Vicodin, one of the most popular painkillers on the market today, has become widely used within the United States since its main introduction in the 1980’s. Since the drug is easily accessible and used as one of the go-to painkillers by many medical professionals in the country, its usage is widespread. By these means, the addiction to vicodin by its users is also becoming more and more of a problem. Its abuse by street users also became more rampant.
Since the drug contains a chemical known as acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), users gain a slowly growing tolerance to the drug and require more and more to produce the same effect they had upon first using the substance. In large doses and over prolonged usage, acetaminophen can eventually cause liver damage. This in addition to the damage caused by hydrocodone, which is liver and kidney damage.
As a result of the nature of Vicodin, in 2009, a Federal advisory panel convened and recommended to the FDA that Vicodin be removed from the market entirely due to its potent nature and widespread addiction rates within the country.
A Brief History of Vicodin
As reported by NY Magazine in July 2009, Vicodin is derived from hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen was first synthesized in 1893 and is derived from a product produced via coal-tar distillation. Hydrocodone was first synthesized by the German pharmaceutical company Knoll in 1920. Eventually, acetaminophen was brought into the United States under the name Tylenol, and was only available in small doses for children. The adult version was finally brought in six years later.
In 1978, Knoll combined the two ingredients and created what was to become known as Vicodin, which was introduced into the United States in its generic version in 1983.
Since its introduction, the drug has grown and grown in its popularity and usage, and beginning in 2002, the danger was beginning to become noticed as more and more emergency room visits are related to the effects of hydrocodone. The frequency of these events had been reported to increase 500% since 1990. In the same year, the Federal Drug Administration came forth and advised that stronger warnings be put on drugs containing acetaminophen over fears of widespread liver damage. In 2006, 130 million Vicodin prescriptions were written across the country.
Symptoms of Vicodin Addiction
Vicodin is highly addictive and the dependency upon the drug can occur rather quickly, especially if the pain it is being used to remedy is chronic and ongoing. In such a case, the need for the drug is obvious, but in its usage to remedy pain, dependency will form and last long past the pain it is working on has disappeared. It has been speculated that the addicted part of the brain actually gives the addict an illusion of increased pain (where little to none may actually exist, AKA “phantom” pain) thereby justifying to the addict increased intake of the drug to which they are addicted.
Here are the signs that a Vicodin dependency has begun in the user:
- Appearing Drowsy
- An Inability to Focus on a Given Task
- Extreme Anxiety And/Or Paranoia
- Severe Mood Swings
- Nausea or Vomiting
- An Obsession to Procure More Vicodin
Vicodin abusers can consume, in the more extreme cases, up to 20 to 30 pills a day- they will, as some recovering addicts have referred to it as, “eat it like candy.” They may also begin to seek fraudulent or illegal means to acquire the drug, such as “doctor shopping” where they look around to find a medical professional who will give it to them with little to no questions asked. They may also try to find someone else who already has the drug, perhaps via the black market, and get it that way.
As a result of this obsession to get more and more Vicodin, the rest of their life takes the back seat, and their financial, personal and professional lives will begin to fall apart.
Aside from the behavioral and psychological, the physical effects of Vicodin abuse can be apparent early on, and eventually lead to severe medical issues. Certain side effects from Vicodin abuse include itching all over the body, swelling in certain areas, general weakness, dizziness, difficulty urinating, constipation, flu-like symptoms, and upset stomach or vomiting. These symptoms are also included as general side effects from Vicodin usage, however when it comes to the abuse thereof, these symptoms are much more pronounced and frequent.
If taken for an extended amount of time at a high frequency, Vicodin addiction can also cause severe liver damage, urinary problems, liver failure and/or jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes which indicates liver damage.
Vicodin withdrawals can take a wide range of forms, both physical and mental, after someone stops using the drug after heavy, prolonged usage. The withdrawals are familiar to the same types of withdrawals one can have after stopping other opiates such as heroin, methadone, morphine and codeine.
As reported by About.com, the severity of the withdrawal effects are equal to the level of addiction that the person has experienced. It can take only but a few weeks of heavy usage to cause withdrawal effects to become possible if the user decides to quit or cut back (quitting entirely being the more recommended alternative). This can happen even if the person who is using Vicodin has taken it just as prescribed; it varies from person to person, from different biological make-up to different biological make-up.
Again, the severity of the withdrawal symptoms from Vicodin dependency are generally based on the amount taken over what span of time- the more taken over a longer period of time means stronger and more severe withdrawals versus someone who took the drug lightly over a short amount of time. This is not to say that everyone who takes any level of Vicodin will go through withdrawal symptoms, and not everyone who is addicted has necessarily procured it illegally. Many addicted are using the drug as prescribed.
The withdrawals themselves are not dangerous and life-threatening, although it surely may feel that way. Withdrawals can begin as early as 6 hours after the last intake of Vicodin all the way up to around 30 hours. Such symptoms include:
- Muscle Aches
- Increased tearing (watery eyes)
- Runny Nose
- Excessive Yawning
Over time, withdrawals become worse in their form:
- Abdominal Cramping
- Dilated Pupils
- Goose Bumps
- Nausea or Vomiting
Again, these withdrawals are not lethal or permanently damaging, but they can cause certain complications such as aspiration (when vomit gets into the lungs and begins decomposing) or choking from vomiting, and dehydration from the vomiting and diarrhea combination. Withdrawals can last from a few days to around a week, and if they go on for longer than 1 week, the person should seek medical attention.
