How It Starts

To manage pain, doctors prescribe vicodin to tens of millions of Americans each year. The medication combines two different drugs hydrocodone, a powerfully addictive painkiller, and acetaminophen, a non-steroidal pain reliever. Hydrocodone is an opioid painkiller, and may cause intense feelings of pleasure and relaxation. The weaker (and less addictive) of the two, acetaminophen can damage the liver in larger doses. The combination relieves pain–and creates pleasure.

Sometimes, patients will find themselves turning to vicodin for non-medical reasons–and will become addicted. In other cases, addiction may be the result of pure recreational use. Either way, the trajectory of prescription medication addiction takes a similar path.

At first, you or your loved one may find the drug helps with tuning out daily stress and unhappiness. But as addiction takes hold, vicodin begins to take control of your life. Eventually, you might come to prioritize your dependency over your responsibilities and relationships, stealing, lying, and otherwise acting unethically to obtain more.

If this sounds familiar, you are likely in the grip of a vicodin addiction. We can help.

Vicodin Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Effects

Vicodin is primarily prescribed for pain essentially, it blocks the brain’s pain receptors, providing relief from chronic pain or injury. Vicodin is a depressant–it slows heart rate and breathing and causes drowsiness. Vicodin also has uncomfortable side effects, such as lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, seizures–the list goes on. Alarmingly, an overdose can cause serious cardiovascular problems–and even death.

Vicodin Withdrawal

If you have developed a problem with vicodin, you will likely experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop taking it. In fact, for many, these symptoms are so painful or frightening that you’ve got to continue taking vicodin–lest you experience them. Complicating the problem further, people who take vicodin for a long time find themselves needing more and more of it to achieve the same effects.

Physical effects of withdrawal can include flu-like symptoms, insomnia, sweating, and nausea. Psychological effects may include severe anxiety and agitation. Withdrawal symptoms will subside, but the length of time this takes will depend on the individual and their specific experience with the drug, including the dose they were taking.

A Path To Recovery

Recovering from any prescription medication addiction will be trying and difficult for both you and your loved one. But a complete recovery is achievable. There are ways to make the process easier, including a gradual tapering, or using other drugs to ease vicodin withdrawal symptoms. In any case, it’s very important to have support during this difficult time.

If you’re suffering from vicodin addiction, know that help is available. You’re not alone, and there’s no shame in experiencing problems related to substance abuse.