Vicodin is a powerful opiate painkiller, widely prescribed in the U.S. for pain management. According to WebMD it was the most frequently prescribed opiate painkiller in America in 2013, at nearly 130,000 prescriptions. Vicodin is a blend of hydrocodone (a strong narcotic pain-reliever and cough suppressant) and acetaminophen (non-narcotic pain reliever and fever-reducer). Hydrocodone blocks the receptors on brain nerve cells that give the pain, while Acetaminophen works by elevating a person’s pain threshold. The combination is a relief to someone suffering from moderate to moderately severe pain.
But just as other commonly-prescribed opiates, Vicodin has serious potential for abuse, dependency, and overdose. Unfortunately, even people who begin taking the drug exactly as directed can find themselves falling victim to addiction and long-term use of Vicodin. They quickly develop a physical dependence and then tolerance. Once someone reaches a tolerance to the drug, they need more and more to achieve the same high their brain has grown to expect. This vicious cycle leaves the user helpless and unable to stop taking the drug.
If you suspect that you or someone you love is abusing Vicodin, call 12 Keys Rehab to learn more about Vicodin and addiction, and to get the help you need.
History of Vicodin
German scientists first developed hydrocodone after World War I. Like all narcotic painkillers, it derives from the opium poppy, which is also the chemical home of heroin and morphine. The U.S. government knew hydrocodone was addictive as early as 1934; nevertheless, its effectiveness as a painkiller and as a cough suppressant led to its popularity among physicians and patients. Acetaminophen — itself a health hazard in large doses because of potential liver damage — enhances the effects of hydrocodone, and a pharmaceutical company blended the two drugs to create Vicodin in 1978.
Growing Vicodin Abuse
Long-term Vicodin use increases the chances of abuse and developing a full-blown addiction. Unfortunately, Vicodin has become one of the most abused opioids in the U.S.. NIDA reports that emergency room visits related to hydrocodone increased more than 500 percent in the 12-year span from 1990 to 2002. Just seven years later, one federal advisory panel recommended banning Vicodin because of its addictive side effects. Because of its effectiveness as a painkiller and its popularity, — doctors write well over 100 million prescriptions every year — it remains in use.
On the heels of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency, they revealed some startling facts:
- 116 people died every day in 2016 from opioid-related drug overdoses
- 42,249 people died altogether from opioid overdoses
- 2.1 million people misused prescription opioids for the first time
- 948,000 people used heroin (a popular transition from opioid abuse due to lower cost)
- Economic costs related to the opioid epidemic totaled 504 million
- 40 percent of all opioid overdose fatalities involved a prescription
HHS has developed a five-point strategy for addressing the crisis, which includes getting better data, better pain treatment, more services for addiction prevention, treatment and recovery, increased overdose reversers and better overall research.
Vicodin Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms
Vicodin works in the human brain in two ways. Acetaminophen lessens the production of a natural chemical that affects how we feel pain; hydrocodone forces the release of the brain’s feel-good chemicals. Taking Vicodin not only stops pain, but it also produces a warm feeling of euphoria that users learn to depend on. The feel-good receptors in the brain become to rely on the drug to function from day-to-day. Eventually, the dependent user becomes completely addicted and must take increasing amounts of the drug simply to avoid withdrawal. Tolerance contributes to the risk of overdose during a relapse and the user returning to using after a period of time. The user may not realize they’ve lost their tolerance and begin taking a dosage that’s too strong.
Long-term use of Vicodin leads to dependency, therefore stopping use of the drug will produce uncomfortable, sometimes unbearable withdrawal symptoms which include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Runny nose
- Itching and swelling
If you are feeling any of these withdrawal symptoms, it’s time to get medical help. Call us now for a free consultation.
How to Recognize Vicodin Abuse
You may suspect a loved one is abusing Vicodin due to some uncharacteristic behaviors. Here are some signs:
- Continued use of the drug long after the prescription ends
- Using the drug at increased dosages (not as prescribed)
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- You or family members are missing money or valuables
- They exhibit drowsiness, lethargy and overall lack of energy
- Lack of concentration
- Lack of motivation
- Change in appearance (droopy eyes, head nodding, slurred speech)
- More secrecy
Help for Long-Term Vicodin use Florida
There were 2,798 opioid-related overdose deaths reported in Florida in 2016, according to NIDA. That is a rate of 14.4 deaths per 100,000 people. This is higher than the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people. There are too many innocent lives lost to overdose from opioids such as Vicodin. Our staff at 12 Keys Rehab is here to help.
We know that withdrawing from Vicodin without help is not only unpleasant, but it is nearly intolerable. Physical symptoms last for days and sometimes longer; psychological symptoms can last for months. Because the physical symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal include severe pain and cramping, it can often be difficult to convince a Vicodin addict that treatment is necessary.
At 12 Keys Rehab, we have helped thousands of people recover from drug addiction, including long-term Vicodin use. You’ll begin your stay in our onsite medically assisted detox, where our qualified and understanding staff will be there around-the-clock to make you feel comfortable during early withdrawal. We understand the fear and trepidation you may have and we are here to help you get the most out of addiction treatment.
Our therapists and counselors will design a progressive, individualized treatment program that will do more than deplete your body of the drug – we will dig deep down to the core issues of your drug use. Through intensive individual, group and experiential therapies, we will help you overcome those barriers to sobriety and will provide the coping strategies to carry with you after leaving treatment. Finally, you’ll join our recovering family members in our supportive aftercare program, where you’ll begin to build your life without drugs.
Call 12 Keys now and find your path to freedom, starting today. 866-480-4328