Hycodan Abuse

Hycodan is the brand name for a narcotic cough suppressant containing two medications, hydrocodone and homatropine.  Hydrocodone can be used for pain relief, but it is included in this medication for its antitussive properties, meaning it decreases activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing.

Homatropine is an anticholinergic drug. Its primary function in Hycodan is to work against the opiate effects of the hydrocodone in order to discourage overdose. Nevertheless, this does not prevent the medication from being habit-forming. It is important to always take Hycodan exactly as directed.

Understanding Hycodan Abuse

If you take Hycodan for a cough, and use it only as directed, you are unlikely to develop a dependence. If, however, you take higher doses of the medication than indicated, or continue to take it longer than recommended, you will become physically dependent on the medicine, resulting in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and cravings if you try to quit.

The National Institute for Drug Abuse lists the following symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal:

  • restlessness
  • muscle and bone pain
  • insomnia
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”)
  • leg movements

You may have started out taking a little too much of the medication mistakenly thinking it would be more effective, then found out that you enjoy the mild euphoria and sense of relaxation that the increased dosage creates. This may have led you to continue misusing Hycodan, and to request it from your doctor even when you no longer have a cough. Then, even when you want to quit, the withdrawal symptoms and the intense cravings make you feel unable to do so.

Signs and Symptoms of Hycodan Abuse

You may be concerned that someone you care about has developed an addiction to Hycodan; here are some possible indications:

  • needing to refill a prescription earlier than due
  • trying to hide how much or how often they take the medication
  • visiting multiple doctors or clinics for prescriptions
  • changes in appearance or hygiene
  • changes in eating habits
  • isolating themselves from friends and family
  • nervousness and restlessness
  • unusual moodiness
  • disinterest in activities and events they once enjoyed
  • difficulty living up to school, work, and home responsibilities

Dangers of Hycodan Abuse

Taking high doses of Hycodan when your lungs are already weakened by a cough can be quite dangerous, as the opiate ingredient in the medication (hydrocodone) can cause respiratory depression, leading to difficult breathing, or it could cause you to stop breathing altogether, as shown in the FDA prescribing information.

Taking high doses of Hycodan without a prescription is even more dangerous, as it is almost guaranteed to lead to physical and psychic dependence, as well as tolerance. Becoming tolerant to Hycodan will force you to increase your dosage to experience the same effects, which will only up your chances of adverse medical consequences and overdose.

Overdose on a hydrocodone/homatropine combination product may cause:

  • respiratory depression
  • extreme somnolence progressing to stupor or coma
  • skeletal muscle flaccidity
  • cold and clammy skin
  • bradycardia and hypotension (low heart rate and blood pressure)
  • apnea (inability to breathe)
  • circulatory collapse
  • cardiac arrest
  • death

Who Abuses Hycodan?

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, “regular use [of opioids]—even as prescribed by a doctor—can produce dependence, and when misused or abused… can lead to fatal overdose.” This means that anyone can potentially become addicted to Hycodan.

The homotropine in Hycodan discourages opioid dependence, making it unlikely that you will become addicted if you use it as directed for a short period of time for a cough. Still, though, homotropine does not completely prevent addiction.

Perhaps you accidentally discovered the pleasurable effects of Hycodan and began to abuse it to simply enjoy the experience. Perhaps you started abusing the medication to escape your problems, or to self-medicate anxiety or insomnia.

However your addiction began, the unfortunate result is that you need increasingly large amounts of the drug due to tolerance, which is extremely dangerous. You may have even tried to quit on your own, but gave up because of the physical and emotional suffering you experienced due to withdrawal.

Hycodan Addiction

When used appropriately, under a doctor’s instructions, Hycodan can help you recover from illness by suppressing a cough that keeps you from getting the rest you need.

But overuse and abuse of Hycodan will lead to addiction, and serious mental and physical consequences. Like most opioids, Hycodan produces euphoria, sedation, and alters the perception of painful stimuli—these positive effects can be difficult to give up. Also difficult to endure are the negative effects of withdrawing from the drug, which makes you unlikely to quit once a dependency develops.

Am I Addicted to Hycodan?

You may be uncertain if you truly are addicted to Hycodan. Now is the time to take a good, honest look at your experience with the drug. Consider the questions below:

  • Do I abuse Hycodan every day?
  • Do I abuse the drug in order to combat feelings of unhappiness, loneliness, depression, etc.?
  • Do I feel like I can’t have fun, be normal, or complete everyday tasks without Hycodan?
  • Have friends or family members mentioned more than once that they are worried about my drug use?
  • Do I become hostile or angry when they do so?
  • Am I secretive about my drug use, and/or do I lie about when I use or how much I take?
  • Do I need to take more and more Hycodan each time I abuse the drug in order to feel its effects?
  • When I try to reduce my Hycodan usage, do I experience withdrawal symptoms such as those listed above?
  • Have I experienced any recent difficulties, such as family problems, financial problems, a breakup, job loss, car accident, or getting arrested as a result of using Hycodan?
  • Despite these problems, do I feel unable to stop using on my own?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be addicted to Hycodan and in need of professional substance abuse treatment.

Hycodan Addiction Treatment

There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, seeking help for your addiction might be one of the best and bravest things you’ll ever do—not just for yourself, but for your friends, family and community.


The first step to any recovery plan is detox. Not only is it necessary to give up Hycodan in order to kick your addiction, but healing from the wounds of drug abuse requires a healthy body and a clear mind.

As you likely already know, withdrawing from Hycodan can be very unpleasant. For this reason, detoxing in a rehab center with professional medical assistance is advisable. They will likely have you taper off of Hycodan gradually, to minimize withdrawal symptoms, while monitoring your progress closely, to ensure that you detox safely, with as little discomfort as possible.


These days, there are so many therapeutic options offered by treatment programs that you are certain to find a combination tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Even so, there are some forms of therapy that will show up in nearly every recovery plan at every program, due to their proven efficacy.

The 12 Steps

The 12-step philosophies, rooted in Alcoholics Anonymous, can be applied to any form of addiction, and have helped innumerable people get sober since their inception. In addition, the fact that 12-step meetings can be found all over the country, every day, multiple times a day, means that you will always have a meeting to turn to when you need support.


Most addicts have what are called co-occurring conditions or dual disorders. This means that they have undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues that contribute to and perpetuate their addiction. You need to uncover and address these issues as a part of recovery. Counseling—be it individual, family or group—is one of the best ways to do that.

Health Care

Drug abuse can do a lot of damage to your brain and body, and that damage must be healed before you can truly overcome your addiction. Most treatment programs have ways of promoting better health habits for this reason, helping you to improve your nutrition, fitness, sleep, and stress management.