The biggest danger to someone detoxing off of Vicodin comes when they decide to start taking the substance again. After a short period of time, the tolerance the body has to the drug decreases more and more. But when someone starts off taking their drug of choice again after any period of abstinence, they tend to dive right back into it at the level that they were previously consuming. So, this plus the bodies lowered tolerance means that overdosing is a strong, and dangerous, possibility.
Opioid Replacement Therapy
There are several different ways to detox from opiates like OxyContin, heroin, morphine, Dilaudid, and Vicodin, one of which is called the Opioid Replacement Therapy. Opioid Replacement Therapy is the process in which one stops taking the illicit or powerful opiate substance they are currently taking and replaces it with a milder, longer-acting substance in order to wean the body off of the dependence and into the realm of zero dependence.
The most common form of opioid (sometimes referred to as a narcotic) replacement is a substance called Methadone. As reported by Drugs.com, methadone is also a painkiller and an opiate, but it is much milder and longer-acting than the substances that it is helping one to wean off of. If taken as prescribed and under medical attention, methadone can eventually be weaned off of as well and the person should become addiction free at the end of the process.
In addition to an opioid replacement, a drug called Clonidine (a drug typically used for hypertension and high blood pressure) may be used to help ease the pain brought on by Vicodin withdrawals by way of providing remedy to anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose and cramping.
Treatment and Detox for Vicodin
Aside from the aforementioned physical withdrawals, there are strong psychological withdrawals as well, and the chance for relapse when coming off of Vicodin is high. As a result, a detoxification center is the best choice for someone who is trying to kick their Vicodin addiction.
It is recommended that one take into account what the severity of the addiction is, as well as what the home living and financial situations might be. It is recommended that the addict talk to doctors, friends and others whom have also gotten rid of their opiate addictions as to what is the right course of action.
There are several ways to get rid of a Vicodin habit, the least recommended would be to try and do it alone. There are drug rehabilitation centers, both inpatient and outpatient, as well as 12-step and other kinds of support groups.
Inpatient detox programs are recommended for people who are highly addicted to Vicodin, have been taking it for a long time and are showing strong signs of physical problems due to their addiction. There, the addict will be supervised for 24-hours a day and will be guided by medical personnel through the physical withdrawals, which can last up to a month in time. The drug must be completely out of the system before any kind of emotional and psychological healing may be allowed to begin- someone cannot begin to contemplate and heal their mind before the body has begun its own natural recovery process and the head is clear.
Outpatient Treatment Programs
Outpatient programs are not for everyone, and are usually recommended for people who are not as severely addicted to Vicodin and aren’t yet displaying any kind of severe physical symptoms. The outpatient programs are usually carried out through the same facilities that the inpatient programs are, and if one were to take the inpatient program route, they would not be left stranded afterwards. An outpatient program has someone show up to the facility and work with counselors and doctors, as well as going to support groups, by day and return home during the evening.
If the addict has a strong home life and a caring network of family and friends, as well as a strong resolve to kick their habit, then an outpatient program can work. Leaving the safety of a detox facility and going home at night can lead to the temptation to use again, because the old networks and people whom the user was using with or getting their supply from can still be there.
Recovering from an opiate addiction is a life long process, and some cannot simply leave the support of a facility after all programs are completed and be alright. The aura of recovery can last for a while, but not forever.
After both of the in- and outpatient treatment programs have been completed, there are still more avenues for recovery that are available. Counselors who work in treatment facilities help their patients create individual treatment plans for themselves upon leaving. It is also recommended that the patient attend some kind of a 12-step program or support group to further their recovery and diminish the feeling of being alone in their affliction.
More Information On Vicodin Addiction
Vicodin addiction is an extremely powerful disease that affects the lives of many Americans each year; however, with proper treatment vicodin addiction can be overcome.
In recent years prescription drug abuse and addiction has been on the rise, but denial around the issue of addiction also continues to persist. Drug addiction is the obsessive-compulsive misuse of a mood-altering drug. In this sense, misuse means using the drug without the authorization of a medical profession, or using the drug when it is no longer needed as prescribed. Vicodin abuse can have devastating effects on a person's mind and body.
Prescription drug addiction, and vicodin addiction in particular, is very problematic since originally the drugs were prescribed by a doctor. In many cases people who have become addicted to vicodin are in denial that they have a problem and they rationalize their use by saying things like, "I'm taking it for the pain", or "the doctor said I could take a few extra".
Vicodin Side Effects
Vicodin produces a euphoric feeling, relaxing both the physical body and the mind, as well as relieving pain. Vicodin abuse is extremely common among prescription drug users, most likely because it is readily prescribed for many different types of pain problems.
