If you’re living with Vicodin addiction or abuse, it’s normal to feel hopeless or scared. However, you are not alone in your experience. With the right support, you can break free and leave substance abuse behind.
What Is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a prescription painkiller that doctors use to treat moderate to severe pain. Vicodin contains two active ingredients: hydrocodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol).
While Vicodin is medically useful for pain relief, it comes with a high potential for abuse and addiction. Some people take Vicodin recreationally to experience its relaxing and euphoric effects. However, misusing Vicodin is extremely dangerous and puts you at risk of dependence, addiction, and fatal overdose.
What Is Vicodin Abuse?
Vicodin abuse is when you use the drug in a way other than how your doctor prescribes, or without being prescribed Vicodin at all. People may abuse Vicodin by:
- taking it in higher doses than the prescription recommends
- taking it more frequently than the prescription recommends
- mixing it with other drugs
- using the substance as a coping mechanism, to self-medicate, or for its recreational effects.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse?
If you’re worried that a loved one may be misusing Vicodin, there are some signs and symptoms to look out for. If you recognize any of these signs, contact a mental health professional for expert advice and support.
Psychological and behavioral symptoms of Vicodin abuse may include:
- neglecting home and work responsibilities due to Vicodin use
- loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- neglect of self-care, hygiene, and physical appearance
- financial difficulties
- claims of “losing” a prescription for Vicodin
- visiting multiple doctors to obtain several prescriptions of Vicodin (“doctor shopping”)
- physical and/or psychological dependence on Vicodin
- continuing to use Vicodin despite any negative consequences.
What Are the Effects of Vicodin Abuse?
Abusing Vicodin and other prescription drugs can cause serious damage to your mental and physical health.
Some of the short-term dangers of Vicodin abuse include:
- depressed heart rate and breathing rate
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle pain
- overdose, including coma and death
The long-term dangers of Vicodin drug abuse may include:
- liver damage, caused by acetaminophen
- physical dependence
Recognizing and Treating Vicodin Overdose
Vicodin overdose happens when you take it in an amount that causes serious harm to your body. As a central nervous system depressant, Vicodin in high doses can slow the respiratory system down to dangerously low levels, possibly leading to respiratory failure and death.
If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Vicodin, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. Doctors can administer the drug Naloxone to reverse the effects of opioid overdose and save the person’s life. Some members of the public – including people struggling with opioid abuse – also carry Naloxone in the form of a nasal spray.
Common symptoms of opioid overdose include:
- pale face
- limp body
- fingernails turning purple or blue
- being unable to speak
- falling unconscious
- breathing or heart rate slows or stops.
Understanding Vicodin Addiction
Abusing Vicodin and other opioid prescription painkillers puts you at a real risk of addiction. Vicodin addiction can develop very quickly and is even possible when you are following a prescription exactly. However, taking Vicodin in higher doses or more frequently than recommended greatly increases this risk.
If you are struggling with an addiction to opioids, remember that you are not alone. While addiction can be scary, there is a way out. Effective addiction treatment can support you to recover from your problem with Vicodin use.
What Is Vicodin Addiction and How Does it Develop?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior that continues despite any negative consequences. Addiction involves physical changes in the brain that can produce strong urges (cravings) to seek and use substances even after long periods of abstinence.
Because of the physical nature of addiction, most people can’t quit substance use by willpower alone. However, talk therapies, medication, and other types of treatment can help individuals develop strategies to cope with cravings and even go some way to reversing brain changes.
While addiction can happen to anyone, certain risk factors make developing an addiction more likely. These include:
- experience of early life adversity such as childhood trauma
- spending time with peers who abuse drugs or alcohol
- living with a mental health disorder
- growing up in a home with drug or alcohol abuse.
What Is the Difference Between Vicodin Dependence and Addiction?
While addiction is a psychological and behavioral condition characterized by compulsive drug seeking, Vicodin dependence refers to short-term, physical adaptations of the brain in response to repeated use.
Physical dependence develops when the brain gets used to the presence of the drug in the body and adapts its function in response. You begin to need more Vicodin to experience the same effects and eventually become dependent on it to feel normal.
If you then try to stop taking the drug, you experience a series of Vicodin withdrawal symptoms as your body readjusts. Opioid withdrawal symptoms are mainly physical and may resemble a very severe flu.
While in most cases Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, they can be serious and you should never try to withdraw from prescription opioids alone. Instead, medical detox programs and other mental health professionals can provide expert planning and supervision to ensure your safety at all times.
Vicodin Addiction Treatment
In recent decades, groundbreaking advances in the field of addiction science have uncovered a range of effective, evidence-based treatment options proven to help people recover from opioid addiction.
Every individual’s experience of addiction is different and no single treatment works for everyone. Effective addiction treatment programs combine a variety of approaches in a personalized treatment plan that suits each client’s needs.
Addiction treatment approaches may include:
- cognitive-behavioral therapy
- support groups
- group programming
- medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone
- experiential therapies
- life skills development
Recovery is a life-long process that requires continued support and dedication. Most addiction treatment programs will offer comprehensive aftercare to connect you with local services, outpatient programs, recovery meetings, and other valuable sources of support to guide you through the journey ahead.
Cirque Lodge is a private and exclusive addiction recovery center in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. Our majestic and serene surroundings are the perfect place to heal, providing the peaceful environment you need to focus on introspection and personal growth. Our exciting experiential program of indoor and outdoor activities helps clients to learn while doing, reconnect with their passions, and rediscover their love of life.
We’re experts in treating opioid addiction, combining clinical excellence with compassionate and personal care. Our programs are fully individualized from beginning to end to cater to your every need. We’re here to make the recovery journey as easy and smooth as possible for you and will support you however we can.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, substance abuse, or addiction, contact us today. Our team of professionals is on hand to answer any questions you may have and explore the next steps. All calls are fully confidential and we treat every client with compassion and respect.