What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is an opiate based painkiller which combines hydrocodone, a synthetic opioid and acetaminophen, a non-steroidal pain reliever similar to Tylenol. This narcotic works by blocking the pain receptors in the brain.
Hydrocodone is an opiate, so like heroin, it gives a euphoric high alongside pain relief and feelings of relaxation. These feelings are part of the reason Vicodin is so addictive.
Because of its effects, Vicodin is also commonly abused and can be crushed up and snorted or some addicts even extract the hydrocodone and take this liquid orally, intravenously or rectally via a syringe.
Street Names for Vicodin
As with all drugs there are a wide variety of slang terms for Vicodin. The terms used often depend on the region.
History of Vicodin
Vicodin is one of the most popular prescription painkillers and one that is frequently abused. Hydrocodone was first discovered in the 1920s and acetaminophen has been used ever since 1893, when it was derived from a by-product of coal/tar distillation.
Vicodin was introduced as a prescription painkiller in 1978 by Knoll Pharmaceuticals who still produce it today. It comes in three different strengths: Vicodin (5 mg hydrocodone, 500 mg acetaminophen), Vicodin ES (7.5/750), Vicodin HP (10/660). There are also many generic variants of Vicodin.
What are the effects of Vicodin Addiction?
Vicodin contains different amounts of hydrocodone and acetaminophen and while hydrocodone is the addictive component of this pill, taking acetaminophen in high doses can result in serious liver damage.
Taking 2 grams of acetaminophen is considered a high dose, so a person abusing Vicodin by taking a larger dosage than recommended is not only risking addiction to the opiate hydrocodone but also liver failure from the acetaminophen.
As with many prescription drugs, people can become addicted by accident following an operation or calamity while others become addicted by abusing the drug from the start. The results however are the same for all.
Every addict’s path into addiction varies. This is a complex disease with many underlying layers which coupled together with trauma, abuse, depression and anxiety make it difficult to diagnose and treat without effective residential addiction treatment.
- Seizures and convulsions
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart problems, including infection of heart lining and valves if injected
- Infectious diseases spread by shared needles (HIV and hepatitis B and C)
- Blood clots or tissue death resulting from collapsed veins if injected
- Liver disease
- Changes in the brain chemistry – short term
- Changes in the structure and function of the brain – long term
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Disturbed sleep
- Unhealthy eating habits/malnutrition
- Memory loss and reduced intellectual capacity
- Lying to yourself/denial
- Apathy /Exhaustion
- Suicidal thoughts
- Memory loss
- Mood Swings
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Lack of interest in work/school
- Lack of interest and ability in maintain relationships/friendships
- Damaged relationships with family members
- Lying to others
- Damaged self-esteem and self-worth
- Damaged relationship with self
- Lack of interest in life
- An inability to function without the drug
The signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction get progressively worse over time and there will be no resolution until effective addiction treatment and aftercare are sought.
Withdrawal from Vicodin Addiction
Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of other opioid pain medications or heroin and although very uncomfortable are rarely life threatening. Physical symptoms include:
- Enlarged pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shivering and flu like symptoms,
- Muscle aches or cramps.
- Sleep disturbances
The Two Stages of Withdrawal – Acute and Post-Acute
There are two stages of withdrawal from Vicodin addiction. The first stage has immediate acute symptoms and these are usually both physical and psychological. During stage two, former users experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS.
These refer to a number of psychological symptoms which can last for weeks or months after the user has stopped taking the drug. This is one of many reasons why residential treatment is the most effective way to treat Vicodin addiction.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of motivation
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Anger or emotional outbursts