What to Expect During Hydrocodone Withdrawal

hydrocodone withdrawal

What to Expect During Hydrocodone Withdrawal

Knowing what to expect can help you detox and move forward with your life.

Prescription drugs like hydrocodone can be beneficial, but they can also cause a lot of harm, sometimes producing physical dependence and addiction. If you’re addicted to a prescription hydrocodone product, it’s not too late to get help and get sober. The detox and withdrawal process can seem daunting for many people, but knowing what to expect can help you get through it and move forward with your life.

What Is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid medication that doctors use to relieve moderate to severe pain. It’s an ingredient in several drugs including Norco, Lortab, and Vicodin, and it works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain.1 When you take hydrocodone as prescribed by a doctor, it can provide much-needed relief. However, if you misuse it by taking higher doses, more frequent doses, or mixing it with other drugs and alcohol, you could suffer serious side effects. You might also become physically dependent or addicted to hydrocodone.

Related post: What Are the Strongest Opioids?

Am I Addicted to Hydrocodone?

Chronic misuse of hydrocodone can lead to a substance use disorder and hydrocodone addiction. However, it’s not always easy to recognize addiction once it occurs. Medical professionals and psychiatrists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) to identify the 11 criteria that indicate a person may have an opioid use disorder.2 According to those criteria, here are some common signs of hydrocodone addiction:

  • Taking more hydrocodone than planned or taking it longer than necessary.
  • Wanting to stop using hydrocodone but being unable to cut back.
  • Spending a substantial amount of time getting hydrocodone and using it.
  • Having strong urges or cravings to use hydrocodone.
  • Being unable to fulfill responsibilities because of hydrocodone use.
  • Continuing to misuse hydrocodone even though it’s causing social or relationship problems.
  • Prioritizing hydrocodone misuse over other important aspects of life, like work, family, and social activities.
  • Continuing to misuse hydrocodone even after getting into dangerous situations following the misuse.
  • Continuing to misuse hydrocodone even when it is causing or exacerbating physical or psychological issues.
  • Needing more hydrocodone to achieve the desired effects. (This is known as building a tolerance.)
  • Experiencing hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms when trying to cut back or stop using it.

If you have experienced two or more of the above symptoms within the same year, you are likely addicted to hydrocodone, and you may need professional treatment to recover. Typically, the first step to overcoming hydrocodone addiction is detox.

If you’re concerned that a friend or loved one is misusing hydrocodone products, there are also a few behavioral signs you should watch for, including:3

  • Problems at school or work
  • Physical health issues
  • Neglected appearance/hygiene
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Money problems

What Are Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms?

If you abuse hydrocodone regularly, over time, you’ll develop a physical dependence. A hallmark sign of physical dependence is tolerance, which means you need more of the drug to feel the desired effects.

Another common sign of physical dependence is withdrawal. If you’re accustomed to misusing hydrocodone but suddenly try to stop using it or cut back, you’ll experience uncomfortable physical and psychological side effects. These side effects are known as withdrawal symptoms.

Common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:4

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia 
  • Depression 
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Yawning
  • Excessive sweating
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps 
  • Strong cravings
  • Fatigue 

Every person experiences hydrocodone withdrawal differently. However, it can be very uncomfortable. As a result, most addiction treatment experts recommend completing medical detox for opioid addiction. In doing so, you’re more likely to have relief from uncomfortable or painful side effects, and you’re much less likely to relapse in the process of getting sober.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Withdrawal Last?

In most cases, hydrocodone withdrawal will last about five to seven days, but everyone is different. Many factors affect the duration and severity of hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms, including how long you’ve been taking hydrocodone, how much you typically take, how frequently you take it, and whether you use other drugs or alcohol. Regardless, without any medical or therapeutic treatment, withdrawal symptoms are typically more severe and last longer.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline

6-12 hours after the last doseEarly withdrawal symptoms may begin to appear, such as anxiety, watery eyes, runny nose, muscle aches, and insomnia.
72 hours after the last doseGenerally, around this time, hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms peak. They may include more severe symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and excessive sweating.
7 days to 1 month after the last doseHydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can sometimes last for several weeks. Cravings and psychological side effects are likely to last for a month or longer without professional treatment.

How Hydrocodone Detox Can Help

A hydrocodone detox program is designed to help you get through withdrawal safely and comfortably. It can also reduce your likelihood of relapsing. In most cases, detox is the first step to treating your hydrocodone addiction.

Upon arriving at a detox center, treatment specialists will assess your current condition and design an individualized hydrocodone detox treatment plan for you. At Briarwood, our staff uses evidence-based treatment methods and provides 24/7 monitoring to ensure that you are safe and comfortable at all times. As your physical and psychological condition changes during treatment, we adjust our program protocol to ensure that you’re getting the best care possible.

At Briarwood Detox Center, we also offer group and individual counseling sessions, music and art activities to enhance your healing process, and H&I meetings to introduce you to the 12-Step Program. After detox, our staff will also provide individualized recommendations for ongoing addiction treatment  so you can have the best opportunity to achieve long-lasting sobriety.

Related post: How to Help Someone With a Morphine Addiction

Get Help for Hydrocodone Addiction

If you’re addicted to hydrocodone, the caring professionals at Briarwood Detox Center can help. We work with individuals from all walks of life, and with intervention assistance and relationships with a broad network of insurance providers, we can help you get the treatment you need to recover. Please call (512) 262-4426 or contact us online to learn more.


  1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a614045.html 
  2. https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm 
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112 
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm 

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