Can Hydrocodone Affect My Memory?

Hydrocodone is classified as an opioid, a group of drugs which also includes morphine, codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone. It is used to control pain and is typically found in combination with other drugs like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen.

Like all opioid pain relievers, hydrocodone is highly habit forming and should only be used for short-term pain management or as prescribed by a physician. Hydrocodone has a variety of side effects.

Some of these include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble thinking
  • Impaired motor function/clumsiness
  • Trouble breathing or slow, shallow breathing

Opioid drugs like hydrocodone work by changing the way the body perceives pain. Because these drugs work in the central nervous system, making changes in the signals the brain sends and receives, regular use of the drugs can also lead to problems with memory.1

Hydrocodone and Memory Loss

A person’s response to pain and pleasure, as well as all autonomic bodily functions are controlled by neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters send messages to the rest of the body that cause appropriate actions and reactions. Opioids work like neurotransmitters, binding to opioid receptors in the brain. With prolonged use these drugs can interfere with long and short-term memory. This is especially true in adults over the age of 50.1

While taking hydrocodone for short periods as prescribed by a doctor can cause minor memory problems, this impaired thinking usually goes away after drug use is terminated. However, if a person misuses hydrocodone or becomes addicted, longer-lasting memory problems can occur.2

In addition, if a person takes hydrocodone along with other drugs known to cause impaired memory function – even over-the-counter drugs like Claritin or eye drops – the ultimate damage may be even greater memory loss.


Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction

Over time, a person can develop an addiction to hydrocodone, even without realizing it. The drug may impair a person’s thinking, causing him to dismiss even the largest warning signs of addiction.

Common signs of hydrocodone addiction include the following:
  • Poor school or work performance
  • Anxiety and or agitation
  • Defensiveness over hydrocodone use
  • Distancing self from family or friends
  • Stealing from loved ones
  • Sudden or recurring lack of money despite financial resources
  • Selling personal property
  • Taking higher doses of hydrocodone than prescribed
  • Taking hydrocodone more often than prescribed
  • Visiting more than one doctor to acquire multiple prescriptions
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lying to cover up hydrocodone use
  • Constant lethargy3

If you notice these signs in yourself or someone you love, seek help immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment of addiction significantly increases the likelihood of success.

Finding Help for Hydrocodone Addiction

La Paloma inpatient buildingIf you or a loved one struggles with a hydrocodone addiction, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline, 901-350-4575, 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. Your memory is too important to lose to a hydrocodone addiction. Call us today.


1 Jr., Armon B. Neel. “Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss Side Effect.” AARP, June 2015.

2 What Causes Sudden Memory Loss?WebMD, WebMD, Aug. 2018.

3 Hydrocodone Addiction: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 12 Dec. 2016.

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