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Vicodin Addiction: Signs, Effects, & Treatment

image of woman representing vicodin addiction

Vicodin addiction can result from sustained use of this opioid painkiller. Vicodin contains a mixture of hydrocodone (a strong opioid painkiller) and acetaminophen (a mild OTC painkiller). The medication is indicated to alleviate moderate or severe pain.

Why is Vicodin Addictive?

Like all Schedule II controlled substances, it is possible to become addicted to Vicodin. For those wondering how addictive is Vicodin, its abuse potential largely stems from the rewarding and euphoric effects the medication triggers.

The long-term use of any opioid like Vicodin causes tolerance to build, meaning that the effects of the medication diminish. Many people increase consumption to counter tolerance, a form of Vicodin abuse that accelerates the development of Vicodin dependency. Those who become dependent on opioids will experience withdrawal symptoms in their absence. Addiction often but not always follows.

Vicodin Addiction Signs

There are many telltale signs of Vicodin addiction. If you are concerned about opioid use, consider the following Vicodin addiction symptoms that are outlined in DSM-5-TR (the fifth revised edition of American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

  1. Taking Vicodin in larger amounts or for longer than intended.
  2. Wanting to cut down or control Vicodin use but being unsuccessful in doing so.
  3. Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of Vicodin.
  4. Cravings for Vicodin.
  5. Failing to fulfill personal or professional commitments due to Vicodin use.
  6. Continued Vicodin use even though it is causing or worsening interpersonal problems.
  7. Giving up important activities because of opioid use.
  8. Using Vicodin in potentially hazardous situations.
  9. Continued Vicodin use despite knowing it is causing or inflaming a physical or psychological problem.
  10. Tolerance, meaning that more Vicodin is required to achieve the original effects.
  11. Withdrawal symptoms manifesting upon discontinuation.

The above Vicodin abuse symptoms are used to diagnose the severity of Vicodin addiction (mild, moderate, or severe). Vicodin addiction is clinically described as opioid use disorder.

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What Are the Side Effects of Vicodin Addiction?

Using any opioid like Vicodin is associated with a battery of short-term and long-term effects.

Short-Term Effects of Vicodin

Short-term use of Vicodin, even when prescribed, can lead to various side effects, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting: Vicodin use can cause stomach upset, leading to feelings of nausea and vomiting.
  • Dizziness: Many people experience dizziness or lightheadedness while using Vicodin.
  • Constipation: Opioid medications like Vicodin are known to slow down the digestive system, often resulting in constipation.
  • Slowed breathing: Vicodin can depress the CNS (central nervous system), leading to slowed breathing. This effect can be particularly dangerous.
  • Impaired judgment: The drug can impair cognitive function and decision-making, leading to poor judgment.
  • Confusion: People often feel disoriented or confused while under the influence of Vicodin.
  • Profound drowsiness: Vicodin often induces extreme drowsiness, affecting a person’s alertness.
  • Loss of consciousness: In severe cases, excessive Vicodin use can lead to loss of consciousness.

Long-Term Effects of Vicodin

Long-term Vicodin use, especially when it turns into addiction – opioid use disorder – can trigger more severe and lasting effects, including:

  • Brain changes: Prolonged Vicodin use can lead to alterations in brain structure and function.
  • Depression: Opioid addiction can contribute to the development of depression and other mental health conditions.
  • Respiratory issues: Chronic use may exacerbate respiratory problems, especially in high doses.
  • Organ damage: Vicodin abuse can harm various organs, including the liver, due to the presence of acetaminophen.
  • Tolerance and dependence: Over time, individuals may develop a tolerance to Vicodin, requiring higher doses for the same effects, and become dependent on the substance.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Attempting to quit Vicodin can lead to withdrawal symptoms, making it challenging to stop using the medication.
  • Overdose: Vicodin overdose can be life-threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency. The timely administration of naloxone (Narcan) can reverse the effects of a Vicodin overdose.

Vicodin Addiction Treatment

Vicodin addiction requires professional treatment to streamline sustained recovery. If someone has been taking Vicodin for an extended period or at high doses, medical detox may be necessary to safely manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce the chance of relapse in early recovery.

MAT (medication-assisted treatment) may also be beneficial throughout ongoing treatment for opioid addiction. MAT involves the use of medications like buprenorphine or methadone to help manage cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms. This approach is especially effective for opioid addiction and always most beneficial when combined with behavioral therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

Inpatient rehab programs require individuals to stay at a treatment facility for 30 to 90 days or more. This provides a highly structured environment with medical supervision, therapy, counseling, and support to address addiction comprehensively.

Outpatient programs offer more flexibility, allowing individuals to attend treatment sessions while living at home. Outpatient treatment is also much more affordable and suitable for those with less severe addictions or for anyone transitioning from inpatient care.

Individual and group therapy sessions are core components of Vicodin addiction treatment. These sessions help people understand the underlying reasons behind their addiction and develop coping strategies for the future.

Many opioid addiction treatment programs incorporate holistic approaches such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to address the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of addiction.

Joining support groups like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) can provide ongoing support and a sense of community during recovery.

A fundamental part of successful treatment is developing an aftercare plan to support individuals in maintaining sobriety after leaving formal treatment programs. Reach out to Drug Rehabs Centers for immediate assistance.

a man celebrating getting vicodin addiction treatment

Find Treatment for Vicodin Addiction at Drug Rehabs Centers

If you are looking to initiate recovery from Vicodin addiction in Southern California, we can help you connect with reputable rehabs throughout the region. Reach out to Drug Rehab Centers today and we can help you find the most suitable treatment centers near you.

For those who are dependent on alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medications, withdrawal can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Supervised medical detoxification streamlines the process while mitigating complications and reducing the chance of relapse derailing early recovery.

After detoxification, options for ongoing treatment include:

You can contact Drug Rehab Centers online or call 844.739.2005 for immediate assistance.

Juan Bonnet
Author: Juan Bonnet

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