Long Term Effects of Hydrocodone on the Brain

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Opioid Abuse – Long Term Effects of Hydrocodone on the Brain

The long term effects of hydrocodone on the brain can be difficult to consider for someone going through a current addiction. But these effects should be a major concern for any person who is abusing opioids such as hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is a main ingredient in several prescription opioid pain relievers on the market. It is sold under brand names such as Norco, Lortab and Vicodin. It is most commonly prescribed to help people deal with severe and chronic pain, such as end-of-life pain and pain after surgery.

Hydrocodone is usually combined with either acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory medications. Since it is an opioid, there is a high risk of abuse due to the euphoric feelings it can produce in higher quantities.

How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Hydrocodone?

To answer the question “how long does it take to get addicted to hydrocodone?” one needs to look at how opioids work and understand that each person is different. Opioids affect the rewards centers located in the brain. They block pain while giving the person an abundance of chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin – chemicals that control feelings of pleasure. Over time, the person’s own capabilities to bring joy and pleasure into their life become dulled due to changes in the brain, and only through more abuse can the person feel euphoria.

For some people this can happen in just a few weeks, especially if the person is using larger amounts of the drug than they should or if they are more susceptible to addiction than others. In general, the point at which a person should stop taking hydrocodone is at the one month mark, although it can be sooner depending on the quantity taken and method of use.

What are The Long Term Effects of Hydrocodone on The Brain?

One of the more obvious long term effects of hydrocodone on the brain is addiction. While it may seem like a given, it is important to stress how difficult such an addiction is to deal with. It consumes many different aspects of a person’s life and can cause harm not only to the user, but to those around them.

Along with addiction are the hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms. Hydrocodone withdrawal are the symptoms that a person goes through when they give up the drug and their body tries to rid itself of the toxins and return to normal function. The symptoms are best described as the “worst flu-like symptoms” you can imagine.

Additionally, the way that the brain perceives pain can be altered and once the person stops using opioids, they can experience rebound pain sensitivity causing them to feel greater amounts of pain. Addiction also alters the way the brain is structured. With long-term abuse of hydrocodone, the person’s mood can change. They may have increased agitation and irritability. Depression can also be difficult to shake for many months after opioid abuse has stopped.

Further long term effects of hydrocodone on the brain include the person’s capacity for memory consolidation. When this system is hindered, the person is likely to experience confusion in their daily life as well as a ‘foggy’ mind.

Stress management is another concern in long-term users. Up to the point of stopping, they relied on the drug to reduce their stress. The more the drug is abused in place of stress coping skills, the worse the person’s stress management skills become – a large part of why there is relapse.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids