Addiction to Vicodin: What It Is, Why It Happens, and How to Get Help
Vicodin is a type of prescription pain medication. When used properly, it can effectively minimize the pain signals traveling from the body to the brain. Yet, as with many other prescription opioids, Vicodin has a very high addiction risk, especially when used outside of a prescription.
An estimated 2 million people in the U.S. misused prescription pain medications in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The agency reports that many teens and young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 abuse these drugs, including Vicodin. Nonmedical use of Vicodin is one of the more common abuses.
What Is Vicodin?
Vicodin is prescribed to people with moderate to severe pain due to injury or disease. Vicodin is a combination of acetaminophen with hydrocodone, a type of synthetic opioid. The drug works to activate the neuroreceptors in the brain, much like heroin or other opioids do. If you are given a prescription for Vicodin, follow it closely to avoid developing addictive behaviors.
Understanding Vicodin Abuse & Addiction
The Drug Enforcement Agency labels Vicodin as a Schedule II controlled substance. That means it cannot be accessed legally without a prescription. It’s labeled as such because of the high risk of addiction that comes with it. Not only does this drug create addiction but it also can cause liver and kidney damage, cognitive function decline, and life-threatening seizures when taken improperly.
Why do people take this drug if they don’t have pain? While it is a very effective pain reliever, it also triggers the brain’s pleasure and reward center, causing the following:
- A relaxing, calming feeling
- Lowering of heart rate
- Lowering of breathing rate
- A feeling of anxiety relief in some situations
These good feelings become the reason some people abuse Vicodin: they want to relieve emotional pain, not just physical pain. The problem is that Vicodin, when abused, can also cause depression, aches and pain, constipation, and lightheadedness. In other words, it creates the pain it was designed to relieve, trapping the brain in a pattern of dependence and addiction. With addiction, the person feels compulsive urges to use the drug all of the time even though they are aware of the negative consequences.
Signs of Addiction & Dependence
It can be difficult for someone who is using Vicodin for pain relief to tell when an addiction develops. If they don’t take the drug, they feel pain. But that pain itself can also signal an addiction. Other common signs of addiction to this drug include:
- Taking increasing doses of it because the lower dose is no longer effective
- Running out of the medication before your prescription is due to be refilled
- Craving the drug
- Recognizing the problems caused in relationships and at work but continuing to use the drug
- Withdrawing from social and recreational activities that you used to enjoy
- Isolating yourself from others
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms if you do not have access to the drugs
Do you believe you have an addiction to Vicodin? When you’re facing physical dependence on a drug like this with warning signs like those above, you may be unsure what to do. The long-term negative effects of using Vicodin can be worrisome, especially since overdose can occur.
Professional Vicodin Drug Addiction Treatment Can Help You
Because of how significant withdrawal symptoms are for Vicodin addiction, it is generally recommended that people enter a professional detox program, working with doctors and other professionals to minimize withdrawal complications. In addition, counseling is also recommended to help change negative thought patterns and to increase awareness of triggers, which can lead to relapse.
With professional Vicodin detox and treatment, it is possible to break your dependence on this drug. That may mean finding new ways to treat the pain you have. It will also mean regaining control over your future. Reach out to Victory Addiction Recovery Center today for immediate help.
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