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Medically Reviewed

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, and Detox Treatment

- 10 sections

Medically Reviewed: January 13, 2023

Medical Reviewer

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA

medically-verified

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Hydrocodone is an opioid medication that is prescribed to treat severe symptoms of pain, typically to individuals who will not experience relief from other forms of treatment. It is often sold under the band names Vicodin, Lortab, or Lorcet.[1] While hydrocodone is an effective pain reliever, it is habit-forming and highly addictive when used long-term.

It can be extremely difficult to stop taking hydrocodone because of the withdrawal symptoms that appear after long-term use. In fact, many people continue taking the drug just to avoid going into withdrawal. If you or a loved one suffer from a hydrocodone addiction, being aware of the withdrawal timeline, symptoms, and how it’s treated can motivate you to get the help you need.

Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal

When you are addicted to hydrocodone, your brain and body grow accustomed to the presence of the substance and you experience symptoms of withdrawal when you suddenly stop taking the drug. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and painful, making it vital that you receive assistance from a medical detox program.

The common symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include:[2]

  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Teary eyes
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive yawning
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Cravings for hydrocodone
  • Depression
  • Stomach cramping
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills

How Long Does Hydrocodone Withdrawal Last?

It is completely normal to want to know how long withdrawal will last before deciding to enter detox. While there is a general timeline, the exact number of days withdrawal will last depends on a variety of personal factors.

Some of the factors that affect how long the hydrocodone withdrawal timeline include:

  • The dosage of hydrocodone you were using
  • How often you were taking the substance
  • How long you were addicted to hydrocodone
  • Age, genetics, and medical history
  • Whether you were abusing any other substances
  • Your metabolism

Most people begin experiencing symptoms 6-12 hours after their last dose and feel better after 5-6 days.

If you are worried about experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you should know that opioid detox centers can prescribe medications and treatments to ensure that you are safe and comfortable. Attempting to detox at home will only put you at an increased risk of relapse and overdose due to painful withdrawal symptoms triggering your cravings for hydrocodone.

Understanding the Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline

While the exact timeline of hydrocodone withdrawal varies from one person to the next, most people follow a general timeline:

6-12 Hours After Your Last Dose

Typically, you will begin to experience symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal within the first 6 to 12 hours after your last dose. While the initial symptoms are usually mild, you may experience body aches, nausea, stomach cramps, and excessive sweating.

3-5 Days After Your Last Dose

Between days 3 and 5, your symptoms will peak in intensity. This means the symptoms you experience will be at their worst. Common symptoms during this stage of hydrocodone withdrawal include diarrhea, shaking, vomiting, body aches, and other flu-like symptoms.

6+ Days After Your Last Dose

By day 6, you should begin feeling some relief from your symptoms. However, it is very common to experience psychological symptoms like depression, mood swings, and intense cravings for hydrocodone.

Post-Acute Withdrawal

Usually, hydrocodone withdrawal subsides one week after your last dosage of the drug. Some individuals experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), a condition where the psychological symptoms of withdrawal continue to affect you past the normal timeline. PAWS is most common in chronic opioid users. Symptoms include agitation, depression, anxiety, dysphoria, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and more. These symptoms may fluctuate, getting better and worse unpredictably. PAWS can last for several weeks or months but can be treated with lifestyle changes.

How Do Opioid Detox Centers Treat Hydrocodone Withdrawal?

Attending a medical detox program will ensure that you are comfortable and safe throughout the entire process. Drug and alcohol detox centers provide 24/7 medical monitoring, psychiatric support, and medications to soothe your symptoms.

Detox centers may use medications like methadone or buprenorphine to limit symptoms of withdrawal and prevent cravings. These medications trick the brain into thinking it’s received the substance it is craving by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and activating them.

You will be slowly tapered off of the medication until your withdrawal symptoms are no longer present. In addition to medication, nurses will monitor your vitals and you will have access to therapy and group counseling, as well as treatment for any co-occurring medical or psychiatric conditions.

Coping With Hydrocodone Withdrawal

While the best way to cope with hydrocodone withdrawal is to detox under medical supervision, there are some things you can do during treatment to lessen your symptoms even further, such as:

  • Eating a balanced, nutritious diet
  • Sticking to a sleep routine that works for your body
  • Using self-soothing techniques to deal with stress and anxiety
  • Engaging in activities that you find fun or fulfilling, like reading, drawing, or exercising
  • Connecting with your peers in the facility to create healthy friendships that can provide you with support and accountability
  • Engaging in meditation, yoga, or mindfulness techniques that help you stay in the present moment

Find Help for Hydrocodone Abuse and Addiction Today

If you or a loved one suffers from a hydrocodone addiction, recovery is possible. Charlotte Detox Center bridges the gap between the luxury and comfort of your home with the safety and medical supervision of a hospital. Our exclusive, private facility in Charlotte, North Carolina is an ideal place to begin your journey of recovery.

Our highly trained medical and clinical staff are able to manage your physical symptoms and discomfort while providing you with encouragement and emotional support. We assure our client’s comfort and safety by providing medications like Suboxone, Librium, and Serax which alleviate symptoms and reduce complications associated with detoxing.

Detoxing in an environment that is beautiful, comfortable, and private, plus managing all your most severe symptoms, means you’ll have no distractions from your goal of achieving sobriety and beginning long-term recovery. Get started today by calling and speaking with one of our dedicated admissions counselors.

References:

  1. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/hydrocodone.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526012/

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