September 5th, 2023
The opioid crisis remains an ongoing global catastrophe, causing untold death and suffering worldwide. While the crisis isn’t as extensive in the UK as in the US, a significant number of people are still struggling with opioid addiction, including substances such as Vicodin. Vicodin addiction can wreak havoc on lives, tearing apart families and causing enormous harm. While overcoming Vicodin addiction can be incredibly challenging, it is achievable with professional help and the motivation to make meaningful changes.
What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a prescription painkiller combining hydrocodone, an opioid and paracetamol, a less potent pain reliever that boosts the hydrocodone’s effects. Vicodin is typically prescribed to manage severe pain, like post-surgery or for chronic conditions. Vicodin comes in different forms, including tablets and liquid and works by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors found in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract. Doing this blocks pain signals on their way to the brain. However, this process can also produce a euphoric ‘high,’ leading some to misuse or abuse the medication.
What is Vicodin addiction?
Vicodin addiction is characterised by the inability to control or stop using the drug despite adverse consequences. This addiction can develop in various ways. Some start using Vicodin recreationally to experience its euphoric effects, gradually requiring higher doses as tolerance builds up. Others may begin with a legitimate prescription, but over time, they start to misuse it, taking more than the prescribed dosage or using it for longer than recommended. Finally, some people may use Vicodin to self-medicate, using it to cope with stress, anxiety or other mental health issues, which can quickly lead to addiction.
What are the signs of Vicodin addiction?
Recognising Vicodin addiction can be challenging, particularly if you were originally prescribed the medication for genuine pain. The actress Winona Ryder, who has had well-publicised struggles with prescription drug addiction, including Vicodin, explained:
“Have you ever taken painkillers? There is this weird point when you don’t know if you are in pain, but you’re still taking them. It isn’t a reckless [state] like you’re out of your head. It’s just confusion.“
Here are some questions which can help you overcome this confusion and which could point to Vicodin addiction signs:
- Do you find yourself thinking about Vicodin frequently?
- Have you tried and failed to stop using Vicodin?
- Do you use Vicodin even when there are negative consequences?
- Are you taking more Vicodin than prescribed or using it without a prescription?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Vicodin?
- Have you lost interest in activities you once enjoyed because of your Vicodin use?
- Are you spending a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from the effects of Vicodin?
- Has your tolerance to Vicodin increased, requiring you to take more to achieve the same effects?
Answering “yes” to these questions could indicate Vicodin addiction signs and should prompt you to seek professional help.
Underlying causes of Vicodin addiction
Several risk factors can significantly increase the likelihood of developing a Vicodin addiction:
- Genetics: Research indicates that genetics plays a substantial role in the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder. If you have a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, who struggles with substance abuse, you may be genetically predisposed to also having such issues, including Vicodin addiction.
- Environment: Environmental factors can significantly contribute to the onset of Vicodin addiction. This includes living in a stressful or chaotic environment, exposure to trauma and the lack of a supportive network. High-stress levels can lead individuals to seek relief through substances like Vicodin, while a lack of positive coping mechanisms can make this behaviour more likely.
- Mental health conditions: People struggling with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be more prone to addiction. These conditions can lead to self-medication behaviours, with Vicodin providing temporary relief from distressing symptoms. However, in the long term, this can exacerbate the mental health condition and lead to Vicodin addiction.
- Previous substance abuse: If you have a history of abusing other substances, you are at an increased risk of Vicodin addiction, as this previous substance abuse can indicate a predisposition towards addictive behaviours.
- Early exposure: Early exposure to opioids, whether through medical prescription or recreational use, significantly increases the risk of Vicodin addiction. The developing brain is particularly susceptible to the effects of drugs, and early use can establish patterns that lead to future substance abuse.
How can you overcome Vicodin addiction?
Vicodin addiction treatment is a multi-stage process that requires professional intervention. The journey to recovery often starts with detoxification, a medical process that aims to eliminate the drug from your body safely. During detox, withdrawal symptoms can be intense and, in some cases, life-threatening, making it important to be medically monitored throughout.
Alongside this, rehab provides comprehensive therapy and counselling sessions which not only help you stop using Vicodin but also address the underlying issues that led to Vicodin addiction. Through this comprehensive approach, it is possible to overcome Vicodin addiction and achieve permanent sobriety.
What are the effects of Vicodin addiction?
Vicodin addiction can have a broad range of severe health effects. These effects can manifest both physically and mentally and may include:
- Liver damage or failure: One of the primary risks of long-term Vicodin use is liver damage. This occurs because Vicodin contains acetaminophen, which in high doses can overwhelm the liver’s ability to process it safely, leading to liver toxicity. Over time, this can cause severe liver damage or even acute liver failure, a life-threatening condition.
- Respiratory problems or failure: Hydrocodone, the opioid component in Vicodin, can depress the central nervous system, which controls breathing. This can lead to slow, shallow breathing, reducing oxygen levels in the blood. Over time, this can cause respiratory distress or failure, especially during sleep or if Vicodin is combined with other substances.
- Mental health issues: Chronic Vicodin use can lead to mental health issues as the temporary euphoria from the drug can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety as it wears off. The struggle of dealing with Vicodin addiction can also contribute to stress, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness or despair.
- Digestive issues: Opioids like hydrocodone slow down the digestive system, leading to issues like constipation, abdominal bloating and nausea. Over time, these issues can become chronic and may lead to more serious conditions like bowel obstruction.
- Sleep disturbances: Vicodin addiction can also lead to sleep disturbances, including insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns. Over time, this can contribute to fatigue, mood changes and problems with memory and concentration.
- Decreased immunity: Long-term Vicodin use can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and illnesses. This can be particularly concerning for individuals who use Vicodin non-medically or who share drug paraphernalia, which can expose them to diseases like HIV and hepatitis.
Vicodin addiction can also have devastating effects on other aspects of your life, including:
- Strained relationships due to behavioural changes
- Financial difficulties from the cost of maintaining a Vicodin addiction
- Legal troubles from possession or attempting to obtain Vicodin illegally
- Employment issues, such as job loss or difficulty finding work
- Social isolation as a result of Vicodin addiction
What is Vicodin overdose?
A Vicodin overdose occurs when you ingest too much of the drug for your body to metabolise, leading to potentially life-threatening effects safely. This is particularly dangerous because of the two active ingredients in Vicodin: hydrocodone and paracetamol.
When you overdose on Vicodin, the hydrocodone can depress your central nervous system to dangerous levels. This can slow or even stop your breathing, depriving your brain and other organs of the oxygen they need to function. This can lead to unconsciousness, brain damage and potentially death.
Simultaneously, excessive paracetamol can overwhelm your liver’s ability to process it safely, leading to liver toxicity or failure. This can occur even in a single, large dose, but the risk is also significant for those who take high doses over a prolonged period.
Preventing a Vicodin overdose is primarily about using the drug safely and responsibly. This means following the prescribed dosage and never using Vicodin without a prescription. It is also essential to avoid combining Vicodin with other substances—especially alcohol, other opioids or sedatives, which can intensify the drug’s effects and increase the risk of overdose.
Getting help for Vicodin addiction
Overcoming Vicodin addiction is not a journey you should take alone. At Oasis Runcorn, our team of professionals will support you through every stage of the recovery journey, helping you reclaim your life from Vicodin addiction. If you’re ready to make a meaningful change in your life and build a future without Vicodin, contact us today.