Some prescription drug users do not intend to get hooked on the medicine, but when their prescription runs out they begin to obsess about how they are going to obtain more and more of the drug. Vicodin addicts find that they cannot longer function normally without the drug and that even though the pain is gone, vicodin produces an effect in them that they feel they cannot live without. People suffering from vicodin addiction start looking to outside sources for more prescriptions and are willing to go to great lengths to get more drugs.
Vicodin addiction is often seen a less serious condition than addiction to illicit street drugs or alcohol. This is because vicodin is prescribed by a physician and also because vicodin is not seen as causing the same negative problems as other drugs. This misconception often leads vicodin addicts and their loved ones to believe that they do not need to seek treatment.
Mind Altering Substances
All mind altering substances affect the way that the brain functions, and in the case of vicodin, the brain stops producing chemicals like endorphins. Because the brain has stopped producing these essential chemicals, the body feels that it is unable to function without the use of the drug. A person who suffers from vicodin addiction has become dependent upon the drug and will go into withdrawal and cravings if he/she cannot acquire anymore.
Vicodin abuse affects the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of a person's life. In addiction can tear apart families, ruin relationships and leave lives in shambles without proper vicodin rehab. Many people who are addicted to vicodin want to stop but find that they are unable to live without the drug and must enter a rehabilitation center in order to stop. By understanding the devious nature of vicodin addiction, helping yourself or someone you love is a much easier task.
Freedom from vicodin addiction is possible. Seeking drug abuse treatment is the best course of action for anyone who has a problem with drugs or alcohol. During the initial phase of vicodin addiction treatment, the addict will undergo the detoxification process, to cleanse the physical body of the drug and make the person ready for further treatment. Our treatment facilities will give the addict tools and resources to live without the use of vicodin.
If you or someone you love has a vicodin addiction, there is hope. At Recovery Now TV, we offer the best in drug addiction and alcoholism treatment programs. Our serene environment, trained specialists and highly successful treatment methods help to ensure lasting sobriety. Please give us a call; a new life is just a phone call away.
Choosing a Facility
Questions to ask when choosing a rehab program for drug addiction:
If this is your first time seeking treatment for vicodin abuse for yourself or a loved one, it would be helpful to know which questions to ask when searching for possible programs. RecoveryNowTV.com will guide you in making the most appropriate decision based on your individual needs.
When researching vicodin addiction treatment programs, consider the questions below to help guide you to making the most appropriate decision for treatment:
Will the facility work with your health insurance company?
If you have health insurance, please click here or scroll to the bottom of the page to access the complete Insurance Guidance Information page.
Where is the facility located?
Oftentimes facilities will urge you to travel out of your area to receive treatment. Consider the list of pros and cons below for traveling out of the area for treatment.
Treatment out of the area-
- Getting out of the area for vicodin addiction treatment will help an addict to focus on themselves rather than their familiar surroundings.
- Going out of the area for vicodin addiction rehab creates a mindset where a client is taking a journey for their recovery.
- If the going gets tough in treatment, a distance between the home and the treatment facility might affect a person's decision to not give up and to stay in treatment.
- Going to a vicodin recovery program out of the area puts distance between you and your loved ones. Most treatment programs offer a family component and a long distance could make it difficult for supportive family and friends to participate in the treatment program.
- Going to a vicodin recovery program out of the area might make it difficult to return to the home environment. If you choose to go out of the area for treatment, it is crucial to make sure that the treatment facility has a discharge planning process which includes assistance in finding outpatient and Twelve Step Support systems for when you return home.
What governing body is the treatment facility licensed through?
All vicodin recovery programs providing therapeutic services and treatment planning, must be licensed by a State governing body. If one of the facilities that you are considering is NOT part of the RecoveryNowTV network, then you will need to make sure that the facility is licensed through the state.
Is the facility accredited?
If so, what is the accreditation agency governing the facility? Accreditation is a true sign of a quality and safety assurance plan for a facility. While accreditation is not mandatory for a facility, it does provide a higher level of standards for a facility to adhere to. The two major accrediting bodies are The Joint Commission (JCAHO) and Commission on Accreditation of Addiction recovery Facilities (CARF). Both accrediting organizations ensure that the facility actively participates in rigorous quality and safety improvement protocols.
What does a typical day entail?
Ask the vicodin recovery facility go through the daily schedule and feel free to ask questions of each item on the schedule. This will give you an understanding of all of the services offered. This will allow you to take full advantage of the treatment protocols being offered.
What is the price of the treatment?
Are there additional costs over and above the stated cost? Is there a daily rate? Is there an early termination policy?
Is there an extended care program?
When searching for a vicodin recovery facility, if time and your schedule permits, it is recommended that you enter an extended care program or a structured sober living environment. This will ensure that the re-entry back into daily living is a safe transition. Many programs offer a step-down or sober living program which includes mandatory Twelve Step participation, curfews, and drug testing.
Is there a program in place for relapse?
It is important to know if the addiction recovery program will support you during a relapse. Many programs have relapse prevention or a refresher course in case of a relapse. Although many people do not want to consider readmitting to a treatment facility, it is important to know that your treatment program will support you if you have a relapse.