Vicodin Abuse

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What Is Vicodin?

Physicians often prescribe Vicodin, a combination of hydrocodone (an opiate) and acetaminophen, for the relief of moderate to severe pain. It works by blocking pain receptors in the brain, but it also induces a sense of euphoria, making it extremely effective but also highly addictive.

Signs and Symptoms

People who take Vicodin tend to feel a rush of euphoria and relaxation, in addition to a noticeable decrease in pain. Over time, however, users develop a tolerance for the drug, and they will require more and more to achieve those same results.


The most noticeable signs and symptoms of Vicodin abuse are:

  • Appearing drowsy.
  • An obsession with procuring and consuming Vicodin.
  • .An inability to focus on a given task.
  • Extreme anxiety and paranoia.
  • Severe mood swings.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Vicodin abusers often turn to fraudulent means, such as “doctor shopping,” to procure more and more of the drug. Because of their intense focus on the Vicodin, everything else in their life takes a back seat, and their personal, professional and financial situation may begin to unravel.

Effects of Vicodin Abuse

It doesn’t take much to feel the effects of Vicodin use. Even casual users or those closely following a prescription dose may experience:

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

If taken for a prolonged period of time, Vicodin can cause medical issues, including liver damage or liver failure, jaundice and urinary system issues.

Because it is a central nervous system depressant, Vicodin naturally decreases heart rate and respirations, particularly if taken in large doses.

Vicodin Overdose

Overdose can occur when you take a dose that is too large or if you combine a dose with another type of central nervous system depressant, such as alcohol, another opiate or a barbiturate. The U.S. National Library of Medicine lists Vicodin overdose symptoms as:

  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Constricted/pinpoint pupils.
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure).
  • Fatigue.
  • Weak pulse.
  • Slowed/shallow/difficult breathing.
  • Respiratory arrest.
  • Cyanosis (blue tint to lips and fingernails).
  • Coma.
  • Seizures.

Vicodin Withdrawal

One of the most common problems with Vicodin is that withdrawal symptoms can set in after reducing your dose even slightly or waiting a bit longer to take your next dose. Because of this, many users are afraid to begin the recovery process.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the muscles and bone.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Restlessness and uncontrollable leg movements.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Feeling cold.

Vicodin Abuse Treatment

There are several options for you when you decide to begin treatment for your Vicodin problems. The first decision you will have to make is whether you should enter an inpatient or outpatient rehab program. If your addiction is severe, entering a rehab center on an inpatient basis might be the most effective route to take. The best candidates for outpatient therapy are those who have a strong support network at home, consisting of friends and family.

Whether you choose an inpatient or outpatient program, you may opt to go through the process of detox and withdrawal on a residential basis, where licensed medical personnel can help you get through the process with as little pain as possible.


Once you have decided on the type of program, you will need to figure out the best length of stay. Typically, longer stays are associated with better outcomes. Most treatment programs follow a standard program that includes:

  • A thorough intake process of assessment to your overall medical and mental condition.
  • Supervised detoxification.
  • Group and individual therapy with or without support groups.

Many people in recovery will benefit from an aftercare program that incorporates continued therapy in a group or individual setting and participation in support groups. It will also address any professional, legal, medical or financial issues that may have arisen due to your Vicodin abuse.

You don’t have to make these decisions alone. Treatment admissions specialists are standing by 24 hours a day, seven days per week to help guide you through this process. Get help today at 1-888-744-0069 .

Vicodin Statistics

These Vicodin facts and statistics paint a picture of the problems of abuse in the United States:

  • Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opiate in the country, with more than 139 million prescriptions filled during 2010.
  • Of all of the prescriptions containing hydrocodone, the most frequently prescribed are those that combine it with acetaminophen under the brand names of Vicodin or Lortab.
  • The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that 24.4 million people age 12 and older in the United States used hydrocodone recreationally at some point.

Teen Vicodin Abuse

For many teens, it is easier to steal Vicodin from their parents’ medicine cabinet than it is to purchase alcohol. According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey, roughly 10% of all tenth and twelfth graders had used Vicodin for nonmedical purposes during the previous year.

If you suspect that your teen is abusing Vicodin, we can help. Call 1-888-744-0069 to learn more about how to help a Vicodin addict.

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Eric Patterson, MSCP, NCC, LPC, is a professional counselor who has been working for over a decade to help children, adolescents, and adults in western Pennsylvania reach their goals and improve their well-being.

Along the way, Eric worked as a collaborating investigator for the field trials of the DSM-5 and completed an agreement to provide mental health treatment to underserved communities with the National Health Service Corp.

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