What is the Timeline for Hydrocodone Withdrawal and Treatment?

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Hydrocodone, a highly prescribed and heavily abused opioid drug, normally has a withdrawal timeline of about one to two weeks. When a person attends treatment for hydrocodone withdrawal, this timeline can vary based on the rehab facility, but in general, most patients need at least a week or two to become stabilized after experiencing the effects of hydrocodone withdrawal. It is important to understand what the stages of hydrocodone withdrawal will be and how those stages fit into your treatment timeline.

Stage One: Initial Testing and Treatment Planning

Hydrocodone withdrawal and treatment

The first stage of Hydrocodone withdrawal and treatment is testing.

Hydrocodone withdrawal will often begin somewhere between 12 and 24 hours from your last dosage. If you decide to attend detox treatment at this time, your doctor will first assess your situation in order to ensure that you will receive the most beneficial treatments. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Your doctor can often diagnose opiate withdrawal after performing a physical exam and asking questions about your medical history and drug usage.”

You will likely also be given a series of tests, including urine and blood tests, to confirm hydrocodone use and to check if there are any other drugs in your system that could affect your treatment or your health. Afterwards, you will be given a personalized treatment plan based on your needs that will allow you to heal from hydrocodone withdrawal and dependence as safely as possible. If you are addicted to the drug, this plan will also include steps toward addiction treatment, which often occurs when individuals abuse readily available drugs like hydrocodone for a long period of time and become dependent on them.

Overall, this stage should occur during the first few hours of withdrawal. You will likely be given medication and any other necessary treatments as soon as possible to help avoid complications and unnecessary pain caused by your hydrocodone dependence.

Stage Two: Early Withdrawal Symptoms and Treatment

Your early withdrawal symptoms will begin to kick in after you have been off the drug for at least a half a day or more, and you will require treatment for these symptoms. In general, the common early symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fever
  • Yawning
  • Teary eyes
  • Muscle and bone pain

The early symptoms are likely to occur around the first two days of withdrawal. Most people compare them to a bad case of the flu. It is also common to experience severe pain in the muscles, bones, and joints. These symptoms are not life-threatening, but they can be incredibly uncomfortable, so much so that attempting to go through hydrocodone withdrawal without the help of medical professionals often leads to relapse.

In detox, you will be given medication to ease your severe symptoms. In most cases, patients are given clonidine, which treats the pain and the flu-like symptoms often experienced during the early stage of withdrawal. In others, like in the case of hydrocodone abuse and addiction, it is more likely that the patient will be given methadone or buprenorphine to treat the symptoms of withdrawal. No matter what medication you are given, it should minimize your withdrawal symptoms so that you are not feeling their full effects. This will make it much easier for you to work through your withdrawal syndrome.

Stage Three: Later Symptoms and Treatment

By the second or third day, those who have been abusing hydrocodone usually begin to crave the drug. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, “Its analgesic potency is similar to morphine,” which can cause users to have extremely intense cravings if they have been abusing it. Medications like methadone and buprenorphine can help ease these cravings and make their effects less severe on the individual.

Other symptoms of withdrawal will often begin to occur by the third or fourth day as well. Loss of appetite, agitation, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, goose bumps, and a feeling of physical weakness are all likely to occur. The same medications used to treat the early stage of hydrocodone withdrawal can help with these symptoms, minimizing their severity by occupying the opioid receptors in the brain or, in the case of clonidine, treating the symptoms themselves. Clonidine, however, cannot treat the gastrointestinal symptoms the way methadone and buprenorphine can minimize them, so if you are on the former medication, your doctor will likely give you an additional medication for these symptoms.

The late stage symptoms can last for two to three days or longer, depending on the patient’s situation and the type of hydrocodone that was being taken. Extended-release hydrocodone tablets will often cause a longer withdrawal syndrome while regular hydrocodone will cause a shorter syndrome. Still, these symptoms are likely to linger into the sixth or seventh day of withdrawal at least, and it is important that you continue to receive treatment even when they are beginning to subside.

Stage Four: Withdrawal Recovery and Additional Treatment

Once your symptoms have begun to subside and you are being weaned off your medication, you can begin to consider your options for further treatment. If you were only in need of withdrawal treatment, you will likely be able to follow up your detox with several doctor’s visits, just to ensure that you are recovering well. But if you have been abusing hydrocodone, you will require further treatment.

According to the DEA, “As with most opiates, abuse of hydrocodone is associated with tolerance, dependence, and addiction.” Once you have been treated for withdrawal and dependence, you can begin rehab for your addiction to the drug, if you have been abusing it. This is necessary because merely ending your dependence on hydrocodone does not treat your addiction to the drug, and you will still be addicted to it after you leave detox. Your doctor will likely help facilitate your transition into addiction treatment as you finish detox, and this will start you on the path to recovery.

Hydrocodone withdrawal treatment has a general timeline, but it can be different for different individuals. Make sure to talk to your doctor about your personalized treatment plan and its general timeline so you are aware of what to expect.

Where Can I Go for Hydrocodone Withdrawal Treatment?

We can help you find rehab and detox centers in your area where you can receive safe, beneficial hydrocodone withdrawal treatment. Call 800-584-3274 today.


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