Tussionex Withdrawal

Tussionex contains hydrocodone, an opioid pain reliever and cough suppressant. Tussionex is the most frequently prescribed brand of hydrocodone-based cough reliever.

Tussionex withdrawal is the normal, predictable consequence of a drastic reduction in opioid levels in a person who is physically dependent on this type of drug. A doctor will diagnose you as being opioid dependent if you feel withdrawal symptoms several hours after your last dose of Tussionex. Withdrawal symptoms can last five or more days.


Your body adapts to the presence of certain substances, such as alcohol or Tussionex, by adjusting its own chemistry. If you continuously use Tussionex for a long time, your body learns to depend on a certain level of opioids in your system. When you become opioid-dependent, you must maintain that level of opioids for your body to feel "normal." If you allow opioid levels to drop, your body struggles to maintain chemical balance. You feel this battle for stability through unpleasant, flu-like symptoms.

Doctors call this process detoxification. Detoxification causes withdrawal symptoms. You can start the detoxification process by missing a dose, taking an inadequate dose, or by taking a drug that lower opioid levels. One such drug is naloxone, used by emergency department doctors in cases of opioid overdose.


Doctors prescribe Tussionex to treat symptoms of the common cold including an itchy, runny nose, cough and watery eyes.

Pharmacologists extract opioids from the poppy plant. Hydrocodone provides pain relief similar to morphine, another opioid.

Hydrocodone is the most widely prescribed medication in the United States today. In 2010, pharmacists filled more than 139 million prescriptions for products with hydrocodone. More than 200 products contain hydrocodone, including Tussionex.

By law, you can only get hydrocodone with a prescription and only in combination with products not associated with abuse or dependence. Tussionex contains the antihistamine, chlorpheniramine, which does not cause chemical dependence or withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it.

Americans consume more opioids than anyone else does. Although the United States represents only about 5 percent of the population, this nation uses about 80 percent of the global opioid supply. While a large number of consumers use this drug as prescribed, many individuals abuse Tussionex and other opioids because of the euphoria these drugs provide. The hydrocodone component of Tussionex is associated with more abuse than any other drug.

The DEA classifies drugs according to the potential for abuse, and has classified hydrocodone as a schedule II narcotic, meaning it carries a relatively high risk for abuse. However, Tussionex contains less than 15 mg of hydrocodone, so the DEA classifies Tussionex as a schedule III narcotic, so it poses less of a risk for abuse than formulas that contain more hydrocodone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, one in 20 Americans over the age of 12 years used a prescription opioid in 2010 non-medically. This means the person used the drug to get high or to treat a condition for which it was not prescribed. Non-medical use of Tussionex increases your risk for opioid dependence and Tussionex withdrawal.


Tussionex withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable and demoralizing, but they are usually not life threatening. Physical withdrawal symptoms typically last five or more days, with the worst symptoms occurring on or about the fourth day. Left undetected or untreated, psychological withdrawal symptoms may last much longer.


Physical symptoms of Tussionex withdrawal are uncomfortable and unrelenting. These symptoms may prevent you from sleeping, eating, sitting still or moving around. Many individuals relapse and take more Tussionex just to reduce overpowering withdrawal symptoms.
Physical symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever, Runny Nose or Sneezing
  • Goose Bumps and Abnormal Skin Sensations
  • Hot Sweats and Cold Sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Low Energy Level
  • Muscle Aches or Pains
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Rigid Muscles
  • Runny Nose
  • Shivering, Tremors
  • Teary Eyes
  • Yawning


Psychological aspects of Tussionex withdrawal may cause the individual to believe she is unworthy or incapable of recovery. Left untreated or undertreated, psychological symptoms increase her risk for relapse.

Psychological symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Restlessness
  • Social isolation

Possible Complications

While withdrawal is not usually life threatening, the symptoms associated with detoxification may cause dangerous complications. Complications of Tussionex withdrawal could include vomiting and then breathing the stomach contents into the lungs, a condition known as aspiration, which may result in fluid in the lungs or lung infections. Severe and prolonged vomiting and diarrhea may cause dehydration, resulting in electrolyte imbalances.

The primary complication of Tussionex withdrawal is relapse. Those who have recently gone through some amount of detoxification and then relapsed face a greater risk for overdose, because detoxification reduces opioid tolerance. A person who has just completed detox can overdose on a much smaller dose than they used to take.

Treatment options

A growing number of Americans are seeking help for Tussionex withdrawal and other substance abuse problems. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. admission rate for opioid drugs other than heroin soared 414 percent between 1997 and 2007.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that, in 2010, more than 23 million people in the United States needed treatment for alcohol or substance abuse. Of those who needed treatment, only about 11 percent received it at a specialty facility where specially trained staff members help individuals during the detoxification and rehabilitation process.


Many individuals try to overcome Tussionex withdrawal on their own, without the help of qualified professionals, in a process sometimes called "going cold turkey." Cold turkey is a reference to the way your skin looks during self-detoxification: pale, cold and clammy with goose bumps, much like a plucked turkey.

Self-detoxification entails several days of uncomfortable physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, as well as an increased risk for complications.

