Vicodin Symptoms & Effects

Used to treat moderate to severe pain, Vicodin is a prescription medication that is composed of a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen by itself is not an addictive substance, but when it is added to hydrocodone in order to enhance the effects, the combination becomes a highly addictive drug.

Not only does Vicodin serve to alleviate pain, but it also provides users with mild feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and a sense of detachment from their surroundings. These pleasurable effects become appealing to many people, causing them to take increasing amounts of the substance or to take it more frequently than intended. The body then develops a tolerance to the presence of the drug, causing that dosage or that frequency to continually increase. This ongoing increase can then result in an addiction. And once an addiction has developed, it can be extremely difficult to overcome without professional intervention. Thankfully, Twelve Oaks Recovery Center is available to offer compassionate treatment to those struggling with an addiction to Vicodin.

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Statistics

Vicodin is said to be one of the most commonly prescribed painkillers in the United States. For example, estimates have been provided stating that approximately 139 million prescriptions for Vicodin were filled in 2010 alone. Additionally, the rate of Vicodin abuse has quadrupled within the last decade.

Causes and Risk Factors for Vicodin Abuse

The reasons behind why and how people become addicted to substances like Vicodin are believed to lay in a combination of various factors, which are described briefly in the following:

Genetic: Genetics have been strongly linked to the development of an addiction to alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs like Vicodin. When individuals have a family history of substance abuse, they are more susceptible to experiencing similar challenges at some point in their lives than are those who do not have the same type of genetic background.

Environmental: The environment in which individuals are immersed can play a powerful role in increasing their susceptibility to developing an addiction to drugs like Vicodin. For example, people who are exposed to the abuse of substances are more likely to engage in the behavior themselves than are individuals who do not have such exposure. Additionally, people who work in environments where they are at risk for injury are more likely to engage in this form of substance abuse as they have a more probable chance of being prescribed a drug like Vicodin.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of mental illness
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Undergoing surgery
  • Presence of a chronic pain condition
  • Working in a profession where the risk for injury is high
  • Ease of access with which one can obtain Vicodin

Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse

It is not always easy to determine whether or not someone is abusing Vicodin, as the symptoms are not always as clearly evident as they are with other types of substances. Additionally, the specific types of symptoms displayed will inevitably vary from person to person. The various signs and symptoms that may be displayed by someone who is struggling with a Vicodin abuse problem can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • No longer taking part in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Isolating oneself from family and friends
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Making multiple visits to various doctors so that multiple prescriptions can be obtained
  • Falsifying reports of pain or illness in order to obtain a prescription for Vicodin

Physical symptoms:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Constricted pupils
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Light headedness
  • Itching
  • Drowsiness and fatigue

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory disturbances
  • Confusion
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Dissociation
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Irrational feelings of fear
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sudden changes in mood
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Vicodin Abuse

The ongoing abuse of Vicodin can leave users susceptible to experiencing a number of detrimental effects; effects that can negatively impact all areas of their lives. Examples of such effects may include:

  • Disturbances in one’s social life
  • Familial strife
  • Destroyed marriages and partnerships
  • Job loss
  • Financial difficulties
  • Liver damage or liver failure
  • Chronic headaches
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Cognitive damage
  • Onset of, or worsening of current, mental illness symptoms
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Co-Occurring Disorders

It is not uncommon for individuals who struggle with Vicodin abuse to simultaneously battle symptoms of other mental health conditions as well. Examples of such conditions can include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Other substance use disorders

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Vicodin withdrawal: When people have been abusing Vicodin and then suddenly cease their use, they are vulnerable to going through a period of withdrawal from the substance. Examples of possible withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Intense cravings for Vicodin
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle cramping
  • Bodily aches and pains
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose

Effects of Vicodin overdose: When people consume more of a substance than their bodies are capable of metabolizing, they are at risk for experiencing an overdose. Overdosing on any type of substance can be extremely dangerous and should be viewed as a medical emergency with appropriate treatment being sought as quickly as possible. Signs that could indicate that someone has overdosed on Vicodin include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Constricted pupils
  • Profuse sweating
  • Violent vomiting
  • Coma
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Liver failure
  • Decline in heart rate
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Cessation of breathing
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