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Help with Vicodin Addiction

Vicodin is an often-prescribed painkiller and a combination of acetaminophen and the opiate hydrocodone. The hydrocodone is included to decrease the sensation of pain while the acetaminophen helps to reduce swelling. Vicodin is made for moderate to severe pain relief. The way that Vicodin works is by inducing a sense of euphoria and blocking the pain receptors in the brain from receiving signals. This makes the narcotic extremely effective when it comes to relieving pain, but also extremely addictive with long-term use.

Because it is so effective in pain management, it has become one of the most widely prescribed narcotics in the world. According to reports, hospitals and pharmacies distributed enough Vicodin in one year to offer every adult and child living in the United States 24 5mg tablets. Even though it may seem inconceivable that this many prescriptions were needed to manage pain in this country, it does go a long way towards explaining why Vicodin addiction is such a prevalent issue.

Pathway to Addiction

It is important to understand that someone does not become addicted to Vicodin overnight. Most people are unaware of how powerful the narcotic is when first prescribed. Even though most of the information is often contained in a booklet provided with the drug, most people remain blissfully unaware of the risks by not reading the booklet altogether. Others struggling with Vicodin abuseunderstand the risks but are unwilling/unable to stop.

It is important to note that it is possible to use Vicodin for pain management and not develop an addiction to Vicodin. There are countless Americans who use the narcotic to manage their pain temporarily and taper off the drug with the help of a physician. It is possible to take Vicodin without it leading to any Vicodin addiction symptoms. Unfortunately, others will abuse the drug without ever seeing a physician. These people use the pills for recreational purposes or borrow drugs from others when they are in pain. Oftentimes, this is done to escape actual physical discomfort, for recreational purposes (to feel high) or to escape reality for a bit; especially because the distribution of Vicodin is so prevalent and access is so easy.

Vicodin Addiction

What It Does to the Brain

When the user first takes Vicodin, it attaches itself to receptors found throughout the body and the brain. It then produces sensations of serenity, relaxation and euphoria. At smaller doses, those feelings are less apparent, making them somewhat easy to ignore. However, most who abuse the narcotic do so at higher dosages, making the pleasurable experience overwhelming. Users will describe the use of the drug as relaxing, peaceful, calm and incredible.

When Addiction Begins

Most people who begin to develop an addiction to Vicodin are unable to appreciate the symptoms of Vicodin addiction. They may believe that they are able to stop using at any time, but are unaware of how difficult Vicodin withdrawal symptoms can make stopping. As users become accustomed to having the narcotic in their system, the body begins to need higher and higher doses of the drug just to feel ‘normal’. The user begins to notice that not having access to the drug means experiencing Vicodin withdrawal. Without the drug, they may experience chills, sweat profusely and become nauseous.

The Effects of Vicodin

The short-term effect of Vicodin abuse is a slight euphoric sensation and the relief from pain. It can also lead to feelings of drowsiness, extreme relaxation and lethargy. Most people report that it is increasingly difficult to concentrate or focus while taking the drug. It may even cause mild sensations of fear or anxiety.

The Side Effects of Using

When it comes to users taking Vicodin, there are a number of different side effects. These are quite common for opiate medications, but may be indicative of a problem.

A few examples include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inability to focus
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Rash
  • Dry throat
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Unusual moods

The Long-Term Effects

As previously mentioned, the body is going to need a constant increase in the amount of the drug in order to achieve the same desired effects as before. The longer that the user lives with Vicodin abuse, the greater the daily dosage needs to be. If this continues unchecked without withdrawal from Vicodin, it certainly increases the risk of long-term liver damage (due to the acetaminophen) or a potentially fatal Vicodin overdose.

A Vicodin Overdose

One of the reasons it is important to seek out Vicodin addiction withdrawal is because of the potential dangers of an overdose.

The opioid component in Vicodin can lead to a number of adverse reactions, including:

  • Blackouts
  • Seizures
  • Amnesia
  • Coma
  • Jaundice
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Pulmonary failure
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure

The dangers increase exponentially if someone combines Vicodin with other drugs like barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methylphenidate, amphetamines, cocaine and alcohol. Unfortunately, experimenting with other drugs in combination with Vicodin is one of the signs of Vicodin addiction. This is often done in order to increase the high. The most dangerous problem that occurs when someone overdoses on Vicodin is that the person’s breathing becomes so shallow that eventually it may just stop altogether. If you notice that someone who you believe may have taken a Vicodin overdose has extremely small pupils, note that this is a telltale sign of an overdose and you should call 9-1-1 immediately.

Finding Help for Vicodin Addiction

If you think you or someone you care about struggles with an addiction to Vicodin, it is imperative that you get help as quickly as possible. Even though there are inpatient and outpatient programs available, statistically speaking the residential (inpatient) Vicodin rehab programs have a far greater success rate. It is important to understand that Vicodin detox is an important part of the process, not a recovery process onto itself. Too many people enroll, go through detox, and then consider themselves cured. Quality Vicodin addiction treatment is going to take more than a few weeks.

It is also important that the user understands why he or she became addicted to Vicodin in the first place. The Vicodin addiction symptoms are often a part of an underlying unhappiness or an unmet need that must be addressed. If you believe that you or someone close to you needs Vicodin withdrawal help, remember that help is available. The only thing that you need to do is pick up the phone and call.