrocodone Overdose
When hydrocodone causes a slowdown in breathing and the central nervous system, it can be deadly. If someone takes too much of an opioid like hydrocodone, their central nervous system may slow to the point where it’s life-threatening. Breathing and heart rate can slow, and a person may suffer brain damage, go into a coma or die. Some of the key signs of a hydrocodone overdose include:
- Slow, shallow or stopped breathing
- Respiratory arrest
- Loss of consciousness
- Extreme drowsiness
- Nodding off
- Pinpoint pupils
- Clammy skin
When someone combines hydrocodone with another opioid or another central nervous system depressant, the risks of an overdose are significantly higher. For example, combining hydrocodone with alcohol or a benzodiazepine like Xanax can make an overdose more likely to occur.
The long-term effects of hydrocodone on the body and the brain can be damaging or deadly. To get treatment for hydrocodone abuse, or to find help for someone you love, contact Orlando Recovery Center.
Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.