Vicodin is a prescription pain reliever intended for individuals who have sustained an injury or have undergone surgery. As with all opioids, Vicodin provides swift pain relief with an accompanying sense of deep relaxation and euphoria. These pleasant effects create the perfect space for addiction to develop.
As the brain registers the desirable effects in its reward center, the stage is then set for repeated use. For someone who might be vulnerable to developing a substance use disorder, continued Vicodin use could lead to increased tolerance and dependence.
What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a narcotic pain reliever that consists of the synthetic opioid hydrocodone paired with acetaminophen. Vicodin suppresses the effects of physical pain by modifying the signaling in the central nervous system through the body’s opioid receptors.
Vicodin is available in three hydrocodone dosage levels, with 300 mg acetaminophen included in each. Vicodin is a Schedule II DEA controlled substance with a high risk for potential abuse or addiction.
Effects of Vicodin
Vicodin is an extremely effective analgesic, providing swift relief of mild to moderate pain. Because it is so effective, people may continue taking the drug for longer than it is needed. In some cases, once the physical pain subsides, the patient may have already developed an addictive response to the drug. The individual may believe they cannot manage without the Vicodin, and continue using it.
Over time, the body becomes less responsive to the drug’s effects. As tolerance to the drug increases, the person begins to take higher doses. The brain’s opioid receptors eventually turn over its dopamine production to the Vicodin, creating physical dependence on the drug.
Once dependent on Vicodin, it may become harder to procure refills legitimately for the drug, leading the person to potentially purchase counterfeit pills online or off the street. Another trajectory of Vicodin dependence is that of turning to heroin as a cheaper and more accessible alternative.
Signs of Vicodin Addiction
When someone abuses or develops an addiction to Vicodin they may exhibit certain behaviors and symptoms. These could include:
- Constricted pupils
- Skin rash
- Slowed respiratory rate
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chronic constipation
- Muscle pain
- Blurry vision
- Obsession with obtaining the drug
- Doctor shopping
- Stealing Vicodin from loved ones
- Increased tolerance
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Mental confusion
- Withdrawal symptoms
Some may abuse Vicodin by taking it with alcohol to increase its sedating effects. This is highly risky, as it could lead to respiratory distress and even accidental overdose death.
Treatment for Vicodin Addiction
If you or a loved one finds that Vicodin use has developed into dependence or addiction, help is accessible through treatment. Prior to starting treatment, however, you must first complete the withdrawal management phase of recovery. This process takes a week on average, with withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
A residential treatment program featuring an array of therapeutic activities will provide the highest level of care and support. Addiction evolves as a result of dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that, like a continuing cycle, keep a person trapped in compulsive actions.
To break free from Vicodin addiction, the individual must learn new ways of thinking and responding to triggers. Only in a structured treatment program can these changes occur, using a variety of evidence-based therapies. If you recognize the signs of Vicodin dependence or addiction, be assured that there is hope for a bright future in recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.