Vicodin is a prescription painkiller or narcotic analgesic. In recent years, it has become a widely misused and addictive substance.
Recognizing the signs of Vicodin addiction is crucial for early intervention and effective treatment. This article explores the red flags that may indicate Vicodin addiction, with insight and guidance to enable individuals and their loved ones to take the necessary steps toward prevention and recovery.
What Is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a prescription medication that contains two potent ingredients;
- Hydrocodone, a potent analgesic that acts on opioid receptors in the brain
- Acetaminophen, a common pain reliever
Doctors usually prescribe it to manage moderate to severe pain for those suffering from spinal cord pain, fractures that cause acute physical pain, post-surgical pain, etc.
In recommended doses, Vicodin has the following short-term effects:
- Decreased discomfort
- Pain management
- Cough suppression
- A feeling of relaxation and euphoria
However, the high potency (due to its combination with hydrocodone) and euphoric effects of Vicodin make it prone to addiction. It leads to widespread misuse and eventual abuse.
How Common Is Vicodin Addiction?
People put on long-term treatment with Vicodin are prone to developing a substance abuse disorder and addiction. It is more common in patients suffering from cancer-induced pain, severe pain due to a psychological issue such as fibromyalgia, and other conditions that cause chronic pain where Vicodin may be prescribed for an extended period.
It is also common for novelty-seeking individuals that want the pleasurable effects of opioids.
Healthcare systems in most countries have a protocol in line with prescribing opioid painkillers such as Vicodin. They also have strong policies regarding refilling these prescription drugs.
However, patients building an addiction to Vicodin may not stop at that. They may exaggerate symptoms- describing mild pain as severe pain, approach under-the-table drug dealers, and resort to identity theft to obtain the medication.
According to the US Department of Labor, one in four people using Vicodin as a prescription medication is prone to addiction.
Of this, the demographics at high risk of Vicodin use disorder in the United States include:
- Young adults
- Individuals already suffering from a mental health disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder. These individuals are also at a higher risk of overdose
- People with a previous history of alcohol or drug abuse
- People with an illness or condition that causes bouts of severe pain, such as sciatica
It is unclear by sometimes hereditary influences might play a role in vicodin addiction for those with a family history of drug use or substance abuse.
Signs Of Vicodin Addiction
Behavioral and Physical Signs
If you suspect Vicodin addiction in a loved one, here are the following symptoms and signs to look for:
- Frequent use of Vicodin beyond medically prescribed doses
- Experiencing an intense craving for Vicodin
- Being preoccupied with thoughts of obtaining and using Vicodin
- Changes in social behavior, such as withdrawal from activities and relationships
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home. Increased physical dependence on others
- Financial difficulties or spending an unreasonable amount of money to obtain Vicodin
- Increased mood swings, irritability, or agitation
- Drowsiness, or increased daytime sleepiness
- Constricted pupils (a sign of Vicodin overdose)
- Flushed skin and sweating
- A sudden decrease in weight or changes in appetite
- Neglect of personal hygiene and appearance
- Vicodin withdrawal symptoms when attempting to reduce or stop usage (these include delirium, sweating, vomiting, etc.)
Psychological and Emotional Signs
Vicodin addiction has a profound impact on an individual’s psychological well-being. Common mental signs and symptoms noted in Vicodin addicts are similar to those suffering from Opioid addiction. These include:
- Frequent anxiety, panic attack
- Heightened agitation and frequent outbursts
- Feeling depressed and sad for a prolonged period
- Lack of trust in family and friends
- Compulsive lying, especially about Vicodin usage
- Development of tolerance against the drug, requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effect
- Loss of interest in activities and routine chores
- Difficulty concentrating or experiencing lapses in memory
How Does Vicodin Addiction Affect One Socially and Interpersonally?
Vicodin addiction affects individuals but can also impact their relationships and social interactions.
Victims of Vicodin addiction may suffer:
- Increased conflicts with people around them
- Strained relationships with family or friends
- Self-imposed isolation and fear of social gatherings
- Engaging in deceptive or manipulative behavior to hide Vicodin leads to mistrust in relationships
- Involvement in legal issues such as stealing or reckless driving under the effects of an overdose
How Does Vicodin Affect One’s Health Long Term?
It is a no-brainer that Vicodin has unpleasant repercussions for one’s behavior and mental health. In addition to that, it also has detrimental side effects on one’s internal health.
Here are some serious health problems due to long-term abuse of Vicodin:
- Liver dysfunction- it can range from hepatitis to chronic liver damage, leading to liver failure.
- Respiratory depression- Vicodin can cause suppression of your respiratory reflex, making you prone to infections like pneumonia
- Altered bowel function- slowed digestion causes malabsorption of nutrients and constipation
- Heart problems- these can include increased blood pressure or heart rate and also an increased risk of developing blood clots which can lead to heart attack or stroke
- Memory Problems- on high doses, hydrocodone, one of the major components of Vicodin, acts as a central nervous system depressant. It also causes severe effects of Vicodin withdrawal, such as psychosis and coma
If someone takes Vicodin when pregnant, their baby is at risk for stillbirth, prematurity, and low birth weight.
Timely recognizing and addressing Vicodin addiction can help one prevent rare but possible conditions, such as fulminant liver failure, psychosis, and coma. All of which require immediate medical attention.
How to Help Someone Suffering From Vicodin Addiction?
Now that you’ve had the crash course on recognizing symptoms of Vicodin abuse, here’s what you can do next
- Seek professional treatment from a healthcare expert who specializes in addiction
- Explore inpatient or outpatient treatment options according to the severity of the addiction
- Encourage them to engage in individual counseling or therapy
- Help them partake in support groups or connect on online forums and blogs for addiction victims
- Play your part by developing a solid support network of friends and family members
Recognizing the signs of Vicodin addiction plays a major role in reclaiming control and seeking professional help. By understanding the behavioral, physical, psychological, and social indicators, individuals and their loved ones can play a significant role in taking proactive measures to initiate and eventually succeed on the journey to recovery.
If you are looking for addiction treatment centers for yourself or a loved one, SoberSpeak has a resource for you. By calling 888-831-4586, you’ll be in touch with a free service that will find you the best possible solution.
Helpful links for addiction:
SAMHSA Treatment Finder at SAMHSA.gov
National Institute On Drug Abuse at DrugAbuse.gov
Mental Health & Substance Abuse at USA.gov