Typically, doctors prescribe Vicodin for moderate to severe pain. In most cases, it’s prescribed to help manage pain from injury or surgery. This narcotic medication helps to dull the experience of pain but doesn’t treat the source of the pain.
But this doesn’t stop a large portion of Americans using and abusing this drug.
Vicodin abuse is rife and according to a 2013 national survey, approximately 24 million people across the U.S. have used Vicodin recreationally. Like taking it for its intended use, it helps to numb pain but doesn’t deal with underlying personal trauma.
So what is it about Vicodin, specifically, that makes it so addictive and dangerous to abuse? Let’s find out…
What Is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a prescription tablet comprised of two separate drug types known as hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
What’s most important is that hydrocodone is a synthetic opioid, which reacts with neuroreceptors in the brain. These same receptors are also activated by opioid drugs such as heroin. So, essentially, these substances have the exact same effect.
Each Vicodin tablet contains 300mg of acetaminophen and three different amounts of hydrocodone: 5mg, 7.5mg or 10mg.
Generally, you shouldn’t take more than one Vicodin tablet every 4-6 hours, however, addicts have a far higher tolerance than this.
Risk Factors of Vicodin Addiction
While the DEA labels drugs such as heroin as Schedule 1, Vicodin isn’t that far off. It’s labeled as a Schedule II drug — and for very good reason.
Vicodin is a highly-addictive prescription medication because of its opioid characteristics which alter the chemical activity of the brain.
Thus, the risk factors of Vicodin addiction are obvious — this can lead to addiction and all the terrible life choices that go along with this.
One of the most common negative side effects of Vicodin abuse is liver damage and liver failure. But an addict would need to be consuming an average of 4000mg of Vicodin per day.
The long-term risk factors and side-effects of Vicodin abuse include:
- The onset of depression (Vicodin is known to cause depression)
- A deteriorated state of mental illness
- Gastrointestinal issues such as severe constipation and bowel obstruction
- A suppressed immune system and frequent bouts of illness
- Negative changes in brain function, levels of intelligence and mood
- Cardiovascular issues including high blood pressure and blood clotting
- Difficulty sleeping
- Pregnancy issues i.e. regular miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects
- Menstrual issues
Aside from these health issues, Vicodin addiction affects many other areas of your life. This includes your relationships, holding down a job and being a responsible adult.
Symptoms and Side Effects of Vicodin Abuse
So what does it feel like to take Vicodin and why is this feeling so addictive? Vicodin causes a rush of euphoria and relaxation – an overall feeling of “numbness.”
As with any addiction, users tend to build up a tolerance to the drug and begin consuming more of it to reach new highs. This is where addiction can quickly spiral out-of-control.
The side-effects of Vicodin abuse include:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Severe mood swings
- Intense nausea and bouts of vomiting
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Unable to focus on any task or concentrate for too long
- An unhealthy fixation with finding another Vicodin ”hit and high”
Due to the fact that you need a Vicodin prescription to access the drug, many addicts will ”doctor shop” to find new prescriptions.
If you suspect a loved one of harboring a Vicodin addiction, here are of the most obvious symptoms of Vicodin abuse:
- They experience common financial and legal issues
- Relationships are troubled and strained (with you, friends, and colleagues)
- Performance at school, college or work has deteriorated
- They often appear sick and skip days of work, college or school
- Changes in mood and behavior – acting out, irritable, short-tempered
- Issues with memory and recalling the things they said or did when taking Vicodin
Because of a Vicodin addict’s fixation with finding their next high, everything else in their life will begin to take a back seat. This includes relationships, professional life, finances, personal hygiene, and health.
What’s also important to understand is that Vicodin is most well-known for its ability to cause depression. If you have a history of mental illness, Vicodin can only exacerbate the situation.
Chemical changes in the brain caused by the compounds in Vicodin are a key contributor to permanent depression which can last a lifetime.
Treatment and Recovery for Vicodin Addiction
Vicodin withdrawal can be severe and tends to set in after just a small reduction in a daily dose. This is why many addicts find it so difficult to begin the recovery process.
But to live a substance-free, sober life, withdrawal is a key part of the process. Here’s to expect from Vicodin withdrawal:
- Intense muscle and bone aches
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Feeling feverish and cold
- Uncontrollable restlessness
- Trouble sleeping
Taking the leap into recovery and withdrawal takes a lot of courage, but once the withdrawal is over, the true journey to sobriety begins.
As a recovering Vicodin addict, there are two options to choose from along the journey of recovery. This is an inpatient treatment center or outpatient treatment plan.
The more severe an addiction is, the more effective an inpatient rehabilitation center will be for a full recovery.
The best candidates for outpatient treatment are those who have a strong support network and an addiction that is not “too far gone.”
During either treatment plan, withdrawal is generally completed in-house. This way, you have access to medical professionals to help through the withdrawal process.
Once withdrawal is complete, the best length-of-stay needs to be determined. Generally, the longer the treatment plan, the better the outcome.
An in-patient treatment plan consists of:
- A thorough physical and mental assessment by designated professionals
- Supervised withdrawal and detoxification
- Individual accommodations with all required amenities
- Personalized, one-on-one therapy to assess mental and emotional well-being
- Group therapy and support groups to help along the way
- Daily activities to encourage new, healthy habits and a sober way of life
An outpatient treatment plan is much the same, except those in recovery undergo rehabilitation from home. They’re required to attend group and individual therapy sessions every day.
Outpatient treatment is only possible with a supportive family and friend network who are willing the help every step of the way.
The Vicodin Addiction Treatment Solution that Suits You
At REVIVE Detox and Addiction Treatment Solutions, we pride ourselves in offering treatment for all conditions, including Vicodin addiction.
We are a leader in private and advanced treatment solutions in Los Angeles, and truly believe we offer a treatment solution to suit all needs.
Get in touch with our team today and begin your journey to recovery with us!Most PPO Health