Hydrocodone: Prescription Drug Abuse & Testing
Hydrocodone or dihydrocodeinone is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from two of the naturally occurring opiates, codeine and thebaine.
Hydrocodone Prescription, Dosage & Administration:
Hydrocodone is an orally active, narcotic analgesic and antitussive. Being a narcotic analgesic, it is prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain & being a antitussive, it is prescribed as a medicine used to suppress or relieve coughing.
Hydrocodone comes both as a tablet and also in liquid form & thus can easily be taken orally. 5 mg of hydrocodone is equivalent to 30 mg of codeine when administered orally. Earlier hydrocodone and morphine were considered equipotent for pain control in humans. However, it is now considered that a dose of 15 mg of hydrocodone is equivalent to 10 mg of morphine. Hydrocodone is considered to be morphine-like in all respects and thus, final dosage is adjusted by physician according to the severity of the pain and the response of the patient.
Vicodin i.e. hydrocodone in combination with acetaminophen, is a commonly abused version of hydrocodone in United States and Canada. Vicodin, as with all narcotic analgesics, can be habit forming—causing dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms if not used as it is prescribed. The presence of acetaminophen in hydrocodone-containing products deters many drug users from taking excessive amounts.
Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse:
Some of the common side effects of Hydrocodone abuse include dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, drowsiness, euphoria, vomiting, and constipation. Some of the lesser common side effects are various allergic reactions, blood disorders, mood swings, mental fogginess, anxiety, lethargy, difficulty in urinating, ureter spasms, rashes and irregular or depressed respiration etc.
It is also not uncommon for Hydrocodone addicts to have liver problems due to excessive amounts of additional acetaminophen consumption over a long period of time.
Physical Dependence on Hydrocodone:
Opioid analgesics such as Hydrocodone may cause psychological and physical dependence. Physical dependence results in withdrawal symptoms in patients who abruptly discontinue the drug. Physical dependence usually does not occur to a clinically significant degree until after several weeks of continued opioid usage, but it may occur after as little as a week of opioid use.
Commercial Status in United States:
There are over 200 products containing hydrocodone in the U.S. When sold commercially in the US, hydrocodone is always combined with another medication due to a separate federal regulation. In its most usual forms, hydrocodone is combined with acetaminophen. Such commercial hydrocodone products which are combined with acetaminophen are known by various trademark names such as Vicodin & Lortab. Hydrocodone also can be combined with aspirin (Trade name: Lortab ASA), ibuprofen (Trade name: Vicoprofen), & certain antihistamines (Trade name: Hycomine).
Pure Hydrocodone tablets or capsules are not offered currently by any USA drug company. The cough preparation Codiclear DH is the purest available US hydrocodone item, containing guaifenesin and small amounts of ethanol as active ingredients.
With such a huge number of Hydrocodone containing products, the possibility of misuse and addiction remains substantial. As a result, Sales and production of this drug has increased significantly in recent years & so has its diversion and illicit use. To limit abuse of opioid drugs like Dilaudid it is necessary to properly assess the patient, employ proper prescription practices, periodically re-evaluate the opioid therapy, and properly dispense and store the drugs.
Hydrocodone may not cause a positive result in a standard opiate urine test. Many opiate tests only for morphine (which both codeine and heroin break down into). This is true for both home/business kits and laboratory testing. As Hydrocodone does not break down into morphine, and is therefore not detected by these tests.
However, there are several specialized home and laboratory testing kits available that specifically detects hydrocodone (& hydromorphone, its metabolic product). So test results usually depend on the particular type of test that is used and whether or not laboratory verification is done. If a home drug test is given and the opiate test shows a positive result (due to hydromorphone use), laboratory verification might not result in a positive test because the lab may only test for morphine. All such things should be kept in mind during hydrocodone testing.