Hydrocodone Withdrawal Duration You Can Expect

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As the “most frequently prescribed opioid in the United States” and the medication that is “associated with more drug abuse and diversion than any other licit or illicit opioid,” hydrocodone commonly causes a withdrawal syndrome in many of its users (DEA). It is important to understand not only the symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal but also the general timeline you can expect.

Overall Withdrawal Duration

According to the DEA, symptoms associated with hydrocodone withdrawal include “restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, and vomiting.” Some symptoms will appear early on in the syndrome while others will appear much later. In general, the overall hydrocodone withdrawal syndrome lasts about a week, often a little less.

hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms

Common symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include insomnia and restlessness.

As stated by a study from the NCBI, the drug is an SAO or short-acting opioid; this means its effects come on more quickly and last for a shorter amount of time in an individual’s system when compared with long-acting opioids like extended-release oxycodone. This also causes hydrocodone to have a withdrawal syndrome characterized by somewhat more extreme symptoms but lasting a shorter amount of time than syndromes caused by other narcotics.

The full condition of hydrocodone withdrawal usually lasts somewhere around a week, although a person will not experience the same symptoms for a week straight. Certain symptoms will drop off while others intensify over this length of time.

Withdrawal Symptom Timeline

The symptoms caused by hydrocodone withdrawal are fairly similar to those caused by other opioids, although a person may feel them more or less intensely depending on several different factors. They can often be broken into three stages.

  • Stage One
    • This is the most painful and uncomfortable stage, characterized by:
      • Agitation
      • Muscle and bone pain
      • Irritability
      • Insomnia
      • Flu-like symptoms
      • Sweating
    • This stage usually lasts 2-3 days.
  • Stage Two
    • This stage requires a large amount of rest for the individual to feel well again. It includes:
      • Nausea and vomiting
      • Diarrhea
      • Abdominal cramps
      • Hot flashes
      • Chills
    • This stage usually lasts 2-3 days.
  • Stage Three
    • The third stage is not experienced by every user, but it can make the overall process much more difficult. It requires the individual to rest as withdrawal side effects may continue to linger. If the person does not allow the healing process to finish during this time, they may wind up feeling worse again.
    • This stage usually lasts 1-2 days.

Of the three stages, the second usually feels more drawn out, as many individuals experience lingering side effects of nausea and diarrhea as they feel as if they are almost over the syndrome. Overall, withdrawal from hydrocodone is a drawn-out process, but those who go through it can often gauge specific points where they experience different symptoms and stages.

According to the NLM, “The time it takes to become physically dependent varies with each individual.” However, the duration of hydrocodone withdrawal is usually similar across the board. Most individuals experience symptoms that last for a few days followed by a short period where the body still needs time to catch up completely. Except in some extenuating circumstances, you can expect your hydrocodone withdrawal syndrome to last about a week.

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