Vicodin is an opioid narcotic medication consisting of a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is generally used to treat clients struggling with significant injuries or chronic pain. This kind of treatment works by altering the client’s perception of pain while working to induce feelings of sleepiness and well-being at the same time. Vicodin is a Schedule II drug, as classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which means that the risk of abusing the drug is high and it can easily lead to addiction or physical dependence. In fact, the University of Michigan recently released a study that indicates Vicodin is the second most commonly abused pharmaceutical drug in the United States, second only to Adderall.
How Vicodin Abuse Starts
Vicodin abuse can happen in a variety of ways. One of the most common issues occurs when people take medication that was not prescribed for them. In this instance, perhaps a friend or family member was prescribed Vicodin for chronic pain or an injury of some sort, and another individual decided to take the Vicodin instead – or perhaps the injured family member offered leftover medication they were no longer using to a friend or relative who was struggling with their own pain. They might not see the harm in doing this, but is a serious form of abuse that can easily lead to addiction.
Taking Vicodin other than prescribed – whether in a higher dosage than prescribed or for other reasons than prescribed – is another major form of abuse. When individuals take Vicodin for recreational purposes, it is probably easy to see the drug abuse. But it might be harder to recognize it in someone who simply takes an extra pill every now and then. While it might not seem like a serious issue, that too is drug abuse and can lead to serious consequences.
How Vicodin Addiction Starts
Vicodin addiction is common and perhaps unsettlingly easy to fall into. In fact, it can be incredibly difficult for many people to recognize and admit that they have a problem because they never intended to abuse the drug at all. The hardest part of this situation to comprehend might be the fact that some people can find themselves addicted to Vicodin even if they are taking medication that was prescribed to them, in the dosage prescribed to them. The real issue is that Vicodin doesn’t only relieve pain – it also grants users a euphoric high that makes everything seem great for a while. Once the pain for which the original prescription was prescribed fades, users might be left missing the euphoria that came along with the pain relief. This can lead to the individual searching for more medication in order to continue to experience that sense of well-being – and at this point, they are already addicted to the substance.
While the above is a common origin of Vicodin addiction, it is not the only origin. Sometimes people seek out Vicodin voluntarily because they are curious about the substance. They, too, can become intoxicated with the euphoria it grants and end up seeking more and more of the medication in order to maintain their sense of well-being and happiness.
Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse
While Vicodin can affect individuals a bit differently depending on a variety of factors, there are certain symptoms and signs that tend to remain constant among users:
- 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
Some of the above symptoms and signs are caused by the drug itself, while others are caused by the desperate hunt for drug that tends to develop – and some belong to both categories. Though Vicodin use can be a result of anxiety and depression (also called a co-occurring disorder) they are also common side effects that tend to manifest once the drug’s effects have worn off, for example, which tend to spur the user into action when it comes to finding more Vicodin to help provide relief from those negative emotions. This can lead to users stealing money or medication in order to feed their habit.
Long and Short-Term Effects of Vicodin Use
Short-term effects of Vicodin use 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
Detox Process and Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms
When a user quits taking Vicodin after developing a tolerance to the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be fierce as the time from a client’s last dose increases, and can include:
- Joint and Muscle Pain
- Cold Flashes
The detox process depends upon how often the individual in question has used the drug, how much they took, and how long they have been taking it. Detox can last for longer than a week, and begin within a few hours after the user’s last dose. It can sometimes take up to a month after a user’s last dose for lingering psychological symptoms, like depression or anxiety, to fade.
Vicodin Addiction Treatment
Vicodin abuse can be difficult to handle without help, as people who abuse this drug tend to develop such a tolerance to the drug that they feel sick or unwell without the drug coursing through their veins. There are several options for treating Vicodin addiction:
- Replacement Medications (medication-assisted treatment) may help, as a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 49% of people given replacement medications were able to curb their prescription painkiller abuse rates, compared to only 8.6% of people who did not have medications.
- Group and Individual Therapy can help people get to the root of why they abuse Vicodin, and what they’ll need to make that abuse stop.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy that focuses on the psychosocial aspects of treatment for mental health and other issues.
For some people who abuse Vicodin, those conversations revolve around other mental health-related issues. At Futures of Palm Beach, we specialize in helping people who have co-occurring disorders, which requires special considerations.
If you are facing Vicodin addiction and would like to know what your recovery options are, don’t hesitate to reach out to call Futures today. Our experienced staff members can help.