Vicodin is one of the most heavily abused opioid painkillers in the nation today. Hydrocodone-containing medications like Vicodin are also one of three drugs that most commonly cause prescription opioid overdose deaths.

Overcoming Vicodin abuse and addiction is possible with the right combination of treatments and therapies. Comprehensive Vicodin addiction treatment frequently includes both medical detox and rehab programs.

Understanding Vicodin

Vicodin is an opiate (narcotic) analgesic, otherwise known as an opioid pain medication. It is used to treat moderate to severe pain. When used as prescribed by a doctor, Vicodin can be part of an effective pain management program, however, when abused, this medication can be dangerous and addictive.

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Vicodin is a combination medication, that is, it contains two pain-relieving drugs, hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

Hydrocodone, an opioid, has a high potential for abuse and can create severe physical and psychological dependence. For this reason, all types of Vicodin are considered Schedule II drugs by the DEA. While acetaminophen isn’t addictive, abusing medications that contain it do carry risks.

There are three types of Vicodin medications, all of which come in the tablet form:

  • Vicodin, which contains 5 mg of hydrocodone and 300 mg of acetaminophen
  • Vicodin ES, which contains 7.5 mg of hydrocodone and 300 mg of acetaminophen
  • Vicodin HP, which contains 10 mg of hydrocodone and 300 mg of acetaminophen

Hydrocodone-containing medications, such as Vicodin, are prescribed more frequently than any other opiate in the United States, according to the DEA. Of these, Vicodin is one of the top two most frequently prescribed hydrocodone combination products in the US today.

With this widespread use, however, comes a greater possibility of drug diversion, a situation that occurs when Vicodin is sold or given away so that it can be misused or abused.

When Vicodin is used to self-medicate pain or to create a euphoric state, a person is exposing themselves to the risk of addiction, painful withdrawal, overdose, and multiple health and medical problems.

Though most commonly taken orally, people who abuse this drug may also attempt to snort or inject it. Vicodin is frequently abused with alcohol, a behavior that could increase the risk of addiction, overdose, and adverse health effects.

Vicodin Abuse Signs And Symptoms

If a person is abusing Vicodin, they may begin to use a personal prescription in a way other than prescribed. This could include taking larger or more frequent doses. Some people may also alter the drug’s form, such as by crushing it so they can snort it or liquify it for injection.

Another sign of abuse is when a person asks friends, family, or coworkers for their medication or steals Vicodin from loved ones. Purchasing Vicodin off the street can also be a major sign of addiction.

As abuse accelerates into addiction, a person will commonly exhibit the following signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction:

  • Tolerance: The dose of Vicodin a person once used does not create the effects or pleasurable feelings they desire. This often pushes a person to take higher and/or more frequent doses.
  • Cravings: Thoughts of and urges for Vicodin begin to overwhelm most every aspect of a person’s life, to the extent they spend large amounts of time finding and using the drug.
  • Dependence: A person’s body is reliant on Vicodin and cannot work in a normal way without it.
  • Withdrawal: A person who is dependent on Vicodin becomes ill if they suddenly quit or significantly reduce the amount of Vicodin they take.

Vicodin Abuse Short-Term Effects

When a person first takes Vicodin, the pleasurable feelings or pain relief they experience may make them want to take more of the drug. By abusing the drug again to create these effects, they are potentially moving themselves closer to addiction.

Short-term effects of Vicodin abuse can include:

  • confusion
  • constipation
  • drowsiness
  • euphoria
  • impaired judgement
  • nausea
  • poor decision-making skills
  • sedation
  • slowed breathing

Even in the short term, abuse of Vicodin can be dangerous. In situations of abuse, taking opioid painkillers such as Vicodin could lead to coma, heart failure, or death.

Vicodin Abuse Long-Term Effects, Risks, And Dangers

The slowed breathing that results from Vicodin abuse could prevent the brain from receiving the oxygen it needs, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can lead to coma, permanent brain damage, and death.

People who use opioids chronically may have sexual and reproductive problems as well, such as erectile dysfunction, impotence, infertility, low libido, or missed periods.

Pregnant women who abuse opioid drugs like Vicodin could be exposing their unborn child to dangers as well. Mothers who are dependent on Vicodin may give birth to babies who have breathing problems or neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Individuals who abuse prescription opioids may also have a higher risk of abusing heroin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost 8 out of 10 people who abuse heroin abused prescription opioids first.

Vicodin Abuse And Organ Damage

The hydrocodone in Vicodin isn’t the only medication in this drug that poses risks during Vicodin abuse and addiction.

Taking large amounts of acetaminophen either at once or over time can be toxic, dangerous, and very hard on a person’s organs. Taking an excess of 7,000 mg of acetaminophen or more a day could lead to a severe overdose.

While this may seem like a lot, addicted and tolerant individuals who take large quantities of Vicodin each day may take this much or more.

Acetaminophen overdose can cause deadly hepatic necrosis or a sudden and toxic injury to the liver. Individuals who heavily abuse Vicodin could develop severe liver failure that results in death or an emergency liver transplant.

