Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Girl suffering from hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can make it difficult for you to stop taking your pain medication, resulting in prescription drug addiction.

Examples of Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

you may experience some of the following withdrawal symptoms once you stop taking pain medication with hydrocodone.

Cravings with Irritability and Depression

Your body and mind become dependent on hydrocodone. The drug has changed the way your body responds to stimuli - such as pain - and without it, your body will return to its original state before you began taking it.

You will also experience psychological cravings. Taking your pain medication has become a habit, and you have grown to depend on it to relieve your discomfort. You may miss the relief you feel from it, and crave it again. These cravings will ultimately lead to irritability and depression from not being able to take the medication.

Lack of Concentration

Your preoccupation with not being able to take your medication may make it difficult for you to concentrate on tasks.

Insomnia

Anxiety and the discomfort of the physical withdrawal symptoms may make it uncomfortable for you to sleep.

Diarrhea

A common side effect of hydrocodone is constipation, so when people stop taking it, they sometimes experience the opposite symptom - diarrhea. You may also experience intense abdominal cramping. You can resolve this discomfort with an over-the-counter treatment, such as Imodium.

Muscle Aches

As your body recovers from dependence on the drug, your muscles may ache. Many people return to taking their pain medication to relieve this discomfort; however, you can take Tylenol or another non-addictive over-the-counter pain reliever.

Sweating, Nausea or Vomiting, Fever and Runny Nose

Some people experience flu or cold-like symptoms after stopping hydrocodone. These symptoms are your body's reaction not having the drug it's accustomed to receiving. You can treat these symptoms as you would a cold to help you get through it.

Heart Palpitations and Difficulty Breathing

You may feel like your heart is beating outside of your chest or that you can't catch your breath. While these are common withdrawal symptoms of hydrocodone, pay attention to the severity of them because you don't want your belief that you are going through normal withdrawal to mask a serious medical condition.

Onset and Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms begin approximately two to three days after you stop taking your medication. The specific symptoms you experience and their severity depend on how long you took the medication and how high of a dosage you were taking.

Withdrawal Symptoms and Hydrocodone Addiction

Doctors prescribe pain medication with hydrocodone such as Vicodin or Lortab to help individuals who have recently undergone surgery or sustained an injury. Individuals become addicted to hydrocodone because they develop a tolerance to the prescribed amount. Drug tolerance means that after you take a dosage for a while you may not feel the same effects from it as you did when you first began taking it, and you'll have to take a higher dosage to achieve the same effects. As you take higher dosages, your withdrawal symptoms may become more severe, making it more difficult to quit.


As with any drug addiction, getting through the withdrawal symptoms is one of the biggest challenges in quitting. Some people find that having support through the most difficult symptoms is the only way they can finally succeed in drug addiction recovery. Contact a friend, family member or an addiction treatment organization if you need assistance.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms