Hydrocet is a brand name for a medication containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen combined. Hydrocodone, a semi-synthetic opiate, is the most prescribed opiate pain reliever in the U.S. It is also the most abused.
Hydrocet functions by blocking pain signals in the central nervous system, and by encouraging the release of dopamine, which can create a mild sense of euphoria. These effects make the medication ideal for the relief of moderate to severe-pain, as long as patients take Hydrocet exactly as directed. Products containing hydrocodone are highly addictive when misused or abused.
Understanding Hydrocet Abuse
Although only available by prescription, Hydrocet is contains hydrocodone, which makes it one of the DEA’s common drugs of abuse. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s fact sheet on the drug, hydrocodone “is associated with more drug abuse and diversion than any other licit or illicit opioid.”
By binding to opioid receptors in the brain, hydrocodone both treats pain and leads to the release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure, among other things. In a healthy brain, dopamine is released slowly and steadily, as part of a balanced system of neurotransmitters.
When you abuse an opiate like Hydrocet by taking larger than indicated amounts, your brain releases a sudden and excessive amount of dopamine, creating a rush of intense relaxation and euphoria.
Even when taking Hydrocet as prescribed, you can potentially become addicted, although this is unlikely to happen if you take it as directed to treat legitimate pain. Most often, when patients get hooked on a prescription, it is because they take the drug in higher doses than prescribed, and/or for a longer period of time than they truly need for pain.
Signs and Symptoms of Hydrocet Abuse
Addictions to Hydrocet and other drugs containing hydrocodone are so commonplace that the FDA declared the drug a Schedule II narcotic, meaning it is highly addictive with a high potential for abuse and criminal diversion.
If someone you love is addicted to Hydrocet, they are likely to exhibit secretive behavior, and make a concerted effort to conceal their drug abuse from you. Still, though, there are some commonplace signs of addiction that you may notice. These include:
- needing to refill a prescription earlier than scheduled
- doctor shopping or visits to multiple pain clinics
- fogginess, difficulty concentrating
- changes in appearance or hygiene
- changes in eating habits and sleep patterns
- isolation from family and friends
- nervousness and restlessness
- mood swings
- lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
Dangers of Hydrocet Abuse
Abusing Hydrocet is dangerous, even deadly if you don’t get help in time. Continued abuse will make you tolerant to the drug’s effects, so that you must raise your dosage to continue to get high from it. This amplifies your risk of developing serious medical complications, and of potentially overdosing on the drug.
MedlinePlus lists a number of side effects that can be caused by using Hydrocet, some of which are dangerous warning signs and require immediate medical attention, such as:
- slowed or irregular breathing
- fast heartbeat
- severe muscle stiffness or twitching
- loss of coordination
- nausea, vomiting
- loss of appetite
- inability to get or keep an erection
- irregular menstruation
- decreased sexual desire
- chest tightness
Signs of Hydrocet overdose may include:
- narrowed or widened pupils
- slow, shallow, or stopped breathing
- slowed or stopped heartbeat
- cold, clammy, or blue skin
- excessive sleepiness
- loss of consciousness
Who Abuses Hydrocet?
There is no one “type” of person who becomes addicted to Hydrocet, and the addiction is not always obvious to people who know them. Although some addicts lose everything due to their drug use, some continue using secretly, somewhat holding things together, until medical complications, legal trouble, or a trip to the emergency room delivers devastating consequences.
Part of the difficulty with opiate addiction is how unpleasant it is to withdraw from the drug. There are the psychological aspects of addiction, where you constantly crave the good feelings and escape the drug provides, but there is also a profound physical dependency that can develop quite quickly from Hydrocet abuse.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, early symptoms of opiate withdrawal include:
- muscle aches
- increased tearing
- runny nose
Late symptoms of withdrawal include:
- abdominal cramping
- dilated pupils
- goose bumps
Hydrocet can be a godsend to anyone suffering from moderate to severe pain, and there is no need to avoid taking the drug out of fear of getting hooked. As long as you take it as prescribed, you won’t become addicted.
If, however, you have overused the drug, or taken it without a prescription, and you now find yourself unable to quit, you should know that you are not alone. Countless others have suffered and overcome this addiction before, and so can you.
Am I Addicted to Hydrocet?
Maybe you aren’t sure if you’re an addict. Take a look at the statements below and honestly consider if and how they may apply to your experience.
- I abuse Hydrocet or other opiate drugs daily.
- I take drugs as a way to escape unpleasant emotions, thoughts, memories, or problems.
- My family and friends have expressed concern about my drug use. This usually makes me hostile and defensive.
- I try to hide my drug use, or pretend I use much less than I actually do.
- I suffer withdrawal symptoms when I try to quit or reduce my drug use.
- I feel unable to face my life, socializing, or normal, everyday tasks without turning to drugs.
- I have to take much more Hydrocet now than when I began.
- I have experienced upsets in my life such as failures at work or school, relationship and family problems, getting arrested, engaging in risky behavior, getting into a car accident, or other issues due to my drug use.
- I find myself spending money I can’t afford or doing things I’m not proud of in order to obtain drugs.
- Deep down, I know I need to quit taking Hydrocet, but I feel like I can’t on my own.
Hydrocet Addiction Treatment
No one wants to live a life that revolves around addiction. But breaking the cycle isn’t easy. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that “repeated drug use changes the brain, including parts of the brain that enable you to exert self-control.”
This is why you need professional help to break the cycle of addiction. Your brain can heal, and strengthen, and you can find new ways to cope with and enjoy your life—but it will take time, effort, and assistance from trained specialists who can pass their knowledge and experience on to you.
Getting off drugs mean getting them out of your body, but when it comes to addiction to opiates such as hydrocodone, withdrawal is both physically and emotionally painful. That’s why your best option is to detox in a qualified treatment center where you can be monitored and guided by medical professionals.
A doctor may have you taper off of Hydrocet gradually, to minimize withdrawal symptoms, or they may prescribe medications such as Suboxone or Subutex to help ease the transition.
Rehab and Recovery
The variety of therapeutic options available in the field of substance abuse treatment means that recovery plans can be customized to suit your individual needs and goals.
Your treatment plan will definitely include talk therapy, so you can discover and treat any co-occurring conditions—underlying mental health issues that are contributing to your addiction problem. It may also include:
- CBT: Cognitive-behavioral therapy can teach you how to free yourself from old, negative thinking patterns and behavior, and replace them with new habits and techniques that support a sober lifestyle.
- Support Groups: Meetings based on the 12-step program are a time-tested resource for healing.
- Holistic treatment: Alternative treatments that seek to heal your body, mind and spirit are becoming increasingly popular due to their proven value. You may engage in yoga, mindfulness training, nature therapy, drum circles, and other unexpected but effective options.