Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid medication for severe pain. In high doses, hydrocodone can cause severe side effects like addiction, accidental overdose, coma, or death.
What is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is a narcotic medication for the treatment of severe pain. It is a type of painkiller called an opiate that controls pain by changing the way the body responds to pain signals. Hydrocodone is also sold in combination with acetaminophen in a prescription painkiller called Vicodin®.
What is the Problem?
Anyone who uses hydrocodone for more than a few days will develop a tolerance, in which their body requires a higher dose to experience the same painkilling effects. Unfortunately, hydrocodone is highly addictive and dangerous in high doses. Taking too much can lead to severe side effects, including a deadly accidental overdose.
Hydrocodone slows down the central nervous system in the brain. An overdose of hydrocodone can cause a person to stop breathing, lose consciousness, go into a coma, and suffer death. The risk of a deadly overdose increases when a user takes alcohol or certain medications.
How Does Hydrocodone Work?
Hydrocodone works by attaching itself to opioid receptors in the brain and the body. This relieves severe pain by interrupting pain signals and causing feelings of pleasure, well-being, or euphoria. When the body eventually becomes physically dependent on hydrocodone, a user will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they stop.
Symptoms of a Hydrocodone Overdose
- Slow, shallow breathing or stopped breathing
- Smaller pupils (black circles in the middle of the eyes)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Decreased urge to breathe
Hydrocodone is highly addictive. Anyone can become addicted to hydrocodone if they take it continuously and increase the dose. The withdrawal symptoms and cravings to take more hydrocodone can make it impossible to quit without professional help. Addiction also increases the risk of suffering an accidental overdose, coma, or death.