Hydrocodone addiction is a growing crisis in the United States. Illegal drugs like marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin stay in the headlines, and many people might be surprised to know that Hydrocodone addiction is lurking right behind them to become one of the most widely abused drugs of addiction. In fact, in the last ten years, Hydrocodone use has quadrupled with its abuse rates soaring up by 500 percent.
Vicodin is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from codeine. It contains hydrocodone and is used medically as an analgesic to treat moderate to severe pain. There are several narcotic painkillers available in the United States, and the most common opioids containing hydrocodone are Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab.
Hydrocodone painkillers are always mixed with another medication, most often acetaminophen, and is approximately 1.5 times less potent than oxycodone. Typically, Vicodin begins to take effect within 20-30 minutes and can last between 4-8 hours. The three different types of hydrocodone opioids vary in slight ways, but all have medical uses, and all are equally addictive.
- A mixture of hydrocodone and acetaminophen
- Used to relieve moderate to severe pain
- Contains 500 mg of acetaminophen and 5 mg of hydrocodone
- A mixture of hydrocodone and acetaminophen
- Contains 325 mg of acetaminophen and 7.5 mg of hydrocodone or 325 mg of acetaminophen and 10 mg of hydrocodone
- Used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain
- Intended to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain
- Lortab comes in 4 strengths:
- 10 mg hydrocodone and 500 mg acetaminophen
- 2.5 mg hydrocodone and 500 mg acetaminophen
- 7.5 mg hydrocodone and 500 mg acetaminophen
- 5.0 mg hydrocodone and 500 mg acetaminophen
Vicodin Addiction Phases
Vicodin, like all other opioids, produces a euphoria in users that changes the brain’s perception of pain, making it more manageable in an individual who is suffering from moderate to severe pain.
When an individual takes Vicodin, he or she will likely feel a warm sensation throughout the body followed by a euphoric feeling that can last for hours. This effect is very addictive and can be the start of a dangerous addiction. There are several phases to the development of a Vicodin addiction.
- First Use of Vicodin Vicodin may be prescribed for pain, taken recreationally during a social event, or offered by a friend or associate. Regardless of how a person is introduced to Vicodin, the effects are euphoric and instantly stimulate the reward center of the brain, which interprets the stimulation as the result of an important and life sustaining action. This is the same process that prompts repetition of naturally pleasurable behaviors like eating and having sex. With the brain’s natural mechanisms at work to reinforce repetition of the causal behavior of the pleasure (taking Vicodin), an individual is automatically prompted to take more.
- Taking Vicodin non-medically
The decision to take more Vicodin without medical justification for the first time is typically the very beginning of a developing addiction, although most are unaware of the dangerous situation they may be creating. Despite the common naivety, taking Vicodin for the purpose of feeling its euphoric effects, rather than for managing pain, is the definition of abusing the drug. Once Vicodin abuse has begun, tolerance begins to grow, which requires more Vicodin to achieve the same effects.
- Abusing Vicodin to sustain addiction
Once tolerance to Vicodin has begun to grow, an addict will need more of the drug in order to avoid feeling withdrawal symptoms (referred to as “dope sick”), which can occur without any Vicodin or dosages sufficient enough to maintain the addiction. This process is usually two-fold, which includes an addict using enough Vicodin to avoid becoming dope sick, then using more to get high. Unfortunately, this process only results in a higher tolerance, thereby requiring repetition of increasing doses to avoid withdrawal, and more to get high. This vicious cycle is what often drives addicts to begin intravenous administration of Vicodin, or moving to stronger forms of opiates to get a more intense high from a single dosage.
- Engaging in desperate acts to obtain Vicodin
Once addicted to Vicodin, addicts may engage in bizarre and risky behavior in attempts to obtain the drug and sustain their addiction. In addition to feeling as though they “need” the drug to get by and feel normal, most Vicodin addicts are in constant fear of withdrawal symptoms. For these reasons, addicts have done some deplorable things and degraded themselves in ways they would have never imagined prior to addiction.
Once addiction has developed, an individual may exhibit several signs that indicate his or her condition. As addiction worsens, these signs can become more apparent to those surrounding the addict. Typically, the following are signs that may be present in a individual who has developed an addiction to Vicodin:
- Utilizing illegal means to obtain more Vicodin
- Change in appearance and hygiene habits
- Frequently appearing intoxicated
- Inappropriate use of Vicodin (i.e. crushing and snorting or injecting the drug)
- Abusing other, more potent opiates like oxycodone, heroin or fentanyl
- Loss of interest in activities and events that were once engaging and enjoyable
- Mood swings
- Withdrawal when no Vicodin is available
- Legal troubles (such as DUI, possession, public intoxication)
- Unexplained financial trouble
Most of the aforementioned signs of Vicodin addiction can be applied to any addiction, as the most unmanageable part of addiction is the behaviors associated with it.
Vicodin Detox and Treatment
Any individual addicted to Vicodin, and seeking help to find sobriety and recovery, must first go through detox to remove the drugs from his or her system. Because Vicodin is an opiate, it produces a physical and psychological dependence in an addict that can create some grueling and painful withdrawal symptoms when its use is stopped. While these symptoms are not life-threatening, they are among the most uncomfortable, and are often a primary reason why a Vicodin addict may refuse help. Some of the symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal are:
- Cold sweats
- High fever
- Abdominal pains
- Muscle pain and spasms
- Cold, clammy skin
- Intense cravings
Depending on the individual and the length and severity of his or her addiction, Vicodin detox may take from 5-14 days. In the circumstance of a tapered detox, this time period may be longer, and could take up to 21 days. Rapid opiate detox is also available, and this process is typically completed in as little as 48 hours. The method of detox is an individual choice, and should be discussed in a medical consultation prior to engaging in any process.
Once detox has been completed, it may be necessary for a Vicodin addict to enter addiction treatment. It is always recommended that an addict get some form of addiction counseling or treatment, the intensity of which is contingent on the nature and severity of the addiction. One of the most important things addicts learn in addiction treatment is how to live their lives as sober individuals and recognize the dangerous people, places and things around them that may be triggers for relapse. Detox alone is not enough to break the cycle of Vicodin addiction, and should always be followed with some kind of treatment to ensure the prevention of relapse.
If you, or someone you love is currently suffering from a Vicodin addiction, please call us now to speak with a trained counselor about your situation and concerns. At addiction-resource.com, we understand the challenges of Vicodin addiction, and pain and devastation associated with it. You are not alone. Millions of people struggle with this addiction, and millions have received the help they need for it.
Call us now, and we will work with you to determine the most effective method and level of care for yourself or your addicted loved one, based on needs, preferences, and spiritual beliefs. Vicodin is a dangerous drug, and addiction to it is progressive, so please don’t wait until it is too late. Call us now, and let us help you get on the path to recovery. Help is just one phone call away.