Acetaminophen overdose may also result in a serious kidney disorder called renal tubular necrosis that can lead to acute kidney failure. Circulatory failure, hypoglycemic coma, and problems with blood coagulation may also occur.

Vicodin Overdose Signs

Hydrocodone, including Vicodin, is one of the top three drugs most frequently involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths.

When too much Vicodin is consumed, amounts of the drug can reach toxic levels. This can happen when a person takes a single large dose or too great an amount in a short period of time. Overdose can occur from both hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

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During hydrocodone overdose, a person’s blood pressure may drop and they may have a weak pulse. Their skin may also become cool and clammy and their fingernails and lips may appear bluish.

When a person is overdosing they will likely develop labored, shallow, slowed, and/or stopped breathing. A Vicodin overdose can cause fatal breathing problems or respiratory depression.

As overdose continues, an individual may have seizures, lose consciousness, or slip into a coma.

Additional signs and symptoms of a Vicodin overdose from hydrocodone are:

  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • lightheadedness
  • low blood pressure
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pinpoint pupils
  • stomach spasms
  • weakness

As acetaminophen levels become too high, a person may develop overdose from this medication as well.

Signs of acetaminophen overdose include excessive sweating, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach upset, and vomiting. Liver failure and a yellowing of the eyes and skin, otherwise known as jaundice, may also occur.

Taking Vicodin with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants, such as benzodiazepines, can also increase the risk of overdose. The dangers of mixing Vicodin with alcohol or benzodiazepines can include severe and life-threatening breathing problems.

Vicodin Overdose Treatment

A person could overdose the first time they abuse Vicodin. Individuals who have abused Vicodin for long periods of time can also overdose. While not all overdoses are fatal, a Vicodin overdose can be a medical emergency that results in death without the proper treatments.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of a Vicodin overdose could save a life. By quickly identifying these signs, emergency medical treatment can be sought.

When caught quickly enough, opioid overdose can be reversed with the naloxone nasal spray Narcan. This potentially life-saving medication may be available at pharmacies in certain states and is also used by emergency medical services.

Other medical treatments and tests will also be administered to stabilize a person at this time.

Vicodin Withdrawal Signs And Symptoms

When a person quits taking Vicodin “cold turkey,” or without gradually reducing their dose over time, they may develop withdrawal and become sick. Some individuals may also feel this way if they reduce their typical dose by a substantial amount.

Vicodin withdrawal may cause a person’s body to hurt, creating such symptoms as backache and joint and muscle pain. Without the drug to depress it, a person’s central nervous system may react in the opposite way, leading to increased blood pressure, breathing, and heart rates.

Other signs and symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal can include:

  • anxiety
  • chills
  • cravings
  • dilated pupils
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • restlessness
  • runny nose
  • sweating
  • teary eyes
  • yawning

Gastrointestinal distress is also common with Vicodin withdrawal. As this occurs, a person may have abdominal or stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and/or vomiting.

The pain, cravings, and discomfort caused by Vicodin withdrawal could push a person to relapse as a way of avoiding more symptoms. For this reason, detox from Vicodin and other opioids is best treated with medical supervision.

Vicodin Withdrawal And Detox Treatment Programs

Vicodin withdrawal can become severe. For this reason, an outpatient detox program may not be sufficient for many people who need to detox from Vicodin.

The 24-hour care and support offered by an inpatient medical detox program for Vicodin addiction creates a safe and comfortable environment where a person’s body can detox from chronic substance abuse.

By receiving this constant care, a person is able to receive medications and other treatments as soon as they need them. Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is an evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction.

When used as part of a comprehensive medically supervised detox program, Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) and other medications for opioid withdrawal can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Medications are commonly used with behavioral therapies, an approach known as medication-assisted treatment.

If dehydration and malnourishment caused by abuse or withdrawal symptoms is present, nutritional support, vitamin therapy, and hydration therapy may also be used to help a person’s body heal and regain balance.

Finding A Vicodin Drug Rehab Program

Detox on its own isn’t treatment enough for addiction. For a person to have the highest chance of success, they should also enroll in a rehab program for Vicodin addiction.

By selecting a program that offers both of these services at one location, a person can receive uninterrupted treatment. By removing the gap between these services, the risk of relapse is also reduced.

Opioid addiction can be severe. In the process of addiction forming, a person’s health, life, career, and relationships can all be greatly harmed. For these reasons, an inpatient drug rehab program for Vicodin addiction may be the better course of treatment.

Inpatient, or residential addiction treatment as it is also called, is the most intensive level of care for addiction. Here, clients will have more time to work on the issues that matter most to their recovery.

People who have a dual diagnosis or addiction that occurs with a mental illness are often best treated in a residential program as well.

By living on our treatment campus at The Treehouse Rehab, a person has better access to the highly-trained staff, therapies, and treatments that are so integral to a strong recovery. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are two therapies we use to help clients achieve long-lasting healing and recovery.

Traveling to Vertava Health Texas can give a person greater privacy as they work on their recovery. Choosing an out-of-town or out-of-state inpatient drug rehab program also offers better protection against relapse triggers that exist in a person’s home town.