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Hydrocodone is a narcotic drug commonly found in prescription pain medications. It is always used in combination products, along with at least one other active ingredient (such as acetaminophen); it is not available by itself. The medication comes in tablet, capsule, or liquid form, and is usually taken every four hours as needed for pain. Potential side effects include drowsiness, vomiting, and constipation.

What Is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is an opioid (morphine-like) medication. It is an active ingredient in several hundred different prescription drugs. In these medications, hydrocodone is always combined with at least one other active ingredient (most often acetaminophen); hydrocodone is not available by itself. Although most often used for pain relief, hydrocodone is also used as a cough suppressant.
The medication is a narcotic and is a "controlled substance" in the United States.
(Click What Is Hydrocodone Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes These Medications?

Hydrocodone medications are prescription pharmaceuticals produced by various different manufacturers. Unlike many other drugs with abuse potential, hydrocodone is not made clandestinely (in illegal operations, such as with "meth labs").

How Does Hydrocodone Work?

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic, opioid pain reliever. It acts similarly to codeine. It is effective at decreasing pain and relieving coughing, but also causes drowsiness, mood changes, and mental "clouding." It is thought that opioid pain relievers (such as hydrocodone) work by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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