Hydrocodone is the drug name for common prescription pain medications like Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab.
Like other opiates, hydrocodone use is an effective and highly useful drug, but it brings with it a high risk for addiction and abuse.
In this article, we’ll go over all you need to know about what hydrocodone is and what makes it so dangerous.
We’ll discuss what addiction to hydrocodone looks like, and what to do in the event of an overdose.
A Primer On Hydrocodone
Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic derivative of codeine — a naturally occurring opioid found in the poppy plant (Papaver somniferum).
Most pharmaceuticals companies manufacturing hydrocodone don’t use it alone. It’s most often combined with other medications like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
Once in the body, hydrocodone is converted by the liver to hydromorphone and Norhydrocodone. Hydromorphone is roughly 5 times more potent than hydrocodone itself , while norhydrocodone is considered an inactive metabolite.
Compared to other opiates, hydrocodone doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier efficiently, lowering many of its psychoactive effects such as euphoria.
Drugs That Contain Hydrocodone
|Vicodin||Hydrocodone & acetaminophen|
|Norco||Hydrocodone & acetaminophen|
|Lortab||Hydrocodone & acetaminophen|
|Vicoprofen||Hydrocodone & ibuprofen|
|Lorcet||Hydrocodone & acetaminophen|
|Maxidone||Hydrocodone & acetaminophen|
|Zydone||Hydrocodone & acetaminophen|
|Ibudone||Hydrocodone & ibuprofen|
|Reprexain||Hydrocodone & ibuprofen|
|Alor 5/500||Hydrocodone & aspirin|
|Azdone||Hydrocodone & aspirin|
|Damason-P||Hydrocodone & aspirin|
|Lortab ASA||Hydrocodone & aspirin|
|Panasal 5/500||Hydrocodone & aspirin|
|Hysingla ER||Controlled release hydrocodone|
|Zohydro ER||Controlled release hydrocodone|
What is Hydrocodone Used For?
Interestingly, hydrocodone is almost exclusively used in the United States. The International Narcotics Control Board reports that 99% of the worldwide hydrocodone supply was consumed in the United States .
Hydrocodone is used to treat mild to moderate pain. It’s prescribed by doctors for those who need relief from their symptoms around the clock.
It’s also used as a cough suppressant similar to its precursor molecule, codeine.
Hydrocodone vs. other Opiates
Hydrocodone is considered a selective agonist of the μ-opioid receptors .
How Hydrocodone Compares to Other Opioids:
- Half as potent as Oxycontin
- A tenth as potent as morphine
- Slightly stronger than codeine
Hydrocodone Side Effects
- Contraction Of The Pupils (miosis)
- Difficulty Urinating
- Dry Mouth and Throat
- Mood abnormalities
- Talley, N. J., Frankum, B., & Currow, D. (2015). Essentials of Internal Medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences.
- International Narcotics Control Board Report 2008. United Nations Pubns. 2009. p. 20.
- Zacny, J. P., & Gutierrez, S. (2009). Within-subject comparison of the psychopharmacological profiles of oral hydrocodone and oxycodone combination products in non-drug-abusing volunteers. Drug and alcohol dependence, 101(1-2), 107-114.
- Zhou, S. (2016). Cytochrome P450 2D6: structure, function, regulation and polymorphism. CRC Press.