Learn about Vicodin addiction and abuse
Vicodin is a prescription medication that is composed of a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone for the purpose of treating moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone is a narcotic pain medication that, when combined with acetaminophen, becomes significantly more potent. While acetaminophen is not a narcotic and therefore does not possess the same risk for dependency that accompanies hydrocodone, the enhanced effects that the combination of these two chemicals creates is one that renders countless individuals susceptible to developing an addiction.
Not only successful at alleviating pain, Vicodin also serves to provide users with feelings of extreme relaxation, euphoria, and a sense of detachment from their surroundings. As a result of these pleasurable effects, many individuals find themselves caught in the grips of an addiction to this dangerous substance. Tolerance to Vicodin develops rapidly, meaning that users have to consistently increase the dosage or the amount that they take in order to achieve the same pleasurable effects. This consistent increase can then quickly cycle into the demon of addiction.
Once an addiction to any substance has developed, it can be extremely difficult to overcome without the help of qualified professionals, and an addiction to Vicodin is no different. Fortunately, there are treatment options available that can help individuals overcome their addiction to this toxic drug and reemerge on the path to lasting sobriety.
Vicodin abuse statistics
Vicodin is cited as being the most frequently prescribed opioid medication in the United States. In 2010 alone, there were said to have been more than 139 million prescriptions for Vicodin filled throughout the U.S. Believed to be due, in part, to the relative ease in which individuals can obtain this substance, the rate of Vicodin abuse is estimated to have quadrupled over the past ten years.
Causes and risk factors for Vicodin abuse
The reasons behind why individuals begin to use and abuse substances like Vicodin is believed to lie in a number of different factors. The following are brief explanations of various causes and risk factors that are said to play a role in the development of an addiction to Vicodin:
Genetic: Over the years, studies have consistently demonstrated that there is a genetic component to the development of substance abuse and addiction as the presence of addictive behaviors has consistently proven to run in families. When there exists a family history of substance abuse, including the abuse of Vicodin or other types of prescription medications, an individual is at a heightened risk for developing an addiction as well.
Environmental: There are various environmental circumstances that can raise an individual’s susceptibility to developing an addiction to drugs like Vicodin. For example, growing up in environments where drug and/or alcohol use is prominent leaves people at a higher risk for eventually using substances themselves. In regards to substances like Vicodin in particular, individuals who experience health complications in which Vicodin is prescribed to provide alleviation to undesirable effects are inevitably at a heightened risk for beginning to abuse, and subsequently develop an addiction to, the substance.
- Family history of substance use, abuse, and addiction
- Personal or family history of mental health conditions
- Personal history of abusing other substances
- Exposure to drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Suffering from a chronic pain condition
- Undergoing surgery
- Ease of access to obtain Vicodin
- Being the victim of abuse and/or neglect
Signs and symptoms of Vicodin abuse
When someone is abusing Vicodin, the signs of such abuse may not always be clearly evident. The longer that this type of abuse persists, however, the more likely it is to become apparent to those around the user. The following are possible symptoms that may be displayed by an individual who is struggling with a Vicodin abuse problem:
- Making multiple visits to various doctors in order to obtain a number of prescriptions for Vicodin
- Fabricating concerns of illness or pain in order to obtain the medication
- Stealing from friends and/or family
- Isolating oneself
- No longer participating in activities that were once enjoyed
- Drowsiness / fatigue
- Ringing in the ears
- Decreased heart rate
- Constricted pupils
- Memory disturbances
- Concentration difficulties
- Oscillating moods
- Irrational feelings of fear
- Euphoric feelings
Effects of Vicodin abuse
Whenever anyone abuses any type of substance, he or she is placing him or herself at risk for experiencing any number of detrimental psychological, physical, and social consequences. While the exact effects that are imposed on individuals who abuse Vicodin will vary from person to person, possible examples may include the following:
- Liver damage / liver failure
- Irreversible cognitive impairment
- Chronic headaches
- Declined ability to perform occupationally, potentially resulting in job loss and/or chronic unemployment
- Financial strife
- Relationship disturbances
- Interaction with law enforcement as the result of forging prescriptions, stealing, etc.
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Experiencing the onset of symptoms synonymous with various mental health conditions
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
Vicodin abuse & co-occurring disorders
It is not uncommon for individuals who abuse substances like Vicodin to struggle with symptoms of mental illness concurrently. Examples of mental health conditions that have been cited as co-occurring alongside an addiction to Vicodin include:
- Depressive disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Personality disorders
- Other substance use disorders