"*" indicates required fields

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Understanding the Classification and Effects of Hydrocodone

What is hydrocodone? Is hydrocodone an opioid? How does that play into addiction treatment? Find out here.

Hydrocodone has been a subject of discussion and curiosity among many individuals. One common question that arises is, “Is hydrocodone an opioid?”

In this article, we will shed light on the classification and effects of hydrocodone. We will also provide a comprehensive understanding of this medication and its implications for those considering its use.

We’ll get right to unraveling the question, “is hydrocodone an opioid?” in the sections below.

Jump to Section

Is Hydrocodone An Opioid?

To answer the question “is hydrocodone an opioid?”, we will need to examine key criteria that are considered for classifying drugs under this class. These key criteria determine whether a drug falls under the opioid category.

Some of these key criteria include:

Pharmacological Properties

Opioids interact with specific opioid receptors in the body. In doing so, they produce specific pharmacological properties like pain relief and euphoria.

Analgesic Effects

Opioids exhibit potent analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.1 Because of this, they are often prescribed for moderate to severe pain management.

Central Nervous System Effects

Opioids can cross the blood-brain barrier and act on the central nervous system. There, they can:

  • Suppress pain signals
  • Alter moods
  • Induce sedation or relaxation

is hydrocodone an opioid

Potential for Dependence and Addiction

Opioids have a significant potential for dependence, tolerance, and addiction. This is due to their effects on the brain’s reward system. Continued use may lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Side Effects

Common side effects of opioid use can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory depression
  • In high doses, life-threatening effects on breathing

Medical Uses

Opioids have legitimate medical uses. This includes managing acute and chronic pain. They are also used as palliative care for patients with terminal illnesses.

Now, back to the question at hand: Is hydrocodone an opioid? The answer is yes. Hydrocodone is classified as an opioid because it checks all the boxes above.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Hydrocodone vs. Other Opioids

Next up in answering the question “is hydrocodone an opioid,” we will be considering how hydrocodone stacks up against other medications that are members of the opioid drug class.

Potency of Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is considered a moderately potent opioid. This means it provides effective pain relief for many people.

In terms of potency, hydrocodone falls in the middle range among opioids. It is less potent than medications like morphine and oxycodone but more potent than codeine.

Effectiveness in Relieving Pain

Hydrocodone has been found to be effective in relieving moderate to severe pain. This makes it a commonly prescribed option for various conditions.

That said, you should know that pain relief can vary among individuals. What works well for one person may not have the same effect on another.

Combination Formulations

Just like most other opioids, hydrocodone is often formulated with other non-opioid pain relievers to enhance its effectiveness.

Consideration of Side Effects and Risks

Like other opioids, hydrocodone can cause side effects such as drowsiness. It is crucial to weigh the potential benefits against the risks when considering hydrocodone for pain management.

Request a Confidential Call

Take the First Step Toward Recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we encourage you to request a confidential call. At Rockland Treatment Center, we understand the sensitivity and complexity of your situation and are here to offer you a space to explore treatment options, ask questions, and receive support from experienced professionals. Taking this first step can be challenging, but it’s a courageous and significant move towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

"*" indicates required fields

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Mechanisms of Action

As mentioned earlier, hydrocodone elicits its effects by acting on the brain. But, how exactly does it do this? Good question; read on to find out.

Activation of Opioid Receptors

Hydrocodone acts by binding to and activating opioid receptors.

These receptors exist in several regions of the brain involved in pain perception. By activating these receptors, hydrocodone blocks the transmission of pain signals.

Modulation of Neurotransmitters

Hydrocodone also affects the release and reuptake of neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

These neurotransmitters play crucial roles in functions like:

  • Pain signaling
  • Mood regulation
  • Reward pathways

By modulating their levels, hydrocodone can influence pain perception and induce a sense of relaxation.

Altered Pain Processing

Hydrocodone exerts its pain-relieving effects by changing the processing of pain signals within the central nervous system.

It can dampen the sensitivity of pain receptors. It can also make them less responsive to painful stimuli. This modulation of pain processing contributes to the analgesic properties of hydrocodone.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Potential Risks and Side Effects

Just like with every medication, there are risks to using hydrocodone for pain management.

Below are some of the potential risks and side effects associated with hydrocodone use.

Respiratory Depression

Opioids like hydrocodone can slow down breathing. This could potentially lead to respiratory depression.

Because of this, it is important that you take hydrocodone as prescribed and avoid combining it with other substances.

Sedation and Drowsiness

Hydrocodone can cause sedation and drowsiness. This could impair a person’s ability to concentrate.

