Drugs of Addiction Vicodin Abuse & Addiction

Vicodin Abuse & Addiction

Vicodin is a brand-name opioid medication typically used to treat short-term pain as well as chronic pain in some cases. The medication contains a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is a synthetic opioid, while acetaminophen is a painkiller commonly found in Tylenol. 

Opioids like hydrocodone are highly addictive, and acetaminophen can cause liver damage when used in high amounts. To reduce the risk of liver damage, Vicodin was recently reformulated to contain a lower amount of acetaminophen. Still, Vicodin abuse can lead to addiction and cause a wide variety of health concerns.

Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for those struggling with Vicodin addiction in Ohio. The following provides an overview of Vicodin addiction, its effects and how it can be treated.

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Vicodin Abuse in Ohio

Although Vicodin is not the most commonly abused opioid in Ohio, it has greatly contributed to the state’s opioid crisis. Data shows that opioids like Vicodin contribute to thousands of overdose deaths throughout the state each year. In 2019 in Ohio:

  • The opioid drug fentanyl was involved in over 76% of drug overdose deaths. However, it was usually in combination with other drugs, implying that many drugs are adulterated with fentanyl.
  • Over 4,000 people died from an unintentional drug overdose.
  • People aged 35 to 44 had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths.
  • The rate of overdose deaths from semi-synthetic opioids has been falling since 2014 and was around 7% in 2019.
  • The most dangerous drug mixture is cocaine and opioids, and this combination was the cause of death for about 1,000 Ohioans in 2019.
  • The unintentional drug overdose rate for black non-Hispanics surpassed the rate for white non-Hispanics. As of 2019, male black non-Hispanics have the highest rate of unintentional overdose death in Ohio.

While Vicodin is not a primary drug in overdose deaths, its addictive potential is still enormous. Vicodin is a less potent opioid, so it’s often the first one that people try. If someone develops an addiction to Vicodin, however, there’s a high risk that they will move onto more powerful opioids like fentanyl.

How Vicodin Addiction Happens

Vicodin and other forms of hydrocodone are categorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as Schedule II drugs. Schedule II drugs are those that have an accepted medical use but carry a high risk of abuse and addiction. Certain hydrocodone formulations were Schedule III, but this classification has changed due to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Vicodin is a brand name for the combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Other common brand names for hydrocodone include:

  • Anexsia (hydrocodone containing acetaminophen)
  • Hysingla (hydrocodone)
  • Hycodan (hydrocodone containing homatropine)
  • Lortab (hydrocodone containing acetaminophen)
  • Tussionex (hydrocodone containing chlorpheniramine)

The risk of Vicodin addiction is never zero, even when the medication is taken exactly as prescribed. Vicodin and other opioids can also lead to dependence after a few weeks of regular usage. Dependence greatly increases the addiction risk because it causes a person to feel uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking Vicodin.

Vicodin leads to addiction because it reinforces its own use by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine leads to feelings of pleasure, motivation and reward. Sustained levels of dopamine can lead to addiction in a matter of weeks with regular Vicodin usage.

Common Signs of Vicodin Addiction

A person addicted to Vicodin is likely to show signs and symptoms of Vicodin abuse. These can include:

  • Taking Vicodin without a prescription
  • Taking Vicodin in a way other than prescribed, including taking more, more frequently, crushing or snorting the drug
  • Pharmacy or doctor-shopping to get multiple prescriptions
  • Poor school or work performance
  • Trouble with finances or relationships
  • Stealing Vicodin or money to get the drug
  • Lying about or hiding their Vicodin use 
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they stop using Vicodin
  • Being unable to stop their Vicodin use

For a full list of symptoms and side effects of Vicodin addiction, go to Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Vicodin Abuse → 

Why Is Vicodin Addictive?

Vicodin and other opioids are addictive because they cause a flood of pleasure and euphoria that does not occur with other types of stimuli, such as food, friendship or games. The rush of euphoria is caused by Vicodin binding to mu-opioid receptors. Opioid receptors are the complex pathway in the body that is responsible for activating and suppressing pain responses. Abusing opioids takes advantage of this innate system to make a person feel good. Vicodin also increases levels of dopamine, which reinforces drug-seeking behavior and motivates people to continue using substances.

What is Vicodin used for?

Vicodin is used for the management of acute or chronic pain. It is most often prescribed for mild to moderate pain after surgery.

How much Vicodin is too much?

Tolerance to the drug varies widely from one person to another. Any amount more than what has been prescribed is too much. Abusing Vicodin greatly increases the risk of addiction.

What does Vicodin look like?

Vicodin tablets are white, oblong and imprinted with “VICODIN” on one side. The other side has the strength of the drug listed on it.

Vicodin Addiction Treatment in Columbus, Ohio

When looking for a Vicodin addiction treatment program, it’s important to find a rehab center that can ensure your needs are met in recovery. The best addiction treatment facilities offer:

  • Well-trained and licensed medical staff
  • Evidence-based treatment approaches
  • A full continuum of care
  • Dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Aftercare services
  • Treatment for a variety of substance addictions

Typically, the treatment process will begin with a medical detox program. Medical detox is important because it helps to treat and prevent dangerous withdrawal symptoms. For example, a person quitting Vicodin can become dehydrated because they are likely to have withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Medical detox helps to treat these concerns. Other medications can also be used to prevent the ongoing cravings that can lead to relapse.

After medical detox, clients begin addiction treatment at the rehab facility. Treatment includes group and individual therapy, medical appointments, counseling, peer support meetings, recreation and more. Many people begin treatment in an inpatient setting and gradually transition to outpatient care. In some situations, people with less severe addictions may begin outpatient treatment immediately after completing their detox program. After completing a rehab program, clients then begin the aftercare phase of treatment. Aftercare involves maintenance programs, relapse prevention strategies, alumni events, support group meetings and much more.

Ohio Resources for Opiate Addiction

There are many helpful resources for Ohioans struggling with opioid addiction, including:

If you or someone you love is struggling with Vicodin abuse and addiction in Ohio, The Recovery Village Columbus is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about Vicodin addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation.

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.