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Hydrocodone Detox Centers

Medically Reviewed By: Benjamin Caleb Williams RN, BA, CEN

Written By: Gary Bowers

Article Updated: 01/24/2021

For all the dangers and widespread abuse, recovery from hydrocodone addiction or dependency is always possible! Hydrocodone detox centers are an important part of the recovery process. Providing the right medical care during detox is only a piece of the puzzle; hydrocodone detox centers will also provide access to continuing addiction treatments and therapies which can improve the outcome and outlook following successful detox. The journey begins here.

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When is a Hydrocodone Detox Center Recommended?

It’s never too late to seek help for addiction to hydrocodone. Hydrocodone-containing prescriptions are the most commonly prescribed opioid drugs in America and are a significant contributor to the growing number of drug overdose deaths. The euphoric effects caused by hydrocodone make it extremely susceptible to abuse. Hydrocodone also works less effectively when used over long periods of time as tolerance develops which means more of the drug is required to produce the original effect. All of these factors converge to create an environment where quitting the drug can be difficult and dangerous.

Professional support would be recommended in most cases of hydrocodone abuse. Hydrocodone is a powerful drug, and the threat of relapse is very real. Additionally, prolonged use of hydrocodone can result in dysfunction in the cardiovascular, endocrine, renal, and gastrointestinal systems. Hydrocodone detox centers have the capability to address the many facets of hydrocodone abuse which can dramatically improve the chances of complete recovery.

Specifically, hydrocodone detox centers would be recommended in the following scenarios:

Prior History of Relapse

The physical symptoms of hydrocodone detox (withdrawal) can last for up to 10 days. During this time, the risk of relapse is very high without medical intervention. Many people who attempt to quit hydrocodone will often continue using it to simply avoid the pain of withdrawal. By treating hydrocodone detox appropriately, both medically and psychologically, the risk of relapse is reduced.

Co-Occurring Health Issues

In addition to playing a role in preventing relapse, hydrocodone detox centers would be recommended for anyone with pre-existing conditions or other health concerns. Though very rare, withdrawal from opioids like hydrocodone can be deadly, and the overall health of a person can increase these risks.

Pre-existing physical health conditions that could complicate the detox process would include:

  • Heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney conditions
  • Liver conditions

It’s common for people going through hydrocodone detox to experience severe psychological distress as well. Some of this distress can be attributed to the brain repairing the damage done through prolonged drug exposure. Hydrocodone use alters brain chemistry, and that includes the ability to regulate pain and experience pleasure. Other mental health symptoms may be purely psychological; fear of quitting, mental obsession, the sudden lack of hydrocodone as a coping mechanism, or other negative reasoning can result in relapse. Hydrocone detox centers will have both the medical and psychiatric staff on hand to treat all aspects of detox.

Mental health concerns that would typically require the care of professional staff would include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood Disorder (including Bi-Polar Disorder)

The risks of NOT seeking the help of a professional detox center is high. By increasing safety, and decreasing the pain and discomfort of detox, the professionals at a hydrocodone detox center can help by establishing a firm footing upon which lasting recovery can be built.

The Intake Process

The main goals of the intake process are to gather information on the patient, stabilize their condition, and initiate treatment as soon as possible. Let’s take a look at each of these goals in more detail:

  • Assessment: This would include the required paperwork but isn’t confined to filling out forms. The fact-finding process would include gathering vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate. Vital signs will help the staff pinpoint any impending dangers. Symptoms like sweating, runny nose, and yawning may be present by this time, and any visual signs of withdrawal will be noted. Staff may also take a blood test for toxicology or perform other tests as needed to assess the overall health of a person entering the facility.

Staff will also conduct an interview to assess the extent of drug use. This includes information on hydrocodone use, as well as other drugs. This would be to determine the possibility of other drug interactions but to anticipate withdrawal symptoms. Addictions to other drugs can complicate the detoxification process. This information allows the staff to create a personalized plan for treating all aspects of the disease.

  • Stabilize: Withdrawal from hydrocodone can cause a wide range of symptoms, with some occurring at different stages of the detoxification process. During this initial phase, staff will work to provide hydration and nutrition and ensure that any immediate issues are addressed. Staff may also begin educating the patient on what to expect and provide an introduction to therapy.
  • Initiate Treatment: Once the patient has been stabilized, the staff will begin treatment. The exact steps taken at this phase will vary from individual to individual. Withdrawal symptoms of hydrocodone will typically reach their maximum intensity within 72 hours of the last dose. Based on this timeline some will enter the facility experiencing very few symptoms, and some may in the midst of the worst of the withdrawal. The detox center staff will be able to address the most urgent issues while preparing for the treatment of symptoms yet to come.

Medical Monitoring of Hydrocodone Detox

Withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone detox are unavoidable, but they are treatable. Although hydrocodone detox isn’t typically fatal or dangerous, medical monitoring will be critical to ensure that all symptoms are treated and the risk of worsening symptoms is mitigated. Besides maintaining safety, proper management of the detoxification process plays an important role in preventing relapse.

Medical monitoring by the staff at a professional detox would focus on recognizing both physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal, and implementing or re-evaluating treatment as necessary. The most dangerous symptoms will be monitored closely. Those symptoms are:

  • Vomiting & Diarrhea: These symptoms may not seem dangerous, but if untreated, they can lead to dehydration which can be fatal.
  • Hypertension & Tachycardia: Elevated blood pressure and heart rate can complicate underlying heart health issues.

Other physical symptoms that would be monitored and treated would include:

  • Muscle/Joint Aches and Pains
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Insomnia
  • Cold and Flu-like Symptoms: Including runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, lethargy, hot flashes, and cold chills.

Hydrocodone detox center staff will also monitor all aspects of one’s mental health. Common psychological symptoms of hydrocodone detox include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Hydrocodone detox can be treated safely and effectively. With medical monitoring and intervention, these symptoms can be addressed before they become problematic or dangerous. In most cases, the physical symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal will subside within 7-10 days.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline

Medications Used By Hydrocodone Detox Centers

Medical therapy is a common form of treatment for hydrocodone withdrawal. The exact medications prescribed can depend on the person and the severity of their symptoms. Here are some of the more frequently-prescribed medications and their uses:

  • Medications for Opiate Use Disorder: Depending on the extent of hydrocodone abuse, there are FDA-approved medications, such as Lucemyra, for managing opiate withdrawal that could be prescribed. Buprenorphine and methadone are both used to treat opiate use disorder. They work by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain but do not produce the intense euphoria or ‘high’ frequently associated with opioid use. These medications would be part of a long-term treatment plan, and would likely only be prescribed in the most severe cases.
  • Blood Pressure Medications: While most commonly used to reduce symptoms of anxiety during withdrawal, elevated blood pressure is a common symptom, with potentially dangerous implications, but it can be treated safely. Clonidine is widely used to treat blood pressure, and in addition to the cardiovascular benefits, clonidine may also help with anxiety symptoms.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants may be prescribed to help regulate fluctuating brain chemistry. The most commonly prescribed antidepressants work by increasing the serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is often referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Our bodies produce this compound naturally, but prolonged hydrocodone use can diminish serotonin’s natural effectiveness.
  • Anti-Anxiety Medications: Anxiety is a very common symptom of hydrocodone withdrawal. There is a wide range of medications that can be used to address anxiety. Some medications like hydroxyzine and buspirone may be taken on an as-needed basis to treat acute anxiety symptoms. Other medications, mainly varieties of antidepressants, can be used to correct chemical imbalances in the brain that lead to anxiety.
  • Sleep Aid Medications: Quality sleep is an often overlooked component of overall health, and unfortunately insomnia will be a prevalent symptom of hydrocodone detox. The medications used for treating insomnia could range from mild antihistamines to FDA-approved sleep aids like Ambien or Lunesta.

Therapy During Hydrocodone Detox

Hydrocodone Detox Centers will provide access to therapy in a variety of forms. Non-medical therapy, also known as “Talk Therapy”, is an essential element of recovery. Talk therapy can address the needs of someone during detox when emotions are high, and lifestyle changes can sometimes unfold quickly. Talk therapy can also continue to provide lasting benefits well into the future. Talk therapy is of extra value because it’s benefits are frequently experienced by those who aren’t directly receiving therapy.

Here are some common forms of therapy offered during detox:

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a valuable tool in breaking down the barriers that can often be present in addiction. Group therapy will be lead by a professional therapist. Group therapy may be more or less structured depending on the topic, but will always provide a break from the isolation, and offer a chance to rebuild social skills. It’s quite common for those who have abused hydrocodone to face stigma and a lack of understanding around addiction, and group therapy can play a major role in addressing those issues.

Family Therapy

The stress of addiction can ravage families, and while the family dynamic may change from person to person, most people who enter a hydrocodone detox center will have family on “the outside”. Family therapy offers a chance to work through the many issues that hydrocodone abuse can cause. Whether it’s focused on reducing stressors in relationships that could lead to drug-seeking behavior, or repairing relationships that have been marred by drug abuse, family therapy is a tool that can help address many factors relating to addiction.

Relapse Prevention Techniques

Hydrocodone can continue to maintain a powerful mental grip on people, even well after the drug has been removed from the system. There is also a long list of external factors that can lead to relapse. Relapse prevention therapy will seek to educate around the topics that can help prevent relapses such as risk reduction, self-regulation, support groups, and lifestyle changes.

Continuing Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment

Complete detoxification from hydrocodone is just the beginning. Ongoing treatment in a residential treatment center is often recommended. Residential hydrocodone treatment centers offer 24/7 care in a structured, ‘recovery community’ setting that will feature a variety of intensive therapies designed to treat addiction and the underlying causes of addiction.

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