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Hydrocodone Detox Guide: Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

Person holding up prescription hydrocodone bottle

Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid drug used for treating severe pain and sometimes cough.1,2 It comes in several forms—some are pure hydrocodone, while others are combined with other drugs, like acetaminophen. Some well-known hydrocodone brand names include:1,2

  • Norco
  • Vicodin
  • Zohydro ER

Even though hydrocodone can be safely used as a prescription medicine, it and other opioid medicines can lead to misuse. 3 Misuse includes taking it without a prescription or in a different amount or way than your doctor told you.3 But even regular use can lead to dependence. Nonmedical use can increase this risk, as well as the risk of addiction and overdose.3 In this article, we’ll explore hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms, timeline, and how to find help.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

As mentioned, taking hydrocodone can lead to dependence.4 This means your body has gotten used to the drug and you may have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly cut back or stop using it.4 Common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:1,4

  • Feeling irritable.
  • Sleep problems (insomnia).
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Chills.
  • Goosebumps.
  • Yawning.
  • Sweating.
  • Runny nose.
  • Teary eyes.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dilated (enlarged) pupils.

Opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable. This discomfort may lead some to start using opioids again to feel better.5 If you’re having a hard time quitting opioids, you are not alone, and there is hope. Many safe and effective treatment options exist. We’ll explore some of these options below.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Withdrawal Last?

The withdrawal timeline for hydrocodone and other opioids isn’t the same for everyone. How long withdrawal lasts, which symptoms you have, and how bad they are depend on:6

  • How much and how often you take hydrocodone or other opioids.
  • How long you’ve been taking it.
  • Your overall physical and mental health.

Hydrocodone withdrawal can start as early as 8 hours after your last dose. 7 If you are taking an “extended-release” (ER) formula, withdrawal may not begin until up to 24 hours after your last dose. 9 Withdrawal symptoms tend to slowly get worse for 1 to 3 days after your last dose before slowly getting better.7 Total withdrawal time is usually 7 to 10 days. 7

How to Cope with Hydrocodone Withdrawal

In most cases, withdrawal from hydrocodone or other opioids is not life-threatening.6 But withdrawal can be intense and unpleasant.4 Medical detox can help ease the discomfort of withdrawal while keeping you as safe as possible.6 It can take place at an inpatient or outpatient setting. Your doctor can help you choose the setting that works best for your needs. In general: 6,10

  • Inpatient detox may be a good choice if you use other substances as well, have other medical or mental health issues, have tried outpatient detox before, or have limited support in your home environment. During inpatient detox, you live at the treatment center and have 24-hour support.
  • Outpatient detox programs can work well if you have no other physical or mental health issues and a good support network. Outpatient treatment can take place at community health centers, doctor’s offices, and detox treatment centers. You will go to set appointments during the day and return home at night.

Detox can help you take the first step, but lasting recovery from hydrocodone and other opioid use disorders (OUDs) usually involves further treatment. 10 This may include additional rehabilitation, behavioral therapy, and support groups.

Opioid Withdrawal Medications

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved certain medicines to manage withdrawal symptoms for OUD. Some medicines help reduce drug cravings, while others help with the physical symptoms of withdrawal, such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, insomnia, fever, and pain.6,7

Patient talking to doctor about medically supervised detox for hydrocodone

Methadone and buprenorphine reduce cravings and help ease withdrawal symptoms.4 Some people keep taking these after detox to help prevent relapse (return to drug use after a period of not using).6

Clonidine and lofexidine (Lucemyra) help ease symptoms such as chills, sweating, racing pulse, muscle tension, twitching, and stomach cramps.6,8

Can I Detox from Hydrocodone at Home?

Opioid withdrawal can be very challenging. To make withdrawal symptoms stop, some people start taking hydrocodone or other opioids again.5 This continues the cycle of addiction and can even be dangerous, as many opioid overdose deaths are in people who have recently detoxed.4

It can be helpful to speak with your doctor or other treatment professional before trying to quit opioids on your own. Quitting without detox support can lead to unnecessary discomfort at the very start of your recovery efforts.7 Treatment professionals are in a better position to assess your withdrawal risks and help you find the right treatment plan to meet your recovery goals.

Finding Hydrocodone Detox

It may not be possible to avoid all withdrawal symptoms. But fear of withdrawal does not have to keep you from getting the help you need. Supervised medical detox can help you manage withdrawal symptoms while keeping you as comfortable and safe as possible.6

Detox is an important first step in the recovery process. American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of medical detox and substance use treatment across the United States. We offer complete recovery services using evidence-based practices with trained and compassionate staff. If you’re ready to take the first step toward recovery, call our detox hotline at to speak to an Admissions Navigator. We’re standing by to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls are free and confidential.

Sources

  1. MedlinePlus. (2021). Hydrocodone.
  2. MedlinePlus. (2021). Hydrocodone combination products.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Opioids.
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). Opioid and opioid withdrawal.
  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). TIP 45: Detoxification and substance abuse treatment.
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment Services Administration. (2020). TIP 63: Medications for opioid use disorder.
  8. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018). Lofexidine.
  9. Kral, A., Jackson, K. and Uritsky, T.J. (2015). A practical guide to tapering opioidsMental Health Clinician, 5(3),102–108.
  10. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).
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