Refrain from activities requiring alertness until the effects of hydrocodone are known.


Hydrocodone causes constipation by slowing down the movement of the digestive system. Proper hydration and the use of stool softeners may help manage this side effect.

Nausea and Vomiting

Some people may experience nausea and vomiting as a result of hydrocodone use. Taking the medication with food or adjusting the dosage timing can help reduce these symptoms.

Physical Dependence and Addiction

Prolonged use of hydrocodone can lead to physical dependence. Abruptly stopping the medication may cause withdrawal symptoms.


With continued use, the body may develop a tolerance to hydrocodone. This can increase the risk of side effects and potential overdose.

Interactions with Other Medication

Hydrocodone can interact with other medications. This could lead to increased sedation and respiratory depression.

It’s important to inform healthcare providers about all medications being taken to avoid potential drug interactions.

We accept most insurance plans

We accept a wide range of insurance plans, making it easier for more people to get the quality care they need without worrying about the cost.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Non-Opioid Alternatives to Hydrocodone?

Next up in this article on the question, “is hydrocodone an opioid?”, let’s talk about non-opioid alternatives to hydrocodone. These non-opioid alternatives are essential because hydrocodone can be addictive, and as such, it shouldn’t be used for long periods.

The following are some of the non-opioid alternatives to hydrocodone:

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are often used for mild to moderate pain relief.

They work by reducing inflammation and can be effective for various conditions. But, long-term use can be associated with gastrointestinal side effects.


Acetaminophen, often known by the brand name Tylenol, is another non-opioid option. It is often used for managing mild to moderate pain and reducing fever.

Acetaminophen is generally well-tolerated when taken as recommended. But, excessive use can lead to liver damage. Careful monitoring and adherence to dosage are crucial.

Topical Analgesics

Topical analgesics, such as creams, gels, or patches, can provide localized pain relief. These products often contain ingredients such as:

  • Capsaicin
  • Lidocaine
  • Salicylates

They are beneficial for conditions like muscle strains, arthritis, or neuropathic pain. Topical analgesics often have fewer systemic side effects.


Certain anticonvulsant medications have shown efficacy in managing neuropathic pain. These medications work by stabilizing overactive nerves.

Side effects may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Peripheral edema


Certain types of antidepressants have been found to be effective for certain types of chronic pain. But, these medications may cause side effects.

These side effects could include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Current Regulations and Guidelines Surrounding Hydrocodone Use

Here’s a comprehensive explanation of the current regulations and guidelines governing hydrocodone use.

Schedule II Controlled Substance

In the United States, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) provides a legal framework for the regulation of drugs. It is categorized into five schedules (I to V) based on their potential for abuse and other factors.

What This Means

Hydrocodone, as an example, falls under Schedule II of the CSA. Schedule II drugs are drugs with a high potential for abuse. They are dangerous and can lead to severe addiction if not used as directed.

As a Schedule II drug, hydrocodone is subject to strict regulations. The rules impose restrictions on the ways the drug can be prescribed and dispensed.

Prescription Requirement

Hydrocodone can only be obtained through a valid prescription from a healthcare professional. It is illegal to possess or use hydrocodone without a prescription.

Prescription Limitations

To prevent misuse, there are restrictions on the number of hydrocodone prescriptions. Prescriptions are often limited to a 30-day supply. Refills may need a new prescription.

Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMP)

Prescription monitoring programs track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances. They aim to prevent doctor shopping and to identify potential cases of misuse or addiction.

Patient Evaluation

Healthcare professionals conduct a thorough evaluation of patients before prescribing hydrocodone. This includes assessing the patient’s medical history and potential risk factors for misuse.

Risk Mitigation Strategies

To promote safe use, prescribers are encouraged to implement risk mitigation strategies. These strategies may include:

  • Regular follow-ups
  • Urine drug testing
  • Exploring non-opioid alternatives

Education and Informed Consent

Patients prescribed hydrocodone should receive clear information about its potential risks and benefits.

Informed consent should always be obtained. This ensures patients are aware of the potential for addiction and other effects.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP)

These provide healthcare professionals with access to a centralized database. They identify individuals who may be getting excessive or overlapping prescriptions for hydrocodone.

Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

These guidelines often emphasize the importance of individualized treatment and risk assessment.

Get fast answers to your questions

Looking for information on addiction treatment or just need to talk? Our experienced and compassionate team is here to guide and support you every step of the way.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Hydrocodone Alternatives

Hydrocodone alternatives help to prevent the incidence of hydrocodone addiction and dependence, amongst other benefits. But, they also have their drawbacks.

