What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is an opiate pain reliever given for moderate to severe discomfort. It is a semi-synthetic opiate, as opposed to the natural opiates morphine and codeine. 

Hydrocodone is often prescribed by doctors for short-term pain relief following dental surgery or after an injury. This prescription drug is sold under brand names including Norco, Lortab, and the well-known Vicodin. There’s a brand of hydrocodone that does not have acetaminophen in it, like Zohydro. It is a new therapy option for severe, long-term pain that requires daily, around-the-clock medication. 

The Effects of Vicodin

Vicodin, like other opioids, can be highly addictive if used frequently. Once the medicine binds to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs, its short-term effects kick in. Symptoms are comparable to those produced by other opiates, such as morphine or heroin. 

Effects that are present in all users are:

  • Pain relief
  • Suppression of the cough reflex
  • A feeling of euphoric calm and relaxation

Even those that don’t take Vicodin often may experience the following during their use of it:

  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting and an upset stomach

Long-term Vicodin usage is associated with an increased risk of liver damage or failure, jaundice, and problems with the urinary system. 

High doses of Vicodin reduce heart rate and breathing. Many heroin addicts see prescription medicines as a less risky option because of their legal status. Despite its legality, an overdose of Vicodin can cause coma, respiratory depression, and death.

Signs of Vicodin Abuse and Addiction

This pill’s hydrocodone content is what makes it so addictive, but research has shown that high doses of acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage. Someone abusing Vicodin by taking more than the recommended dose runs the risk of becoming dependent on the opiate hydrocodone and also of developing liver failure due to the high amount of acetaminophen.

Some of the signs of Vicodin abuse are:

  • Slow heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Fear
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Constipation
  • Constricted pupils

Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms

If you try to stop using Vicodin after your body has become dependent on it you may experience withdrawal. People struggling with hydrocodone addiction should seek treatment through detox and rehabilitation to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms. 

Withdrawal occurs after prolonged use. The drug is still entering the organs. The body begins to develop a dependency on the drug and develops a craving for it. When a user does not get enough Vicodin into their system, their body reacts.

Symptoms to watch out for when trying to wean off Vicodin:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Generalized pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Elevated heartbeat

Long-Term Side Effects of Vicodin Abuse

Since Vicodin may be habit-forming, addiction is a potential long-term effect. The drug causes the user to experience a heightened sense of well-being. It works by saturating the receptors, which prevents the transmission of pain signals to the brain. After that, the brain is flooded with dopamine, and the user develops a dependency on Vicodin. Unfortunately, over time, the body develops a need for the drug’s euphoria and sedation to the point where it becomes physically and mentally dependent on it.

Vicodin Addiction Treatment

Help is available for Vicodin addiction. Treatment plans are tailored to the specific needs of each patient as they make their way toward full recovery. Individualization of care is essential to the success of any addiction treatment program.

When deciding on a course of therapy, it’s important to factor in any further care that may be required. Programs that can manage or have experience with integrated therapy for dual-diagnosis or co-occurring diseases may be helpful for people with co-occurring illnesses including depression, anxiety, or a personality disorder.