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Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction

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Treatment for hydrocodone addiction, also known as opioid use disorder, includes a combination of medication and talk therapy. Medication-assisted treatment, involving medications like buprenorphine and behavioral therapy, is often considered the gold standard in treatment for hydrocodone addiction.

The intensity of treatment depends on the severity of the addiction and specific circumstances. For example, someone with co-occurring disorders or long-standing addiction will require more intensive treatment than someone who has only been abusing hydrocodone for a few months.

Which Treatment Options Are Available for Hydrocodone Addiction?

Hydrocodone is an opioid, and opioid addiction treatment typically involves some combination of medication and therapy. The level of a person’s treatment can vary significantly depending on their needs. 

While many different treatment options exist, there are a few worth highlighting. As is true with most medical decisions, always talk to a doctor before deciding which treatment path will work best for you.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

For hydrocodone addiction treatment, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is often the recommended course of treatment. This involves the use of medication like buprenorphine in combination with therapy.

The medication minimizes the likelihood of opioid withdrawal symptoms and manages opioid cravings. This enables people to focus on the work they are doing in therapy and substantially decreases the likelihood of relapse. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is what many view as the “standard” treatment path. This is where one visits a treatment facility to get care. 

The time commitment will vary depending on the treatment plan. Some people might only visit the treatment center for a few hours on one day of the week, whereas others may visit for several hours most days of the week. More intense levels of outpatient treatment are termed intensive outpatient treatment and described further below.  

When not receiving treatment, a person can usually act much as they normally would, going to work or school. MAT may be used as part of outpatient treatment programs. 

If you have a strong support system at home, outpatient treatment can work well. If you live in an unsafe environment, where drugs are often present, inpatient treatment is likely a better choice. You may also want to live in a sober living home while you participate in outpatient addiction treatment.

There are some caveats to keep in mind while in outpatient treatment (and any other type of addiction treatment). First, autonomy needs to be handled with care when recovering from addiction. Even if you’re in treatment, you should still avoid situations that increase the likelihood you will experience a relapse. 

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment programs are significantly more intense than outpatient treatment programs. With inpatient care, one stays at an addiction treatment facility for multiple weeks to receive treatment. 

While at this facility, you will work to build up the skills needed to act safely with more autonomy and eventually transition to outpatient treatment. You also may be started on medications used to treat opioid use disorder while in your inpatient treatment program. These medications can usually be continued with no or little changes once you exit the program.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Intensive outpatient treatment is a middle step between outpatient and inpatient treatment. It is often used for people exiting inpatient programs, so they don’t suddenly go from a very structured inpatient program to a fairly open-ended outpatient program. 

In an intensive outpatient program, a patient still spends a significant portion of their week in treatment and has less autonomy than in a standard outpatient program. For most patients, the goal is to help ease them back into “normal” life. These programs help to reduce the chances of a relapse in patients exiting inpatient programs.

Types of Therapy Used in Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment

There are many different approaches to therapy. While some approaches are objectively wrong or harmful, there isn’t one correct approach for hydrocodone addiction treatment. 

It’s also important to note that many therapists, including addiction specialists, blend different treatment approaches together, depending on the client’s needs and their own experience. Here are some of the therapeutic approaches used in hydrocodone addiction treatment:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered a first-line treatment for addiction, including for opioid use disorder. “First-line” means that a treatment is highly evidence-based and generally considered to have the highest chance of benefiting the average person compared to alternatives. This doesn’t mean all patients will find it helpful, but it does mean that the treatment is likely to help and unlikely to cause harm. 

CBT focuses on helping a person better understand how their thoughts and feelings affect their behavior. They then work to identify maladaptive thought patterns, which are essentially patterns of thought that cause a person harm. In the case of addiction treatment, this will generally be thought of as patterns that lead to drug abuse. 

Working with a therapist, a client then learns to change the way they think to help break the pattern. This can be either by avoiding falling into the thought pattern in the first place or, when those thoughts do occur, channeling them in healthier ways that don’t lead to drug abuse.

Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy

While technically considered a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) bears highlighting separately due to the similar but still distinct approach used during REBT when compared to the more standard CBT approach.

Broadly, the goal of REBT is to identify self-defeating thoughts and feelings as well as understand when a thought or feeling may be irrational or unproductive. Working with a professional, you work to change the type of thinking that leads to these thoughts and feelings, slowly generating healthier and more productive beliefs. 

There is a greater focus on productivity in REBT than standard CBT. The overall goal is to guide a client toward a happier and more productive life.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a style of therapy in which a group of clients are led by at least one treatment professional. The type of treatment used varies, but it often at least borrows concepts from CBT. 

Some clients find it easier to talk in groups and may benefit from being able to connect with other people in similar situations to themselves. Group therapy is also useful in situations where mental health resources are limited, as the nature of group therapy means one or a small group of professionals can help many clients at once. 

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a style of therapy where, at least regarding addiction treatment, a client dealing with hydrocodone addiction brings members of their family to treatment. Some common areas this type of therapy may focus on include helping a family better understand the nature of addiction and how to help, as well as helping a person recovering from addiction repair some of the damage their addiction may have done to important relationships in their life. 

Family therapy isn’t for everyone, as not everyone has a healthy family dynamic. However, it can be very useful for people whose family members likely want to help but may not know how. 

Family therapy is also not limited to just immediate family members. People often bring close friends and other important people in their lives to family therapy.

Life After Addiction Treatment

Hydrocodone addiction, like all addictions, is a lifelong condition. But this doesn’t mean that it will always be as challenging to live with it. Over time, your skills to manage the condition will grow stronger, and addiction can be effectively managed for life.

Cravings to abuse hydrocodone may still happen, but treatment can reduce the severity of these cravings and equip a person to avoid engaging in hydrocodone abuse even when they occur. This is the long-term goal of addiction treatment. Not “curing” addiction, as there is no cure, but equipping a person to maintain long-term drug abstinence and live a full, happy life.

When a person reaches the point where long-term hydrocodone abstinence no longer seems impossible or extremely difficult, they can often change their treatment plan in conjunction with their treatment team. They may need therapy less frequently, barring emergencies like relapse, and some people may need less or eventually no medication if they were prescribed medication-assisted treatment to help in their recovery.

What a patient should usually avoid is completely stopping all forms of treatment. The reality is that addiction is a lifelong disease. Continuing to talk to a treatment professional at least occasionally can help you better monitor and maintain good mental health. This practice allows you to decrease your risk of a relapse as well as recover more quickly if a relapse occurs.

Support Groups for People Recovering From Hydrocodone Addiction

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a free, confidential resource one can use at any stage of treatment to learn more about support groups and other treatment options available in your area that suit your needs. 

Available at 1-800-662-4357 in English and Spanish, this helpline can help you learn about recovery options specifically designed for opioid addiction, including hydrocodone addiction. It can also connect you with other resources for people who may have mental health issues that commonly co-occur with addiction, like depression. 

Other popular support groups for people dealing with opioid addiction include the following:

If you participate in a treatment program for hydrocodone addiction, the center may offer support groups of their own for those in treatment as well as alumni. They can also help you connect with local resources if you attend treatment out of your area.

Updated August 2, 2023
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  2. Different Approaches to Psychotherapy. (2009). American Psychological Association.
  3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. (June 2022). Psychology Today.
  4. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. (July 2022). Psychology Today.
  5. SAMHSA’s National Helpline. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  6. Medications for Substance Use Disorders. (April 2023). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  7. Information about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). (May 2023). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  8. Medication-Assisted Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder: Review of the Evidence and Future Directions. (March/April 2015). Harvard Review of Psychiatry.
  9. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders. (September 2011). Psychiatric Clinics of North America.
  10. Opioid Use Disorder and Treatment: Challenges and Opportunities. (November 2019). BMC Health Services Research.
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