In the following section, we’ll take a look at some of these potential benefits and drawbacks.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Some of the pros and cons of NSAIDs include:

  • Benefits of NSAIDs: NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can provide effective pain relief for mild to moderate pain.
  • Drawbacks of NSAIDs: Prolonged use of NSAIDs can lead to stomach ulcers and potential kidney problems.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Below are the benefits and drawbacks of acetaminophen:

  • Benefits of Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen is an analgesic that can help reduce pain and reduce fever.
  • Drawbacks of Acetaminophen: High doses or long-term use of acetaminophen can cause liver damage, so it should be used cautiously and as directed.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Tramadol

Below are the pros and cons of tramadol use.

Benefits of Tramadol

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid that can provide pain relief for moderate to severe pain.

Drawbacks of Tramadol

Tramadol also carries a risk of dependence. It can cause side effects such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Codeine

Some of the pros and cons of codeine use include:

  • Benefits of Codeine: Codeine is an opioid often used for pain relief and cough suppression.
  • Drawbacks of Codeine: Codeine can cause drowsiness and constipation. It also has the potential for addiction and misuse.

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Non-Opioid Analgesics (e.g., Gabapentin, Pregabalin)

Below are the pros and cons of non-opioid analgesics.


These medications work by targeting nerve pain. They can be effective for specific types of pain, such as neuropathic pain.


Side effects can be pretty uncomfortable. They may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Potential interactions with other medications

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Physical Therapy and Alternative Treatments

Below are the benefits and drawbacks of alternative treatments.


Non-pharmacological approaches provide long-term pain management without relying on medication. These include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care


These treatments may require ongoing sessions and are not always effective for all types of pain. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable alternative to hydrocodone.

This may be based on your specific needs, medical history, and the nature of your pain. Remember, the goal is to find the most effective and safest option for your individual circumstances.

is hydrocodone an opioid

Is Hydrocodone an Opioid: Find Help at Rockland Recovery

Do you find yourself continuously wondering, “Is hydrocodone an opioid?” If you’re asking this question, or you have a loved one struggling with substance misuse, Rockland Recovery is here to help.

About Rockland Recovery

At Rockland Recovery, we specialize in providing comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals struggling with alcohol and opioid addiction. This includes hydrocodone addiction.

We understand how daunting dealing with addiction can be. We also know that the path to recovery might seem overwhelming. But, you do not have to tackle addiction alone.

Our Team and Treatment Approaches

Our team of dedicated professionals has the experience, knowledge, and empathy to guide you through your recovery journey.

We offer:

  • Individualized treatment plans
  • A safe and supportive environment
  • A wide array of therapy options

We will walk with you every step of the way, giving you the tools and support you need to reclaim your life from addiction.

Contact Rockland Recovery Treatment Centers

At Rockland Recovery, we’re committed to providing compassionate and effective addiction treatment services. We understand that reaching out for help is a significant step, and our team is here to guide you through every stage of your journey toward recovery.


Rockland Recovery is a leader in addiction treatment and mental health care. Our multidisciplinary team of top medical experts is committed to addressing the unique needs of each patient. Reach out to us anytime – we are available 24/7.

For additional information or to find addiction treatment and mental health services in your area, contact us directly or visit SAMSHA’s treatment locator. For immediate assistance, call or text 988 to reach the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or 855.732.4842 to speak to a Care Coordinator at Rockland Recovery.

Medical Reviewer Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Medically Reviewed by Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Kate is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked in the field of substance abuse for the last nine years. At Rockland Recovery, Kate works to provide resources to the local community and engage and progress Rockland Recovery’s alumni program.

Request a confidential call

"*" indicates required fields

Preferred Method

Addiction Treatment Programs Massachusetts

Our comprehensive substance abuse treatment services are designed not just to treat the symptoms of addiction but to address the underlying causes, fostering deep, lasting healing and personal growth.

Want to speak to us?

At Rockland Recovery, we’re committed to providing compassionate and effective addiction treatment services. 

"*" indicates required fields

Preferred Method

Are you looking for addiction treatment in Massachusetts?

At Rockland Recovery, we are committed to providing effective addiction treatment services. Our approach is personal, our methods are proven, and our commitment is unwavering.

Massachusetts Addiction Treatment Center

Quickly check your insurance coverage benefits for treatment

We accept most insurance plans

"*" indicates required fields

MM slash DD slash YYYY
Include images of your insurance card
Max. file size: 25 MB.
Max. file size: 25 MB.