Vicodin is a prescription pain-reducing medication that combines acetaminophen and hydrocodone. It is commonly used to treat people who are struggling with moderate-to-severe pain, as it is a powerful painkiller.
However, as an opioid, it can be habit-forming, and some people use it to experience feelings of deep relaxation and euphoria.
Even for those who take the prescription as directed by a physician have a chance of becoming dependent on it. Therefore, it’s helpful to understand the signs of addiction and the treatment modalities for Vicodin addiction.
If you are wondering if you are addicted to Vicodin, or any pain medication for that matter, common addiction signs include:
Vicodin will suppress the central nervous system, automatically decreasing the heart rate and breath.
Abusing Vicodin can cause such a drop in heart rate that a fatal overdose can occur, so it’s vitally important to take this medicine as prescribed by a physician.
Substance abuse professionals also assert that no one who takes Vicodin should ingest alcohol, as doing so can increase the risk of death. As you can see, Vicodin is nothing to play around with.
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When taking a medication, the body can get used to the dose, so the effects of the drug may decrease over time.
To get the same effect, some people take more of the drug because the body has gained a tolerance. This tolerance can lead to drug dependence or addiction, making it challenging to get off the drug.
There are withdrawal symptoms associated with Vicodin when you stop taking the medication, even if you’ve only taken it for a couple of weeks. Withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity and duration based on various factors, such as:
The pace at which one goes through Vicodin withdrawal varies from person to person depending on the factors mentioned earlier. As an opioid, the withdrawal timeline is similar to other opioids. However, a general withdrawal timeframe is as follows:
Vicodin has a short half-life, so one could begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms within eight to 12 hours from the last dose. Early symptoms include feeling like you have the flu with muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, and stomach cramps.
By Day 3, the worst of the withdrawal symptoms may have passed. Lingering symptoms in this stage are appetite loss, diarrhea, chills, and perhaps vomiting.
Most or all of the physical symptoms may have subsided by Day 6. Heavy Vicodin users may still be dealing with some uncomfortable symptoms for several more days. It may take a while to feel 100 percent, as the brain continues to get its chemicals back to balance.
When someone takes opioids such as Vicodin, the brain gets a dopamine boost. So, when the person is no longer taking the drug, it takes the brain a bit of time to realize that it’s not getting that boost artificially anymore. It may take several weeks before it balances out, which is why it’s important to have social and professional support during this time.
Detoxing from Vicodin at home is not recommended because quitting cold turkey or abruptly is very dangerous. Physically, some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea so much so that they run the risk of becoming dehydrated. Mentally, the cravings can be very tough to overcome on your own. It is best to consult with your physician before abruptly stopping your medication as a gradual reduction is recommended.
It is possible to overdose on Vicodin. This is more apt to occur when someone stops taking Vicodin for some time and then decides to start using the drug again. Your body reduces its tolerance for Vicodin during withdrawal, so if you happen to start taking the drug again at a later date, the strength of the drug could be too much for your body, and you could overdose.
After the initial detox from Vicodin, it’s best to continue with a level of care that fits your needs. A qualified substance abuse professional or physician may be able to help you determine your next treatment step for overcoming Vicodin addiction. This may involve an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility.
Due to the addictive nature of opioids, inpatient treatment is a helpful option to make the most progress in recovery. There, you’ll be surrounded by addiction specialists 24/7 in a safe and supportive environment where you can receive individual therapy and medical care as you detox from the drug. You’ll also have access to a counselor and a physician that may be able to prescribe medications to help you get through the daunting withdrawal symptoms while you detox.
Outpatient treatment is a great option for those who cannot leave their home or job to reside at the facility. Treatment involves attending a certain number of sessions throughout the week in the day or evening. Patients may begin with five or six sessions a week and then gradually decrease the number of sessions as they progress in their recovery. The same types of treatment will be given that occur in an inpatient treatment center, including individual counseling and support group meetings.
The first step in treating addiction is to recognize and admit that you have a problem. Know that it’s all right to admit that your attempts to stop using Vicodin have not been successful. Today is a great day to commit to getting help so that you can begin a journey toward freedom from addiction.
Vicodin is a great prescription drug for pain, but if you’ve become addicted to it, know that there are alternative pain reduction routes you can pursue. This is something you can discuss with a treatment specialist. You do not have to struggle one more day living your life addicted to a drug.
Healthline. (2019, January 8) Symptoms of Vicodin Withdrawal. Roland, J. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/symptoms-vicodin-withdrawal
NIDA. (2020, May 29) . Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction?. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/there-difference-between-physical-dependence-addiction
Very Well Mind. (2018, November 2). Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms. Fogoros, R. ,MD. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/vicodin-withdrawal-symptoms-67822
The Heller School. (2018, December 19) . Redefining Opioid Addiction Treatment. Romano, B. Retrieved from http://heller.brandeis.edu/news/items/releases/2018/winter-magazine-opioids-cindy-thomas.html
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2015, May 13) What are the ASAM Levels of Care?. Retrieved from https://www.asamcontinuum.org/knowledgebase/what-are-the-asam-levels-of-care/