Hydrocodone: uses in therapy, characteristics and side effects

Many substances can be classified as drugs or drugs, depending on their use, potential for addiction, effects and other characteristics. Although the essential difference between the two is that a drug has therapeutic use, and not a drug.

In this article we will know about hydrocodone, A semi-synthetic opiate. We will talk about the differences between opium and opium, compare hydrocodone with other substances and see the uses and effects of this type of opium, in addition to its side effects.

    Hydrocodone: drug or drug?

    What we mentioned about the difference between a drug and a drug is what happens with hydrocodone, a semi-synthetic opiate made from an opium-based substance called codeine. Opium, as we will see later, encompasses substances that come from a plant called rubble.

    Thus, hydrocodone can be used as a medicine and as a medicine. this substance produces analgesic and pleasant effects, And can be used to treat pain, or as a recreational use, with significant addictive potential.

      Origin of the substance

      Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic (artificial) opiate, synthesized in the laboratory. In other words, it is not natural, it is not obtained directly from opium, but is synthesized.

      It is made in laboratory settings from codeine; Codeine, also known as methylmorphine, is an alkaloid (a type of substance) found in opium (opium encompasses a number of substances that are taken from a plant, and we will know that throughout this article).

      Hydrocodone was first used in the United States in 1943. However, sor the use is controlled and restricted, as it is a substance with a very high potential for abuse. This is thanks to its inclusion in the law on controlled substances, 5 years ago, in 2014.

      Its addictive potential is high, which is why its use should be well controlled and if taken, taken with great caution. It is for all this that hydrocodone it is only available on prescription. However, despite being a highly addictive drug and with side effects that can be fatal, this substance is increasingly used in the United States.


      As we have seen, hydrocodone is synthesized in the lab from a natural opioid that we get from the inshell plant (from its seeds). Its main therapeutic indication is the treatment of pain. In addition, it is interesting to note that hydrocodone can also be used for cough.

      Chemically, it is derived from codeine, an alkaloid substance found in opium. As for its format and routes of administration, hydrocodone can be found in different formats: in tablets, capsules or syrup. Thus, it is always administered orally.

      Comparison with other substances

      If we compare it to morphineThe ultimate pain reliever opioid, we find that hydrocodone is a little less potent when it comes to pain reduction (although the difference is minimal).

      In contrast, when compared to codeine, the substance from which hydrocodone is synthesized, we see how hydrocodone is slightly more potent than that, and this is shown by some studies.

        Effects on the body

        But … what effects does hydrocodone produce, besides reducing or eliminating pain? It also generates a pleasant effect, such as “happiness”. a pleasant sensation that can even reach euphoria, a feeling of tranquility, Etc. All of this causes it to become an addictive substance and a drug, as people tend to become addicted to pleasure.

        In addition, hydrocodone also has some of the effects of heroin, another semi-synthetic opiate which is also one of the most addictive drugs.

        Finally, and as we have mentioned, it also produces a cough relief effect which is also given in codeine.

        Side effects

        As we have seen, hydrocodone is a substance that can be used as a medicine to reduce pain, but also as a drug, and when its use becomes abusive and addictive, it ends up being harmful to the person. It is therefore a substance that can be potentially dangerous, as we will see below.

        Like any medicine and like any medicine, hydrocodone can cause some side effects. These are usually nausea and vomiting, constipation, fatigue, and euphoric symptoms. In severe cases, breathing difficulties may occur.

        Combination with other substances

        Side effects of hydrocodone they can be even more serious if their use is combined with other substances, drugs or drugs. So, if we combine hydrocodone with other drugs like alcohol, barbiturates, cocaine or amphetamines, it can cause significant heart, lung and kidney failure.

        On the other hand, it can also cause heart attacks, amnesic symptoms, coma or even death.

        What is opium?

        As we have seen, hydrocodone comes from codeine, which in turn is part of opium. Opium includes opioids obtained from rye or poppy, A plant; its scientific name is Papaver somniferum. More precisely, the substances are obtained from their seeds.

        The effects produced by opium are basically of three types: analgesic effects (reducing pain), pleasant effects (or a feeling of peace and quiet) and euphoric effects.

        What is opium used for? From its compounds can be created drugs, used especially in treatments that cause pain like cancer treatments. It is also used to create addictive drugs, such as heroin.

        Differences between opium and opiate

        We have seen how opium is a natural substance derived from the seeds of a plant, which also has analgesic properties. Opiates, such as hydrocodone, on the other hand, are psychoactive substances derived from opium. They have opium-like effects, producing a state of happiness, calm and reducing the pain of the person.

        Opiates can be of two types: Endogenous (those synthesized by the organism itself naturally, through the central nervous system [SNC]) Or exogenous. Exogenous opiates attempt to mimic the effect of endogenous opiates and are divided into three subtypes (where we will find hydrocodone): natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic.

        1. Natural exogenous opiates

        Exogenous natural opiates are extracted directly from opium (bark or poppy). In this group we find morphine, widely known, as well as codeine and thebaine.

        Chemically, these are the alkaloids (a type of substance) in opium.

        2. Exogenous semi-synthetic opiates

        Semi-synthetic exogenous opiates, also called artificial opiates, are synthesized in the laboratory. Hydrocodone is part of this group, A semi-synthetic opiate. But how are they made? Of the above opiates, natural opiates and which we extract directly from the opium factory.

        Specifically, hydrocodone is synthesized from codeine, an alkaloid substance found in opium.

        Another well-known semi-synthetic opiate used as a psychoactive drug is heroin, which is synthesized from morphine.

        Finally, we found a third artificial opiate: oxycodone, based on thebaine (another opium alkaloid).

        3. Exogenous synthetic opiates

        finally exogenous synthetic opiates are more artificial than the previous ones, And intended to mimic its effect. The difference with semi-synthetic opiates such as hydrocodone is that its structure has nothing to do with opium alkaloids, unlike semi-synthetic ones. Examples of synthetic opiates are methadone and pethidine.

        Methadone, on the other hand, is widely known to be used as a drug in opioid detoxification processes (as maintenance therapy). Generally speaking, it simulates the effect of the drug without causing the damage it causes.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Daza, J. and Ruiz, O. (2011). Use of opioids in the treatment of pain. Biosciences, 6 (2): 63 – 71.
        • Stahl, SM (2002). Essential psychopharmacology. Neuroscientific bases and clinical applications. Barcelona: Ariel.

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