Vicodin abuse and addiction - signs, symptoms and treatment

As the nation's opioid epidemic continues, addiction to prescription drugs like Vicodin is all too common. Understanding the causes, signs, and nature of Vicodin addiction can help you recognize the condition and seek treatment as soon as possible. With the right support, recovery is possible for anyone.

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What Is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a prescription opioid drug that doctors use to treat moderate to severe pain. It contains the active ingredients hydrocodone and acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol). Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid with addictive potential.

The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Vicodin as a schedule II controlled substance with a high potential for addiction and abuse.

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How Does Vicodin Abuse Affect the Brain and Body?

Hydrocodone works by binding to and activating opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body. Our opioid system is involved in many important functions, including the regulation of pain, pleasure, and reward. When hydrocodone attaches to these receptors, it blocks pain signals sent between the body and brain. It can also cause intense feelings of euphoria, producing the "high" associated with opioid abuse.

On the other hand, Acetaminophen blocks pain by preventing the synthesis of a natural substance called prostaglandin that causes inflammation in the body. It can also reduce fevers by acting on the temperature-regulating area of the brain.

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Why Is Vicodin So Addictive?

When you take hydrocodone, it interacts with the reward systems in our brain - including the dopaminergic and opioid reward systems.

These reward systems are a natural part of how the brain works, reinforcing life-preserving behaviors like eating and having sex. When we engage in these activities, our brain releases small amounts of chemical messengers - including dopamine and endorphins (natural opioids) - which send a signal to our brain to repeat the activity.

Taking hydrocodone floods the brain with these hormones, altering neuronal connectivity in the brain. Repeated use causes strong urges the take the substance again which can be very difficult to resist. These changes can be long-lasting or even permanent; however, addiction treatment can go some way to reversing them.

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What Are the Effects of Vicodin Abuse?

Vicodin abuse is when you take Vicodin recreationally or in a way other than what your doctor prescribes. While it is possible to become addicted to Vicodin when following a prescription, abusing the substance makes it far more likely.

Abusing Vicodin can have serious short-term and long-term consequences for your mental and physical health. Some of the possible effects include:

  • Drowsiness

  • Dizziness

  • Constipation

  • Depressed heart rate

  • Depressed breathing rate

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Muscle pain

  • Liver damage, caused by acetaminophen

  • Physical dependence

  • Addiction

  • Overdose, sometimes involving coma or death

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Preventing Vicodin Overdose

Vicodin overdose happens when you take more Vicodin than your body can process, and may involve both hydrocodone overdose and acetaminophen overdose.

During a hydrocodone overdose, your respiratory system slows to dangerously low, and sometimes fatal, levels. Symptoms of hydrocodone overdose include:

  • pale face

  • limp body

  • slowed breathing and heart rate

  • vomiting

  • loss of consciousness

  • respiratory failure

If you think someone may be experiencing a hydrocodone overdose, seek immediate medical attention. The medicine Naltrexone can reverse opioid overdose effects and save the individual's life. Some members of the public may also carry Naltrexone as a nasal spray.

You can also overdose on the acetaminophen present in Vicodin. Symptoms of an acetaminophen overdose include:

  • loss of appetite

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • pain in the abdomen or belly, especially in the upper right side

If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, you should see seek immediate medical care.

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Addiction?

If you are worried that you or a loved one may have developed Vicodin addiction, there are some signs and symptoms to look out for. These may include physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lays out 11 symptoms that characterize a substance use disorder. These include:

  • Using Vicodin in larger amounts or for longer than you should do

  • Wanting to reduce or stop Vicodin use but not being able to

  • Spending a lot of time acquiring, using, or recovering from Vicodin

  • Experiencing cravings or urges to take Vicodin

  • Neglecting home, work, and social responsibilities because of Vicodin

  • Using Vicodin despite negative consequences, including for your mental and physical health

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using Vicodin

If you recognize any of these Vicodin abuse signs and symptoms, you are not alone. There is plenty of help and support available to help people recover from addiction and lead fulfilling lives. Addiction treatment centers and other medical professionals can offer advice and guidance on how best to continue.

