As part of the combination opioid/narcotic/analgesic class of drugs, Vicodin is relatively new to the American market as a pharmaceutical to treat moderate to severe pain following injury or surgery. However, it’s quickly become one of the most abused drugs in the country. At our Vicodin Addiction Treatment Center, we strive to help our clients overcome Vicodin abuse.

Vicodin Addiction Facts

In terms of Vicodin addiction facts, since its debut, 99 percent of Vicodin was consumed within the United States. Moreover, as of 2012, it was the most common opioid prescribed by health professionals. 142 million prescriptions during that time. Additionally, in 2009 alone, it was reported that nearly 16 million Americans 12 and older use prescription Vicodin for a non-medical purpose.

Vicodin Addiction Treatment CenterIn the most current statistics available addiction researchers and specialists estimate that the abuse rates of Vicodin have quadrupled over the last decade, with more than two million individuals suffering from severe addiction to the drug. Additionally, in 2009 alone it was reported that nearly 16 million Americans 12 and older used prescription Vicodin for a non-medical purpose at least once a year; in 2010 an average of six percent of children 18 and younger abused the drug; and Vicodin addiction costs our country more than $484 billion a year in healthcare, lost job wages, traffic accidents and in the criminal justice system.

Vicodin, like nearly all opioids, works by blocking pain receptors in the brain and, in the process, creating feelings of euphoria and extreme relaxation similar to morphine or even heroin. However, when a tolerance to the active ingredient in Vicodin—Hydrocodone—develops more and more of the drug is required to achieve the same feelings experienced when use first began. And serious Vicodin addicts have been known to take in excess of 25 pills a day in order to achieve the desired effects.

As Vicodin directly affects the central nervous system as a depressant, it naturally decreases heart rate and respiration, raising the chances for a lethal overdose from heart failure or stroke if too much of the drug is taken. And Vicodin is especially dangerous when combined with other drugs such as alcohol, greatly increasing the chances for a life-threatening complication. Additionally, the longer the drug is abused the more negative consequences are likely to be present with the user, including medical issues and problems with familial and social relationships as well as damage to career, financial and legal well-being.

Understanding Vicodin Side Effects

As with many prescription medications, Vicodin has a wide range of side effects ranging from common and expected to rare and severe. And when Vicodin is abused and taken in a manner not intended, many of these side effects can cause lasting damage to the body and mind and even be potentially deadly.

Of the more common effects, lightheadedness and sleepiness are to be expected, as is mild constipation (especially after an individual first begins taking the drug.) Often, as the body becomes accustomed to Vicodin these effects can be controlled if the user takes the drug only as directed by their physician.

However, the severe side effects can be extremely dangerous, and they most often occur when Vicodin is taken in a manner not recommended, such as taking too much or mixing it with alcohol and other drugs. Given the way Vicodin affects the receptors in the brain as well as the central nervous system it’s easy, once a level of tolerance has been reached, to overdose on the drug. Bloody or cloudy urine; a change in consciousness; chest pain or discomfort and cold and clammy skin are all signs that someone is in danger of overdosing on Vicodin.

A user should seek emergency medical attention immediately if they experience:

  • decreased awareness or responsiveness
  • extreme drowsiness (where they cannot be woken up)
  • a general feeling of illness; increased sweating; unpleasant breath odor
  • irregular heartbeat
  • fainting

In the most extreme cases of Vicodin overdose, the user will have no blood pressure or pulse, no muscle tone or movement, will not be breathing and will have sudden decrease in the amount of urine produced.

Because Vicodin contains acetaminophen as one of its main active ingredients, the potential for severe and irreversible liver damage is a distinct possibility when the drug is abused or when an overdose occurs. Signs of liver damage from an overdose of acetaminophen include loss of appetite and nausea and vomiting—too often these symptoms are discounted because they mimic those of the flu. When acetaminophen is metabolized a metabolite, which is toxic to the liver, is created. Ideally, the liver is able to process the toxic substance and eliminate it from the body, but often it is unable to do so due to genetic problems interfering with liver function or because too much acetaminophen has been ingested, leading to more of the toxic compound than the liver can handle.

