Vicodin is a drug that is commonly used to treat pain. Because it is a strong pain killer, it is commonly prescribed for moderate to severe pain after surgery or for injuries such as broken bones or ligament tears. However, due to its chemical makeup Vicodin is extremely addictive and users frequently become dependent on the drug.
The following is an overview of how Vicodin addiction affects the body of those who abuse it. If you or someone you love is addicted to opiates, it may be helpful to seek treatment at a recovery program.
How Is Vicodin Made?
Vicodin is made from acetaminophen and hydrocodone, with a potency and effect on the body that is similar to another one of the most commonly prescribed opiates morphine. Other drugs that are similar to Vicodin are:
According to the National Safety Council, 1.9 million Americans are currently addicted to opiate pain medication and 22,000 people die every year from opioid pain medications. Studies have shown that most people who become addicted to opiates such as Vicodin, never intended to become addicted and were prescribed the drug due to legitimate pain.
The National Safety Council also states that approximately 4 percent of those who abuse drugs such as Vicodin, will eventually transition to hard drugs such as heroin because it offers a similar high and is cheaper than opiate drugs.
The Short Term Effects of Vicodin
The effects of Vicodin will vary from person-to-person, but most people experience the following effects in the short term:
- Brain Fog
- Mood Swings
- Slowed Heart Rate
- Difficulty Urinating
- Suppressed Respirations
- Euphoria Then Depression
When someone takes this medication for extended periods of time, they become more tolerant to its effects, which is why many people begin to take more than prescribed by their doctor.
Vicodin Effects – Long Term
Many people begin to enjoy the euphoric feelings Vicodin produces and ignore the potentially dangerous side effects of the drug. The body’s reward system is responsible for the desire to ignore the dangers of the drug and to seek its effects.
When someone is addicted to Vicodin, they will ignore the warnings given to them by their family and risk being arrested when they break the law to obtain the drug. Other long term effects include:
- Breaking The Law By Modifying Prescriptions To Obtain More Of The Drug
- Steal To Afford Their Habit
- Doctor Shop To Obtain Multiple Prescriptions
- Buy Drugs Illegally
Physical Long Term Effects
Those who have a Vicodin addiction typically ignore their personal responsibilities because they spend most of their time trying to obtain the drug. This can be difficult because the body craves more and more of the drug the longer someone uses opiates.
The majority of the health risks are related to the damage this drug does to the nervous system over time. When too much of the drug is taken, breathing becomes slow and shallow, reducing the amount of oxygen carried to the organs and brain. Other physical long term effects include:
- Changes In Pain Perception
- Difficulty Handling Stress
- Rebound Pain Sensitivity
- Mood Swings
People who have an addiction to drugs such as Vicodin will go through withdrawal when they stop taking the drug. Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are similar to those heroin users experience. The primary symptoms associated with withdrawal are:
- Difficulty Eating
- Trouble Sleeping
- Overall Discomfort
- Cold Sweats
Treatment And Recovery
The treatment for Vicodin addiction begins with proper detoxification. This is done in a controlled setting that is safer and more comfortable than trying to detox at home. This type of detox also decreases the cravings for the drug that are a part of withdrawal.
After detox, most recovery programs require an in-house stay followed by outpatient treatment until the risk of relapse has subsided. Many people find that residing in sober living environments is helpful for staying clean and the residents support each other.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Vicodin or other opiate, contact a rehabilitation center near you for advice. Making the decision to get help is the first phase of treatment. While beating any addiction is never easy, going into treatment at a reputable facility will greatly increase your chances of getting sober and staying clean for the rest of your life.
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