Vicodin is a powerful prescription analgesic which is used to manage mild to moderate pain. Essentially it is created by combining two other painkillers – hydrocodone and acetaminophen, whereby hydrocodone is used for its ability to improve the effectiveness of acetaminophen. As an opioid, Vicodin works by altering the central nervous systems response to pain.
The other reason for this combination is to prevent any potential abuse of hydrocodone which is a physically addictive substance. Despite this, Vicodin addiction is still a relatively common problem that affects thousands of Americans, partially due to its ability to bring about mood changes and drowsiness. In some cases Vicodin can bring about feelings of euphoria and forgetfulness – the latter of which can further lead to addiction as it leads the sufferer to overdose. As tolerance to the medication increases an addict may also further increase their dosage in order to get the same ‘buzz’.
Addiction to prescription medication of any sort is often hard to diagnose and recognize and many will be in denial that they have a problem – rather rationalizing their actions as ‘following the doctor’s orders’. However it is highly important that Vicodin addiction be treated, as it can otherwise lead to long term mental difficulties, behavioural changes, risk of overdose, hallucinations, skin problems and vision problems. In the long term it can result in coma and ultimately death.
An addict might notice the first symptoms of Vicodin addiction as anxiety over the medication running out and extreme lengths being taken to get more. If you begin to feel anxious when you aren’t using the medication, and should you start to knowingly exceed the recommended dosage then all these things may point to signs of an addiction. Family members might also notice changes in behaviour, sudden mood swings and the tell-tale facial swelling and rashes which point to an addiction.
Treatment and Withdrawal
If you suspect you or someone you know may be suffering from a Vicodin addiction, then it is highly important to seek medical attention and this can help you to get the appropriate support for combating the problem.
When quitting Vicodin after a physical addiction, withdrawal symptoms can include flu-like symptoms, as well as anxiety, increased heart rate, pain, diarrhoea, tremors and profuse perspiration. However it is not life threatening and the symptoms are only likely to last a few weeks.
As with most addictions it is not recommended that you go ‘cold turkey’ but rather that you gradually reduce your dosage of Vicodin which will help to minimize symptoms. You should also be sure to maintain your health in other ways and to make sure that you eat a healthy diet and get lots of sleep.
If you are struggling to overcome your addiction, then a doctor can help by prescribing certain medications. For instance they might recommend Benzodiazepines such as Xanax which treat anxiety during withdrawal (though note that these too can be addictive). Meanwhile they may suggest Methadone which can prevent certain brain receptors from recognizing the absence of Vicodin. Meanwhile this also prevents the effectiveness of Vicodin thereby helping to prevent a full blown relapse. You might choose to use over the counter medications to help prevent insomnia.
Most of all though it is important that you recognize the problem, and that you are willing to discuss it with your friends, family and doctor. This is how you can prevent the addiction from becoming a serious problem that puts your life at risk, and how you can address it as quickly as effectively as possible. Vicodin addiction is nothing to be ashamed of as it is a physical reaction in the brain, and if treated early it needn’t be a serious problem.