In Ohio, the opioid epidemic that has been spreading across the nation has been front and center. One of the most popular drugs that is part of this epidemic is Vicodin. This drug is a prescription opioid that combines acetaminophen with hydrocodone. If you think you might have a problem with Vicodin or you think that someone you love may have an issue, it’s smart to know about the symptoms, signs and side effects of Vicodin addiction.
Vicodin is a prescription medication that is considered to be an opioid. It includes the opioid hydrocodone as well as acetaminophen, which is a non-aspirin pain reliever. When a person takes hydrocodone, the drug changes how the person will perceive pain, and it will increase their pain tolerance.
The Drug Enforcement Agency of America considers Vicodin to be a controlled substance – a narcotic that is supposed to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. If hydrocodone is taken in a high dose, however, it can cause a euphoric high. This is why there is such a high potential for Vicodin abuse, and this is why the substance is so frequently used recreationally.
When someone is engaging in Vicodin abuse, they will frequently crush up the medication and snort it or inject it. This will create a high feeling faster and in a more intense way. Others who abuse the drug will simply take more than they are prescribed or take it more frequently than prescribed.
Vicodin is especially dangerous because it contains an opioid as well as acetaminophen. While acetaminophen is harmless if taken in the appropriate dose, if too much acetaminophen is taken within a 24-hour period, it can cause acute liver failure, liver damage and even death.
Some people who are prescribed Vicodin may be reluctant to take it because they are worried about whether or not it is addictive. These patients are right to be concerned. It is an extremely addictive medication. Unfortunately, even people who begin taking Vicodin for an injury or following a surgery can become addicted, even if they are following the doctor’s instructions.
Those who abuse the medication recreationally may steal it or buy it illegally since it is only available by a prescription. They may also try to doctor shop, pharmacy shop or create false symptoms to attempt to get a prescription. This is one of the reasons it is so difficult for physicians to distinguish the legitimate patients who need Vicodin from those who are simply drug seeking.
Opioids are drugs that may be addictive to people from all classes and ethnicities. The person in the corporate, high-level job in Cincinnati is just as likely as the person working in a retail store in Cleveland for minimum wage to be addicted to Vicodin. This is because of the way the medication works on the brain.
Like other opiates, when Vicodin is taken, it triggers your brain to release feel-good chemicals like dopamine. This creates a sense of euphoria and a high feeling, which is what causes the medication to be so addictive.
There is no one answer to this question because it really depends on the person. Some people become addicted to Vicodin after taking it for a week or two. Some people take Vicodin for a month and never become addicted. Those who have a personal or family history of substance abuse or addiction are more likely to develop a Vicodin addiction.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Vicodin causes physical dependence even if psychological addiction is not present. This means that if Vicodin is stopped, withdrawal symptoms will be experienced. This is why it’s so important to go through medically-supervised detox if you are trying to stop taking Vicodin.
When a person takes Vicodin, it will impact their opioid receptors. This is how it can decrease the sensation of pain. It also is what causes the feelings of euphoria that make the drug so addictive. Like any opioid, Vicodin slows down the functionality of the central nervous system, which is what causes most of the Vicodin side effects. Some of the most common side effects that people experience with Vicodin include:
Some people also experience more severe Vicodin side effects like confusion, altered judgment, slowed breathing, loss of consciousness, extreme drowsiness and feeling like you’re going to faint.
The side effects described above can be experienced anytime the drug is taken – whether it’s taken for legitimate purposes or not. The side effects of Vicodin use and Vicodin abuse are similar but slightly different, especially if Vicodin is taken in the long-term.
In the long term, one of the most dangerous side effects of Vicodin abuse is addiction. Vicodin actually changes the neural pathways of the brain, which is what fuels the chronic disease of addiction.
When someone is experiencing dependence on this prescription opioid pain medicine, they may experience some of the following Vicodin withdrawal symptoms:
In addition to these physical symptoms, Vicodin withdrawal also has psychological symptoms. These symptoms include mood changes, irritability, anxiety, confusion and depression.
The severity of symptoms and the exact timeline of Vicodin withdrawal can vary depending on the situation of each person. Some factors that can influence the way the Vicodin withdrawal timeline goes includes:
Generally, the withdrawal timeline will usually go something like this:
For some people, there may be a stage called post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This is especially true for the long-term heavy Vicodin users. When this happens, there are extended withdrawal symptoms that are primarily psychological. These types of symptoms include things like depression, anxiety and cravings.
If you suspect someone you love has an issue with the drug, it’s good to know about the Vicodin addiction signs. It’s also good to know the common signs of addiction if you feel you may have a problem. Here are some of the things you may want to be on the lookout for:
Vicodin is frequently prescribed by physicians to treat pain, and so, it is widely available. Unfortunately, it is very habit-forming. The opioid element in it is hydrocodone, and it also includes acetaminophen. The acetaminophen contributes to this drug being harmful because if too much is taken, it can cause liver failure. The hydrocodone element is also what makes the drug addictive.
In terms of opioid abuse, Ohio has some of the worst problems in the country, but it’s definitely not the only state to deal with this epidemic.
If you find yourself doing one or more of the following things, you may want to consider Vicodin treatment:
How long does a Vicodin rehab program last? This will depend on your personal circumstances and situation. Most programs tend to last anywhere from 28 to 90 days. However, some rehabs offer shorter or longer programs.
How can you decide whether you need inpatient or outpatient treatment? At a Vicodin rehab, you will first meet with an addiction specialist who will go over your situation and decide whether you need inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment or a combination of the two. Many patients begin in inpatient treatment and then go to outpatient treatment programs before they transition back into normal life.
During inpatient treatment at Vicodin rehab centers like The Recovery Village Columbus, the program is residential, which means that patients will stay on campus, participating in substance abuse classes, group therapy and individual therapy and other healing activities like yoga and meditation.
In a partial hospitalization program, patients will still participate in all of the same rehabilitation activities during the day and go home in the evenings. In intensive outpatient programs or regular outpatient programs, the patient will participate in the same sorts of activities, but they won’t be on campus for as many hours throughout the week.
It can seem overwhelming and overpowering when you are in the midst of a Vicodin addiction. This is because there are elements of physical dependence that occur with a Vicodin addiction in addition to the psychological components of the disease.
The good news, though, is that all across the country, millions of people have been able to be treated for drug and alcohol addiction. Help is available to you. You just have to be willing to ask for it.
The Recovery Village Columbus aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.