If any unusual symptoms occur when an individual begins or continues taking Vicodin they should inform their health care provider immediately. And in the case of an overdose, it’s vital they seek emergency medical care, as many of these side effects can cause long and lasting damage to body and the brain.

What are Vicodin Addiction Symptoms?

There are many underlying origins—biological, psychological and social—that can lead to an addiction to Vicodin, including a genetic predisposition to drug abuse and addiction, childhood or recurring physical or mental abuse and previous experience with opioids and their effects. But sadly, beyond their use for moderate to serious relief from pain as prescribed by a medical professional it’s common for a dependence to and tolerance for the drug to develop quickly as the body and brain become accustomed to the drug’s effects in a relatively short period of time.

Among the most common signs of a Vicodin addiction are:

  • “nodding out,” a condition in which the abuser appears to be in a constant daze or have difficulty focusing on a particular task or conversation
  • vomiting or nausea; severe and sudden mood swings
  • a noticeable state of paranoia
  • uncontrollable bouts of depression accompanied by insomnia
  • an obvious obsession with getting more of the drug, which may involve visiting different physicians to obtain multiple prescriptions, lying about a prescription being lost, going through their prescription too quickly or outright stealing of Vicodin from family and friends

Other physical symptoms of Vicodin abuse—which are common with the abuse of any opioid—are:

man contemplates treatment while dealing with heroin withdrawal symptoms

  • a slowed heartbeat
  • lightheadedness
  • confusion and fear
  • seizures and convulsions
  • a headache accompanied by blurred vision
  • ringing in the ears
  • constricted pupils
  • itching and swelling
  • extreme weakness
  • cold and clammy skin
  • constant drowsiness
  • persistent constipation

Many of these outward signs of abuse may signal a potential Vicodin overdose as well, and therefore should be closely monitored. In the event of an overdose it’s vital the individual seek emergency medical attention immediately as their heart rate may slow down to point of coma or death.

As recognizable as the physical signs and symptoms of Vicodin abuse may be, the social aspects may be harder to realize. Sometimes an addict displays a slow withdrawal from friends and family members and ceases hobbies and activities that were once enjoyable. The psychological symptoms of abuse may also be less noticeable, and may include bouts of euphoria and anxiety; severe mood swings, delusion thinking or behavior; and memory problems.

As the abuser develops a tolerance to Vicodin, more and more of the drug is needed to attain both the pain-relieving effects as well as the euphoric high that accompanies those effects. And over time Vicodin can seriously harm the body’s internal systems, causing liver damage or failure (due to the acetaminophen present in the compound), jaundice and problems with the urinary system. Additionally, after long-term abuse Vicodin alters receptors in the brain, and therefore the effects of the drug—especially difficulty concentrating, severe mood swings, anxiety and depression—can become permanent conditions.

Coping with Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms

Often Vicodin addiction starts innocently enough: a person may be injured in an accident or recovering from surgery and in a significant amount of chronic pain. Their doctor prescribes Vicodin to manage that pain, but as the body and brain develop a tolerance to hydrocodone—an opioid and the active and potentially addictive ingredient in Vicodin—more and more is needed to obtain the desired effects: euphoria, relaxation and a sense of overall wellbeing.

Common Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms You May FaceHowever, when abuse of Vicodin begins physical and mental changes occur quickly: people who abuse the drug become anxious and confused, exhibit a slowed heartbeat, experience wild mood swings and may have seizures and convulsions. And of course, deadly side effects of Vicodin abuse can include coma and irreversible damage to the liver as well as the pain and pleasure receptors of the brain.

When a state of withdrawal from Vicodin use begins, the abuser can expect a wide spectrum of symptoms to occur, ranging from mildly annoying to serious and debilitating. On the mild scale, anxiety and agitation, uncontrollable yawning, a runny nose, persistent insomnia and sweating and muscle aches are common. These symptoms of withdrawal aren’t typically life threatening and pass quickly as the body breaks its reliance on the drug.