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What Is the Scope of Vicodin Abuse in the United States?

Vicodin, and its generic version, is the most widely prescribed painkiller in the United States. The majority of people who abuse Vicodin discover the drug via prescription, rather than experimentation. Most people abusing Vicodin obtain the drug from their own or someone else's prescription.

Addiction and abuse of opioid prescription drugs is a serious national health crisis in the United States. Between 1995 and 2020, more than 263,000 people died from an overdose involving prescription opioids. Some people abusing prescription opioids move on to other forms of illicit opioids, including heroin. Currently, 136 people die each day from some type of opioid drug.

To combat the so-called opioid epidemic, federal and state governments have launched several programs to help prevent prescription opioid abuse and offer treatment to those who need it. While overdose deaths remain high, there have been improvements in some areas, including significant reductions in opioid prescribing rates.

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What Are the Risk Factors For Developing Addiction?

Every individual is different, and there is no one cause for addiction. However, several risk factors make developing an addiction more likely. These include:

  • Genetics

  • Having parents or family members who abuse drugs or alcohol

  • Experiencing childhood trauma or early life adversity

  • Co-occurring mental illnesses that can drive addictive behavior

  • Peer pressure

  • Using drugs during adolescence

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Vicodin Addiction Treatment

Vicodin addiction can be tough, but there is a way out. Decades of extensive scientific research into the nature of addiction have uncovered a variety of treatment methods proven to help individuals overcome substance abuse and lead sober, fulfilling lives.

Every person is different and has their own story of Vicodin abuse, and no one treatment works for everyone. Effective addiction treatment programs typically offer a combination of different treatment approaches, tailored to each client's unique needs.

Treatment programs may be inpatient, where you stay at the treatment center for the duration of the program, or outpatient, involving regular visits to a center while continuing to live at home. Many treatment plans combine evidence-based methods with mind-body healing practices to offer a holistic recovery experience.

Some treatment options for Vicodin abuse include:

  • Medical detox, to support Vicodin withdrawal

  • Talk therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy

  • Medication-assisted treatment

  • Support groups

  • Group programming

  • Complementary therapies such as yoga and mediation

  • Experiential therapies such as creative art therapy

  • Dual diagnosis programs that address any co-occurring disorders alongside addiction

Recovery from addiction takes long-term commitment, and early recovery can be full of challenges. Most treatment programs offer comprehensive after-care to support you upon completion. This may involve connecting you to local support groups, providing recovery coaching, and involvement in alumni networks and events.

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Addiction Treatment with Vita Recovery

Vita Recovery is a top-tier, inclusive rehabilitation center located in downtown Miami. We offer an innovative and modern approach to drug and alcohol abuse based on empirically derived treatment methods from the forefront of addiction science. Our personalized services are customized to each client to precisely match their medical, psychological, emotional, and social needs.

Our modern treatment center offers privacy and luxury within an open and welcoming environment. We offer partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs to help clients transition back to daily life. Whatever support you need, we'll be by your side every step of the way.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, contact us today. We'll go above and beyond to support you to reach your recovery goals. Call our facility or contact us online to begin your journey.

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Why Choose Vita Recovery?

125+ Years of Combined Medical & Clinical Experience
  • 360-Degrees of Services

    Each patient is assigned an individual treatment plan that addresses all the medical, psychological, emotional, and social needs of our patients.

  • Innovative and Modern Approach

    Based on empirically derived treatment interventions & science, we provide patients with effective strategies backed by evidence-based outcomes.

  • Personalized Service for Patients

    Treatment at Vita is customized for each patient. We understand that everyone is unique and so are their needs.

  • World Class Facility

    When you walk into Vita Recovery, you'll feel like you're at a 5-star, luxury facility. We mix modern with comfortability for our patients.