The Thomas Recipe

Some create a homemade treatment plan including medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms. One such remedy is The Thomas Recipe, which calls for valium or some other benzodiazepine to calm nerves and encourage sleep. Imodium slows diarrhea. Mineral supplements and hot baths relieve muscle aches. L-Tyrosine with B6 gives a boost of energy to overcome malaise.

While The Thomas Recipe eases withdrawal symptoms somewhat, you are still at risk for complications such as aspiration, relapse and overdose.


Consuming large doses of Tussionex, or taking this drug soon after experiencing withdrawal symptoms, increases your risk for toxic overdose. Overdose is a serious, sometimes fatal medical emergency. If you think you or someone you know has taken an overdose of Tussionex, seek emergency assistance immediately by going to the emergency room or calling an ambulance. If you need immediate help, contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Symptoms of Tussionex overdose include:

  • Breathing that Stops
  • Cold, Clammy Skin
  • Confusion
  • Extreme Drowsiness
  • Fainting
  • Pinpoint Pupils
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Weak Pulse

An overdose of Tussionex can kill you - nearly 15,000 people died from prescription painkiller overdoses in the United States in 2008, according to the CDC. Nearly half a million people seek treatment for the effects of prescription painkiller abuse at hospitals each year.

While at the hospital, doctors will administer naloxone to reduce opioid levels. Nurses establish an airway to help you breathe, monitor your vital signs and watch for complications. Emergency staff members may pump your stomach or administer charcoal to absorb the excess Tussionex. Doctors and nurses may perform CPR or other life-saving measures as necessary.

Drug Replacement Therapy

People who are not in immediate danger of drug overdose may participate in Drug Replacement Therapy, or DRT. Replacement drugs mimic the effects of opioids to ease your withdrawal symptoms but the replacement medications do not get you high. DRT drugs include methadone, Suboxone and buprenorphine. With DRT, you can participate in rehabilitation before you attempt detoxification.

Rehabilitation and behavior modification teaches you how to live without Tussionex. At some point during rehabilitation, you will wean yourself from the replacement drug by taking smaller doses increasingly further apart. If you are like many people, you may have trouble weaning yourself from the replacement drug. Harvard Medical School estimates that a quarter of methadone DRT patients eventually quit using drugs altogether, another 25 percent continues to take the replacement drug and 50 percent go on and off methadone forever.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

DRT is one type of Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, which includes medications that reduce the overpowering symptoms of withdrawal. MAT helps you tolerate the detoxification process until the time you no longer feel withdrawal symptoms.

Rehabilitation professionals say that MAT is an important and effective treatment approach because it:

  • Improves Survival Rates
  • Increase Retention in Treatment
  • Decreases Illicit Opioid Use
  • Decreases The Risk for Hepatitis and HIV
  • Decreases Criminal Activities
  • Increases Employment
  • Improves Birth Outcomes for Pregnant Women Battling Addiction

Standard Detoxification

The most common detoxification procedure involves an inpatient hospital stay lasting five days or more. During standard detoxification, doctors administer naloxone and other drugs to reduce Tussionex levels along, plus anti-withdrawal medications. While this process relieves the severity and duration of symptoms more than self-detoxification or The Thomas Recipe, you still endure the lengthy, uncomfortable and demoralizing physical and psychological battle that reduces your chances of a successful recovery.

Rehabilitation specialists recognize Rapid detox as the most humane choice in detoxification treatments available today. During the rapid detox procedure, board certified anesthesiologists administer sedatives and anesthesia along with the standard detoxification and anti-withdrawal drugs so that you doze in a comfortable "twilight sleep," unaware of the difficult and demoralizing detoxification process. Rapid detox puts you in prime position for meaningful rehabilitation in a few hours rather than a few days.


Left untreated or undertreated, opioid dependence can cause disability or premature death. Like opioid addiction, dependence is a complex but treatable illness, requiring the help of dedicated and highly trained professionals.
Overcoming Tussionex withdrawal symptoms is only the first stage of treatment; by itself, detoxification does little to change long-term drug abuse. Without effective, long-term rehabilitation and behavior modification, you are likely to endure repeated bouts of Tussionex withdrawal as you fall into an unbroken cycle of relapse and remission.

You can break this cycle by participating in rehabilitation activities. You may choose from a wide variety of rehabilitation options, from long-term residential facilities to monthly meetings with a trained counselor. Your personal course of treatment largely depends on the severity of your dependence to Tussionex and other personal needs, such as your childcare needs or ability to get time away from work.

No single treatment is appropriate for everyone. It is important that treatment is readily available so that you will remain in treatment long enough to change the behavioral patterns associated with drug abuse.

Effective rehabilitation treats your multiple needs, such as physical and mental health issues, legal or social problems and not just your Tussionex withdrawal.

Your individualized treatment plan may involve individual, family or group counseling and other behavioral therapies. Medication is an important element of treatment for many patients, as many people who are dependent on opioids such as Tussionex have other physical and mental disorders that interfere with rehabilitation. Many of these conditions are responsive to medication or other forms of treatment, improving your chances for recovery from Tussionex withdrawal.

The rehabilitation professional will continually assess your progress and modify the treatment plan so that it always fits your changing needs. Your counselor will also monitor for drug use, as relapses do occur. The counselor may request testing for certain illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. She may provide information on how to reduce the risk for contracting or spreading these diseases.