Vicodin is a brand name of a prescription medication approved to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. This drug is very effective at pain management and produces a euphoric high in large doses, making it “habit-forming” or potentially addictive.
Vicodin is an oral tablet that takes effect within an hour of taking it. When someone develops an addiction to the euphoric effects of this drug, they may crush their medication and snort it. They also may find ways to inject it, in which case it will take effect within minutes. These tablets are a combination product containing two active ingredients:
Acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Acetaminophen is a mild pain reliever and fever reducer found in drugs like Tylenol and Panadol. It can cause liver damage and even be life-threatening in very high dosages. However, it is unlikely to be abused alone. Acetaminophen is purchasable over-the-counter and is not significantly addictive. Hydrocodone is the heavy-hitter in Vicodin addiction. Hydrocodone is a potent opioid developed from the natural opiate codeine or thebaine. Like all opioids, this drug is a narcotic analgesic (painkilling) drug with highly addictive properties. It is similarly addictive to morphine.
Hydrocodone has similar but much more potent properties to the body’s natural opiates present in your body’s natural reward system.
This drug works by binding to mu-opioid receptors – receptors involved in the communication and reaction to pain.
The strong opioid overwhelms the receptors and halts pain messages from being sent to the brain. At the same time, it causes these hydrocodone receptors to flood the brain with dopamine.
This rush of dopamine is what causes people to develop Vicodin dependency. Even when you take it as prescribed, the use of this drug provides a euphoric rush, often followed by sedative effects. The body gets used to this high volume of synthetic opioids, and its functions that reduce the effects of sedation increase in order to strike a balance.
With time, the body needs the drug to function normally, and the system swings into an uncomfortable, even dangerous, state of withdrawal when Vicodin use stops suddenly. Heart rate, temperature, pain communication, GI function, and anxiety all shoot up and are difficult to manage. Withdrawal symptoms play a huge role in the cycle of Vicodin addiction, but they can be managed with proper treatment.
It is possible to recognize Vicodin addiction in yourself and others. Physically, symptoms of an opioid use disorder look similar to all other prescription opioid addictions.
These well-documented symptoms can include:
If you are concerned that someone you know or live with is misusing Vicodin, any or all of the following signs may alert you to a hidden problem.
If you recognize these behaviors in yourself, you may need some support to take back control of this drug:
Prescription drug abuse is not uncommon, but many people suffering from it face a lot of fear and stigma, even from those they are close to. When you suspect a problem, it can be hard to start the conversation. Bringing up the topic of drug abuse is an excellent first step and can help you gauge your loved one’s response.
If you need support in an intervention, addiction professionals at rehabilitation clinics like Cirque Lodge can guide you.
Vicodin addiction is nobody’s fault. This condition grows out of a web of potential environmental, biological, emotional, and personal factors. Once you are ready to seek treatment, medical professionals can help you on the path to sustainable sobriety.
Prolonged or heavy use of Vicodin is very likely to cause dependency and tolerance, raising the risk of overdose with each use.
However, it also comes with a host of other physical and psychological symptoms that can be dangerous.
Physical Side Effects:
Psychological Side Effects:
The psychological side effects of Vicodin addiction can lead to a slow breakdown of daily life. Simple tasks like driving a car are not safe to do when in the cycle of narcotic influence or withdrawal. Brain fog and loss of interest make it hard to maintain work quality, deadlines, or schedules. Other mental effects can lead to a crumbling of interpersonal relationships – family, friends and other loved ones also suffer as a result of your addiction.
When you have developed a dependence to Vicodin, your body has adjusted to it being present in your system.
You will go through withdrawal if you choose to quit the drug “cold turkey.” Vicodin withdrawal is different for everyone and will depend on your physiology, how long you took the drug before stopping, and in what amount. It is, however, not a pleasant experience for anyone.
Withdrawal symptoms of all intensities cause cravings – which can be potentially dangerous if they are acted on. When you enter into withdrawal, your body starts to lower your tolerance. Feeding cravings after a few days, even just to self-medicate the withdrawal symptoms, can put you at much higher risk of an overdose.
At Cirque Lodge, we provide detox treatment in a private and luxurious center.
Sometimes withdrawal can be distressing – this is a critical time when numbness fades away, and real emotions come flooding back, so we strongly recommend that addiction is treated with proper medical and psychiatric support. We aim to minimize challenging symptoms and cravings and will provide medication where necessary to keep you as comfortable as possible.
After acute withdrawal symptoms have subsided, you will be able to focus on the real work of healing. At Cirque Lodge, our skilled therapeutic staff effectively combine an abstinence-only 12-step program with a wide range of experiential and cognitive therapy.
Vicodin treatment is not just about treating the immediate symptoms related to drug addiction but also treating any co-occurring disorders that may be undiagnosed. We offer dual diagnosis as part of our program to individualize our treatment and meet your specific needs. Our objective is to support residents and provide them with the skills and strategies they need to live a sober, happy, and healthy life when they graduate from the program and leave our center.