More serious symptoms of withdrawal include cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and these should be reported to a health care professional immediately so that further damage to the body’s systems can be avoided. Unfortunately, these more serious symptoms often lead the user back into a life of abuse, and therefore once Vicodin withdrawal begins it’s vital the addict seek help and guidance from a professional addiction specialist or in- or out-therapy programs, all of which can help the addict cope with the effects of withdrawal and avoid a relapse into abuse.

Getting Vicodin Addiction Treatment

When an addict makes a conscious decision to seek help in breaking their addiction to Vicodin they should first seek out a qualified addiction treatment center. Whether they choose to take part in an out-patient therapy group or check into an in-patient facility, specialized treatment centers can not only help ease the symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal put can also equip the addict with the tools they’ll need to avoid a relapse into use and ultimately obtain long-term recovery.

therapist leads individual therapy session with man during opioid addiction treatmentMost often the first step in Vicodin addiction treatment is a medically supervised detoxification process that helps gradually remove the drug from the body’s system. This stage of detox is often eased with synthetic opiate drugs such as Suboxone, which replaces Vicodin and calms withdrawal symptoms. Some addiction treatment centers will also utilize buprenorphine paired with naloxone during the initial detox stage, which activates opiate receptors in the brain and reduces cravings for the drug while also preventing the addict from abusing the medication designed to help in recovery.

Once initial detoxification has been completed the addict should begin a course of intensive therapy that explores the issues that led to dependency. During therapy—whether it’s in an individual or group setting—addiction specialists can offer tools and alternative ways to deal with these issues as well as address emotional and psychological problems that exist. They can also help the addict find ways to repair the damaged relationships with family and friends that very often occur with drug abuse.

Unfortunately, Vicodin addiction most likely developed because the user was taking the drug for a legitimate reason, such as for the management of chronic and long-term pain. This pain may still exist, and therefore must be treated with methods that can no longer involve opioid medications such as Vicodin. Therefore, an addiction treatment program should work in conjunction with the addict’s physician in order to find healthy pain-management techniques. Such techniques may involve meditation and self-hypnosis combined with specially designed exercises as prescribed by a doctor or other health care professional.

As well as the continuing existence of chronic pain, certain psychological and social factors and stressors may still exist that can push a Vicodin addict back into a life of drug abuse. The “escape” effect that Vicodin provides is hard to break free from, and relapse into use is a real danger at all points of addiction recovery. So, it’s important that the addict receive some form of cognitive and behavioral therapy that can assist them in coping, in healthy ways, with the stressful realities of everyday life.

The relatively new existence of opioid-based drugs such as Vicodin means addiction counselors and specialists are still seeking new ways to treat abusers and help them achieve lasting recovery. But the proven methods and therapies that do exist for opioid abuse and addiction are highly effective, and anyone seeking to end their dependence on the drug should absolutely seek help from in- and outpatient programs as they provide the best possible chances for a long life free of Vicodin addiction and dependence.

Therapies at Our Vicodin Addiction Treatment Center

When you enter our Vicodin Addiction Treatment Center, you’ll have access to various Addiction Therapy Services. For example, these may include:

The therapies in which you receive will depend on your original assessment with our counselors. Therefore, we can identify the true causes of your addiction and begin to tackle them directly. Moreover, if you are struggling with mental illness, we can treat that as well. Through dual diagnosis, we can help you recognize how your addiction and mental illness directly influence one another.

Learn More About Beacon House Today

Is your Vicodin addiction becoming a problem for you and those around you? If so, visit our Vicodin Addiction Treatment Center today. In fact, you can overcome addiction in your life, with a path to overall wellness. Through addiction education and treatment, you can learn coping skills and relapse prevention techniques for future recovery.

Don’t let prescription medication take hold of your life. Therefore, reach out to our support staff today at 831.372.4366. At our Vicodin Addiction Treatment Center, you can regain control of your life with an exciting future ahead of you.