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
- Understanding Vicodin Side Effects
- What Are Vicodin Addiction Symptoms?
- Coping With Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms
- Getting Vicodin Addiction Treatment
- Therapies At Our Treatment Center
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.
In 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
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.