Consequences of Long Term Vicodin Abuse

Vicodin is a prescription painkiller that is both extremely addictive and damaging to one’s health. Vicodin is often prescribed for treating moderate to severe pain, but has been administered after wisdom tooth extraction, sprained ankles, and severe menstrual cramps. Vicodin abuse occurs in shockingly prevalent numbers for those who are taking the medication as prescribed or recreationally.

  • In 2013, a reported 5.3% of 12th graders were abusing Vicodin
  • In 2011, up to 131 million Americans were prescribed Vicodin
  • In 2013, a reported 4.5 million Americans aged 12 or older were using Vicodin non-medically
  • Vicodin abuse and addiction cost the United States over $480 billion in healthcare, lost job wages, traffic accidents, and in the criminal justice system

The active ingredient in Vicodin is Hydrocodone which activates the same neuroreceptors in the brain as Heroin. This qualifies Vicodin as a Schedule II controlled substance drug by the DEA, being promoted from a Schedule III drug in 2014 after Vicodin abuse and addiction rates started to increase.

Similarly to any other opioid, Vicodin abuse can create serious and lasting health concerns for people who take the drug frequently. Since Vicodin is a combination of Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen, the drug can have detrimental effects on the liver. The side effects that many people look for when taking or abusing Vicodin are:

  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Lowered stress levels
  • Pain relief
  • Drowsiness or Aid in sleep

Long-Term Vicodin Addiction

Many people believe that because a doctor prescribes them a medication, that it cannot be dangerous, or that Vicodin abuse “won’t happen to them.” Studies are showing that a large majority of people who are now speaking out about and reporting their opioid or heroin addiction were first introduced to the drug by receiving a Vicodin addiction for a minor surgery or pain.

Vicodin abuse can lead to Vicodin addiction very quickly, leaving a person wondering how they ever got into this mess, but a physical dependence on the drug can happen in as little as two weeks. Once a physical tolerance develops, symptoms of withdrawal can scare a person either into stopping or continuing so they don’t get sick.

Some common physical signs of Vicodin abuse or addiction are:

  • Constipation while on the drug, diarrhea during withdrawal
  • A need for a larger dose to get the same effects
  • Irritability, anxiety or depression while off the drug
  • Nausea and vomiting while on or withdrawing from the drug
  • Restless legs and muscle pains
  • Runny nose and watery eyes

Addiction can affect people in many different ways, meaning some people manage to continue living their day to day lives as long as they have access to the pills, while others spiral out of control rather quickly. If you are concerned that you or your loved one may be struggling with Vicodin abuse or addiction, it can be helpful to watch their behavior patterns such as:

  • Running out of the medication faster than anticipated
  • Spending more money on the drug
  • Seeing multiple doctors in order to get more of the medication
  • Developing a craving or obsession for the drug
  • Ignoring obligations or responsibility
  • Trying to stop using but being unable

Addiction can happen when you least expect it, but recovery is always possible. If you are concerned that you or your loved one may be struggling with Vicodin abuse or addiction, don’t hesitate.

vicodin addict

Liver Damage

As stated previously, one of the main ingredients in Vicodin is Acetaminophen. When taken sparingly and only when needed, Acetaminophen really doesn’t damage the liver too much, however, when taken in daily and in excess, can cause severe damage and even liver toxicity.

According to Poison Control Centers, over 42,000 Americans are hospitalized every year due to Acetaminophen complications or overdose. This number is based on that medication alone, not when combined with Vicodin, but the numbers only go up from there.

Some symptoms to look out for that occur via liver damage are:

  • Sharp stomach pains
  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Jaundice
  • Sweating and loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Dark yellow urine

The liver is a crucial organ in that it filters and detoxes harmful substances from the blood and body, turns food into substances we can use and supplies cells with important nutrients when needed. The liver aids in blood clotting, eradicates dead blood cells and breaking down fats to provide energy.

Financial Distress

Most people that struggle with addiction in one form or another experience a strain on their financial situation. For people who struggle with Vicodin abuse, their financial difficulties can be from buying multiple prescriptions at once. Many people get cut off from doctors and insurance companies, which lead to exploring new options to satiate the need for the drug.

Eventually, untreated Vicodin abuse can spiral out of control, leading to buying their pills from an illegal dealer, or even to switching to harder drugs that are easier to purchase and are cheaper. Again, this is how a large number of people who are struggling with heroin addiction currently state they first got started on the track.

Spending money on more and more of the drug can lead to avoiding paying bills, rent, supporting a family or being able to hold down a job.

Mental Disorders

It is very common for people who struggle with addiction to have a co-occurring mental disorder either as a result or as an underlying factor in why they began using in the first place. For many, these drugs can magnify their previous symptoms. For others, drug use can create these symptoms in people who may have never before experienced them. Some of the most common mental disorders that are associated with Vicodin abuse and drug addiction are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Bipolar Personality Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

For people who abuse drugs in any form, it is often an escape that they come to value as vital for their mental well being. These drugs become the perfect band-aid to dealing with their real struggles, but end up doing more harm than good.

Recovery from Vicodin abuse and addiction is possible. Through separation from the drug in a licensed rehabilitation center, extensive therapeutic work, and a recovery program, Vicodin abuse doesn’t have to be the end of the road. People with addiction can achieve a healthy and functional life again.

Start Your Journey to Sobriety

Addiction is one of the loneliest diseases on the planet, but your life doesn’t have to be lonely anymore. At 12 Keys Rehab, you will find a community of people working towards their growth, their independence, their serenity, and their lives! Join us on your journey towards your new life, and let us guide you in a relaxing, rejuvenation, supportive, and compassionate environment towards a healthier, happier, you!

The Addiction Blog