Vicodin is a combination of the opioid narcotic hydrocodone and the fever reducer acetaminophen, and it is prescribed to relieve intense pain. The Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, recognizes that hydrocodone is potentially addictive, and lists Vicodin as a Schedule II drug.
Symptoms of Vicodin Misuse
- Mood Swings
- Poor Performance at Work or School
- Borrowing or Stealing Money to Buy More Vicodin
- Stealing Pills from Friends and Family
- Doctor Shopping
- Reckless Behavior
- Withdrawal Symptoms
- Financial Problems
- Secretive Behavior
Long and Short-Term Effects of Vicodin Misuse
Short-term effects of Vicodin misuse include a lower perception of pain, feelings of euphoria, suppression of the cough reflex, and feelings of relaxation and calm. Long-term effects include addiction and tolerance as well as a lack of oxygen to vital organs like the brain, memory consolidation issues, and poor stress management.
Some of the side effects of Vicodin include:
- Impaired Judgement
- Impaired Judgement
- Loss of Consciousness
The most current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists tolerance and withdrawal symptoms as criteria for a substance misuse disorder. When you take or misuse a substance like Vicodin for a length of time, the brain develops a tolerance to the substance and begins to expect its presence in the body. A physical and psychological dependence may occur, and when the drug leaves the bloodstream, after about eight hours, the individual may begin to feel withdrawal symptoms.
Factors Influencing Withdrawal
There is no specific timeline for Vicodin withdrawal, as it depends on several factors and can be different for each individual. Typically, symptoms will start within a few hours of the drug leaving the bloodstream, peak between 7 and 10 days, and generally last a few weeks total. Protracted withdrawal, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), may occur in some cases wherein withdrawal and some symptoms may persist for up to a few months.
Vicodin blocks pain sensations, which is what makes it an effective pain reliever, although it also interferes with certain neurotransmitters that are responsible for the regulation of moods, emotions, motivation, and pleasure. Over time tolerance levels increase, natural neurotransmitter production is disrupted. The more these levels are chemically altered, the harder the brain has to work to regain balance when they are removed.
Physiological factors also influence one’s individual withdrawal timeline. Everyone reacts differently to drugs and may develop tolerances at different levels. While one person may experience PAWS with a certain level of misue, another person with the same level may not. There is no way to conclusively predict which person’s symptoms will be worse, although certain aspects such as general overall health, sensitivity to drug interactions, and emotional well-being may play a role.
Side Effects of Withdrawal From Vicodin
Opioid withdrawal is rarely life-threatening, although it can be very uncomfortable. The physical symptoms of Vicodin withdrawalinclude:
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle aches
- Trouble with temperature regulation
- Runny nose
- Irregular heart rate
- Excessive tearing
- Chills and/or gooseflesh
- Dilated pupils
Vicodin withdrawal also includes emotional side effects, and symptoms may include:
- Mood swings
You should not attempt to stop taking opioid drugs like Vicodin suddenly without the help of a medical professional. Many times, the medical professional will help you work out a slow and controlled method of weaning, or tapering off, intake until you are completely drug-free. This helps to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Sometimes, the use of medications is recommended to assist with the detox of Vicodin from your system. This is called medical detox and should be performed in a safe and secure medical detox facility with 24-hour medical supervision and care available. Substitution medications may be used instead of Vicodin to taper the opioids out of your system.
The best way to ensure a safe and controlled withdrawal from Vicodin and prevent relapse is to seek treatment. Behavioral therapies can help you learn to manage behaviors and mannerisms, giving you the proper tools for coping with life stressors and potential triggers that may induce negative thoughts or patterns. Boosting self-esteem and improving self-image can go a long way toward developing a desire to avoid certain behaviors.
Get Help Today
At Futures, we employ the latest evidence-based treatment models, tailoring care plans to the specific needs of patients. Offering a variety of treatment levels, including specialized treatment for co-occurring conditions, we are dedicated to providing each individual person with the highest level of care possible.
Compassionate and professional staff members are standing by to answer any questions you may have. Contact Futures now.