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How to Detox Off Hydrocodone

Safely detoxing from hydrocodone requires medical supervision, often involving medication-assisted treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Gradual dose tapering is advised, with cold turkey or unsupervised home detox posing significant risks, including severe withdrawal and relapse.

Struggling with Hydrocodone Addiction? Get Help Now

To safely detox off hydrocodone, medical supervision is recommended. 

If you’ve been taking hydrocodone as prescribed for a long period of time, physical dependence can develop. Your doctor will likely recommend that you gradually lower your dosage to taper off the medication.

If you’ve been abusing hydrocodone, comprehensive addiction treatment can help you to safely detox off the drug. This often involves the use of medications, like buprenorphine, to manage withdrawal and cravings, aiding long-term recovery. 

The Need to Detox Off Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is a narcotic analgesic that is used to manage pain. It is currently the most frequently prescribed pain medication in the United States. While the drug is very effective at pain management, it has a high potential for misuse, leading to addiction.

The drug can produce a calming and euphoric effect that often triggers a cycle of abuse. Once use continues, physical dependence forms. 

Due to dependence, you should never suddenly stop taking hydrocodone on your own. Withdrawal symptoms are often intense and painful. Relapse to misuse is highly likely during this time, and fatal overdose is possible if relapse occurs.

What Are the Different Ways to Detox Off Hydrocodone?

The best approach for detox will depend on a range of individual factors. If you have a long-standing and severe addiction, your detox process may be more intense than it will be for those who have only used hydrocodone for a short period. But you can largely sidestep the discomfort of withdrawal with certain detox methods.

Here are some of the available detox approaches:

  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): This is considered the gold standard in treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), and it involves a combination of medication and therapy. Medications are used to prevent withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing people to focus on the work they are doing in therapy. Oftentimes, people with hydrocodone addiction remain on MAT for years.
  • Medical detox: While medications are usually used to manage hydrocodone detox as part of MAT, medical detox involves medical supervision throughout the withdrawal process. Depending on the severity of the addiction and any co-occurring issues, some people may need to initially be in an inpatient setting for detox. Medications may be used to address specific withdrawal symptoms, and you’ll be under continual medical care during this time.
  • At-home taper: If you have only been using hydrocodone according to your prescription, your doctor may simply recommend an at-home tapered approach to detox. Physical dependence can form even with prescribed use, and you still don’t want to suddenly stop use of hydrocodone after prolonged use. In this case, your doctor will instruct you on how to gradually lower your dose every couple days or week.

The key with any form of hydrocodone detox is to get advice from a doctor. If you have been abusing hydrocodone or any opioid, you need psychological support during detox and early recovery. Without the proper therapy and support, relapse is almost inevitable.

Medications Used in Opioid Detox

These medications are used as part of MAT for opioid use disorder:

When used in an MAT program, these medications are taken alongside therapy. In therapy, people work on the underlying issues that led to their hydrocodone misuse.

Dangers of Quitting Hydrocodone Cold Turkey

Quitting hydrocodone or any opioid cold turkey is not only very limited in its effectiveness for most people, but it can also be physically dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms and cravings can be very challenging to manage, causing most people who discontinue hydrocodone use on their own to relapse. 

Quitting cold turkey and failing to get addiction treatment will increase the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms and cause them to last longer. During this time, the risk of using hydrocodone or another potentially dangerous substance to alleviate symptoms remains high. 

Additionally, quitting cold turkey rather than going through detox or MAT allows for potentially toxic levels of hydrocodone to remain in your system longer. They can continue to cause side effects and potentially cause damage to organs. 

If you participate in an addiction treatment program, you’ll have the support to effectively stop misusing hydrocodone for good. You’ll also acquire skills that can help you to prevent relapse in the future.

Dangers of Detoxing From Home

Detoxing from home is possible with medical guidance. For example, people who start MAT often start their therapy on an outpatient basis. The key is that they aren’t simply stopping hydrocodone abuse on their own. They have medical guidance and are beginning MAT.

It is possible to engage in alternative forms of detox, though these procedures are generally not sufficient in cases of highly addictive drugs because they are not designed to quickly remove toxic levels of hydrocodone from your body. Examples include quitting cold turkey, all-juice and all-water diets, the use of antioxidants, and exercising to induce perspiration. 

Without medical supervision, each of these techniques carries risks in addition to being insufficient for quickly eliminating hydrocodone from your body. For example, exercising heavily may induce excessive respiration and cause dehydration, thus exacerbating withdrawal symptoms. The consumption of antioxidants is an effective long-term nutritional strategy for protecting cells, but it is not sufficient for detoxifying your body quickly after an overdose or addiction. Excessive fluid intake can induce hyponatremia, which can cause seizures, coma, and death in some cases. 

Oftentimes, you simply don’t have the support you need in your home environment. This makes relapse very likely. The best course of action is to seek assistance from a comprehensive addiction treatment program. In this environment, you can safely detox from hydrocodone and determine the best path forward for your recovery.

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated May 10, 2024
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