You have probably heard that the U.S. is in an opioid epidemic, but you might not realize what that means, who it affects and what factors are involved. You may have even taken a prescription medication containing hydrocodone on your doctor’s orders without realizing it was an opioid, only to experience withdrawal symptoms after your final dose. Learn more about this category of drugs and what qualities can make them risky.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs derived from the opium poppy. They work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, blocking pain signals and creating a relaxed, euphoric feeling. For many users, this high is so desirable that it rapidly becomes nearly irresistible.
While opioid painkillers such as Vicodin have helped restore quality of life for many chronic pain patients and people recovering from surgery, the dark side of these medications is their high potential for abuse and overdose.
Widespread availability of opioids in the U.S. spiked in the 1990s, when pharmaceutical companies downplayed these drugs’ many dangers and encouraged doctors to prescribe them in large quantities. The CDC has labeled this period the first wave of the opioid epidemic, with the second and third waves characterized by people turning to illicit opioids such as heroin and fentanyl when they could no longer get a legitimate prescription.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Hydrocodone is the primary active component of several well-known drugs. When you take hydrocodone or a medication containing it, it floods your brain with a neurotransmitter called dopamine. With prolonged use, your natural dopamine production will decrease, and you will need increasingly higher drug doses to feel “normal.”
Taking larger amounts of hydrocodone will cause you to progress further into physical dependence, potentially leading to the following symptoms when you try to quit using opioid drugs:
- Flu-like body aches
- Runny nose
- Mood swings
- Drug cravings
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
For many people, hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant enough to cause a return to drug use, despite a genuine motivation to quit. In some cases, they can even be dangerous. That’s why medically managed opioid detoxification is the safest, best way to rid your body and mind of drugs. At Pillars Recovery, detoxification takes place in a clinical setting, where health professionals will monitor your condition 24/7.
In our medication-assisted treatment program, FDA-approved medications such as buprenorphine and naltrexone are available to help ease your cravings and manage severe hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms. These medications will allow you to taper off opioids gradually, without experiencing the acute discomfort that can feel so draining in the earliest stages of opioid addiction recovery. Pillars Recovery clients who participate in MAT can begin focusing on the next stage of substance use therapy sooner, with more enthusiasm.
Southern California Substance Abuse Treatment
Medical detoxification – immediately followed by residential treatment, partial hospitalization or participation in an intensive outpatient program – has helped many people break free of a drug or alcohol addiction once and for all. At Pillars Recovery, we have designed our programming for young men and women who struggle to lead healthy, fulfilling lives because a substance use disorder is holding them back. We have been in your position, and now we want to share the joys of lifelong sobriety with you. Contact us today to learn more about making a fresh start at our beautiful Orange County rehab facilities.