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Can Hydrocodone Affect My Memory?

This entry was posted in Opiates & Opioids and tagged , on by .
Medically Reviewed

Last Updated on July 21, 2021 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Hydrocodone and other meds used for pain purposes have been known to cause issues with memory. Understanding why this occurs is a top priority for those who suffer the side effects of opioid use. For an addict, memory loss is just one of the potential effects of using too much hydrocodone, pain pills, or illicit substances like heroin.
However, even those who take the medication as prescribed report issues with their memory and thought processes in general, when using the drug. Understanding whether the memory loss or memory lapse problems are being caused by an addiction, a reaction in the brain chemistry, a side effect, overmedication, or hydrocodone withdrawal is of concern.

Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction

Medications taken for pain, like hydrocodone, have many side effects, as well as a potential for causing addiction in the user. Hydrocodone, prescribed under common brand names like Vicodin, Norco, and Lorcet, is a narcotic used to treat pain. This type of pain pill is commonly prescribed for someone experiencing pain over a period of time, and not usually given as a one time use.

Hydrocodone’s Warning of Drug Interactions

It is not recommended to take hydrocodone while drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs. and Adverse drug interactions can also take place when taking hydrocodone with other prescribed medications. Being a controlled substance, hydrocodone should always be prescribed by a doctor. However, its potent addictive qualities also have lead to its inclusion in the opioid epidemic. Users of hydrocodone who do not have a prescription may frequently turn to dealers on the street for more powerful pain medications such as Dilaudid, Morphine, or Oxycontin. In fact, many heroin users will attribute their first use of opioids to a pain pill of some sort. It is also common for abusers of hydrocodone to take more than the recommended dose.

How Hydrocodone Dependency Happens

The standard dose of hydrocodone would be 5mg every 4 to 6 hours, for a patient needing the drug as a means of pain remediation. Unfortunately, addicts are known to take over 50 mg at a time, or ingest the medication in other ways to experience the effects faster. Drug addicts abuse hydrocodone by sniffing it in powder form, or through an intravenous (IV) delivery method. The signs of hydrocodone addiction are more apparent in those who abuse the pain pill or have become addicted. However, even those who take the drug, as recommended, have an increased risk of dependency on the opioid medication.

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Reasons Hydrocodone Could Be Affecting Your Memory

Hydrocodone Side Effects

hydrocodone memory lossMemory Loss is listed as a minor side effect when taking hydrocodone. The symptom of memory loss, is listed as a less severe side effect of the opioid pain pill. For users of the medication, common mental health related side effects include anxiety, feeling unhappy, mood swings, and confusion. Additional severe medical complications include pancreatitis, seizure, and shallow breathing. A person experiencing hydrocodone side effects would benefit from the Neurotransmitter Rehabilitation program at the Alternative To Meds Center. By focusing on rebuilding brain chemistry and providing proper nutraceutical therapies, patients are able to minimize the length and severity of these hydrocodone side effects.

Brain Chemistry

hyrdocodone affects memoryMemory loss in hydrocodone users can also be attributed to the effects the medication has on the brain chemistry. For example, dopamine is a chemical found in the brain that offers a euphoric or good feeling. Hydrocodone, and other pain medications, work by triggering the brain to make additional dopamine available. During the process, it is common for the user to get a wave of pleasurable feelings, sometimes leading the user to go in and out of consciousness (nodding out). Whether the user is experiencing the high, coming down, or in hydrocodone withdrawal, the brain chemistry is not functioning at the proper levels, which can lead to symptoms of memory loss. The pleasurable aspects of hydrocodone make it very effective as a medication for pain, giving the suffering patient a sense of feeling better in the mind and body.

But these same desirable effects of hydrocodone are also what makes it so addictive. Opioid medications, including the pain pill hydrocodone, are the most deadly and addictive prescription drugs on the market. The addictive biochemistry of the individual will likely lead to a long term dependence on hydrocodone, unless proper treatments are given to balance the dopamine levels and work on the underlying addictive issues.


hydrocodone overmedicationA person being overmedicated is a major player in unwanted symptoms such as memory loss. Sometimes, a person given hydrocodone for pain, will also be on other stronger medications for pain. Hydrocodone combined with other opiate medications could lead to a much more potent effect, and higher possibility of encountering memory loss or other memory related issues.

With opioid abuse, pain pills being taken in excess of the prescribed dosage lead to increased feelings of euphoria. Extreme hydrocodone users achieve a high similar to heroin. These medications are highly addictive and once a person begins taking them in excess, a tolerance develops requiring more and more hydrocodone to mimic the initial desirable effect. An individual using hydrocodone in combination with psychiatric meds could experience a host of additional symptoms.

Hydrocodone Drug Interactions

Hydrocodone taken in combination with other drugs or alcohol may have a serious consequence. For example, both hydrocodone and alcohol are depressants. By taking the two at the same time, there is an increased risk for side effects and symptoms. Changes in breathing, heart rate, memory, or brain issues are all potential problems a person may encounter while abusing both drugs. Even a simple glass of wine combined with hydrocodone could multiply the effects and lead to a quicker onset of intoxication.

Things to Do to Stimulate Memory

For those experiencing memory loss after using hydrocodone or other pain meds, the treatment approach would need to include aspects that treat both the brain chemistry and the addictive patterns. Even for a person that does not consider themselves addicted to hydrocodone, the brain chemistry becomes dependent on the additional dopamine. Furthermore, going without the medication could cause withdrawal symptoms or mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

hydrocodone memory lossAlternative To Meds Center treats hydrocodone dependence by using a multifaceted treatment approach. Each client suffering side effects of hydrocodone is given the proper therapies and nutrients to target dopamine levels. This process involves the use of orthomolecular medicine as well as a daily regimen of nutrients and toxin removal procedures. Once a person is able to safely break the dependence to hydrocodone, dopamine levels can be restored and kept in balance through the use of effective and natural hydrocodone alternatives.

In order to stimulate the memory, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle which includes foods that boost brain function, nutrients and supplements that target deficiencies, physical exercise, and a stress-free environment. Upon balancing the brain chemistry from the initial problems caused by hydrocodone use, our residents are given a daily routine to ensure optimal brain health and function.

Seeking Holistic Hydrocodone Treatment

At Alternative to Meds Center, we frequently see patients that have been prescribed too many medications. Often, patients have multiple doctors as many resources in providing them medications without the proper coordination of care. Our medical team helps those who are overmedicated find a baseline level of comfort through safe and effective medication tapering services, and natural alternatives to hydrocodone and other medications.

Under no circumstances is it wise to stop medication cold turkey. Acute medication withdrawal can be a difficult and medically dangerous process. Before trying to change your medication levels at home, please consult with a doctor, or consider working with our team for a holistic and effective detox.

To learn more about medication titration or how Alternative To Meds Center can handle your medication taper, please call to speak with our highly trained, knowledgeable staff.

Originally Published Feb 8, 2019 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Can Hydrocodone Affect My Memory?
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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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