Hydrocodone Guide

Learn About This Common Painkiller


Table of Contents

What is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a Schedule II, widely prescribed opioid pain reliever sold under the names Zohydro and Hysingla.1 The standard form of hydrocodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain. The extended-release forms of these opioid medications are used for around-the-clock severe pain.

Brief History

Hydrocodone was first synthesized in Germany in 1920 by Carl Mannich and Helene Löwenheim. Hydrocodone was patented in 1923 and approved in the United States in 2013.2 Hydrocodone is semisynthetic codeine or thebaine. It comes from the resin of poppy seeds.

Drug Class

Hydrocodone is a Schedule II, semisynthetic, Opioid drug.3 This means it has very little accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse.

What Other Names Does It Go By?

  • Hysingla
  • Zohydro ER (extended-release)

Hydrocodone vs. Oxycodone

Both opioids, Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, are prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe pain. They may be prescribed to treat pain associated with injuries, chronic pain, or the surgery recovery process. Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are available in extended-release forms for treatment over a week.

The most significant difference between Hydrocodone and Oxycodone is in the side effects.

Both Hydrocodone and Oxycodone have strong addictive properties. Anyone with a history of substance use disorder should avoid taking them.

Hydrocodone Uses

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Hydrocodone is used to relieve severe pain.4 This medication should only be prescribed to address around-the-clock severe pain for a long time and those who cannot be treated with other medicines or treatments.

What Does It Treat?

Hydrocodone treats pain by changing how the Central Nervous System (CNS) responds to pain signals.5

Hydrocodone Dosage

Hydrocodone dosages prescribed by Medical Professionals vary and depend on several factors.

Age, level of pain, and history of substance abuse all play a role in prescribing the right dosage for each person.

Hydrocodone acetaminophen 5-325

Hydrocodone-acetaminophen 5-325, also known as Norco 5-325, is an opioid analgesic and antitussive (cough suppressant). It is combined with a fever reducer and pain reliever and used to treat moderate to severe pain.

Hydrocodone Side Effects

All opioid medicines can affect breathing. Side effects of Opioid medication can slow down or stop air from traveling, enough for one to stop breathing altogether.

Short-Term Effects

Short-term Hydrocodone side effects include:


Long-term Hydrocodone side effects include Serotonin Syndrome symptoms, such as agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.1

Overdose and Withdrawal


As with any prescription medication, there is a risk of medication overdose in the event of misuse.6 According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, hydrocodone and oxycodone overdose occurs when too much of the medication is taken. Some people accidentally take too much medicine because they are not getting pain relief from their usual doses. There are several reasons why a person may intentionally take too much of this medicine. It may be done in an attempt to hurt themselves or to get high.

Hydrocodone Overdose Symptoms may include:


As the withdrawal of other Opioid substances, hydrocodone withdrawal is also challenging and dangerous if not done correctly. An individual’s hydrocodone withdrawal experience depends on the following factors: 

Common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include any of the following:7 

Misconceptions about Hydrocodone

Opioids, such as hydrocodone, can block the brain’s pain receptors, and the pain subsides. With this Schedule of drugs (Schedule II), there are many misconceptions.

One of the largest misconceptions about opioid drugs is that if you have a perception that you have a lower chance of developing an addiction. Most people that end up misusing opioids commonly began using them for prescribed reasons.

The most important factor in this misconception is the prescription dosage.8 Higher dosages of opioids are associated with a higher risk of overdose and death. Still, even low dosages (20-50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day) pose a danger and increase the risk of addiction and overdose.

The second-largest misconception about opioid drugs is that the larger the opioid dosage prescription, the better the pain relief.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Higher dosages haven’t been shown to reduce pain in the long term.8 One randomized trial found no difference in pain or function between a higher dose (with the average final dosage of 52 MME) and maintenance dosages (average final dosage of 40 MME).

Treating Addiction to Hydrocodone

The best treatment for hydrocodone addiction depends on the pattern of use.


Tapering is a slow-paced detoxing option. The method consists of slowly lowering your dose to give your body time to adjust. While some withdrawal symptoms may occur each time the dose is reduced, they should be relatively mild.


Medications like methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone) can help address some of the withdrawal symptoms and improve the overall quality of life.

These drugs are made with long-acting opioids that prevent withdrawal without getting causing a high.

Herbal Treatment

Naturally sourced forms of treatment are often underrated. Yet, reports of success consistently increase.

Some people in recovery from opioid use disorder have had success using kratom to treat withdrawal symptoms, but several risks are involved. Doctors are just beginning to learn how kratom works, but it is already clear that kratom is essentially another natural opioid (like opium).

When researching herbal treatment options, ensuring the product’s quality and integrity is a crucial part of the process.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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