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How to Help a Vicodin Addict

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Help for Vicodin Addiction

Vicodin is one of the many brand names for the combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is an opioid used to treat moderate and severe pain, as well as a treatment for cough. The acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that acts on different pain receptors, making Vicodin more effective.

Prescription opioid abuse is an increasing problem in the US, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimating that more than 2 million people in the country suffering from an addiction to prescription opioid drugs.

Vicodin misuse and abuse occurs in all economic demographics, age groups, and sexes. If you’re struggling with an addiction or know someone who is, you can get help.

Approaching a Loved One About Their Addiction

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An addiction to nonmedical prescription pain relievers, such as Vicodin, is increasingly common in the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2014, 4.3 million people aged 12 or older reported currently using a nonmedical prescription reliever such as Vicodin.

Unfortunately, the abuse of these pain relievers is related to hundreds of accidents, overdoses, and deaths each year. If someone you love is addicted to Vicodin, it may be time to consider approaching them about getting help before it’s too late.

The process of confronting your loved one about their problem with Vicodin can be intimidating — especially if they began taking the medication to manage pain. Try to remain optimistic and positive, because you could very well help them into treatment. In addition to remaining compassionate, empathetic, and non-judgmental, you can offer to do the following activities with your loved one:

  • Drive them to the doctor to receive more information.
  • Help them put together information and resources for them about available treatment plans or centers.
  • Help them make a list of possible questions to ask treatment centers.

Addiction Treatment

People dependent on Vicodin will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop using the substance. Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Agitation.
  • Insomnia.
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Pain.

Withdrawal symptoms can be sufficiently intense to push those attempting to detox into a relapse. Because of this, professional treatment is often recommended to manage withdrawal symptoms and increase the comfort of the patient during the typically unpleasant detox process, which is typically the first step in the treatment process.

Treatment programs may be better than hospitals for recovering Vicodin users

There’s no denying the medical benefits of hospital care, but when it comes to Vicodin addiction recovery, a hospital may not be enough. A 2017 study revealed that addiction treatment programs have significantly lower death rates for opioid addicts than hospital treatment alone. Addiction specialists know how to identify a Vicodin use problem early on, can provide much better psychological care, and can help the individual develop their relapse prevention skills to avoid deadly relapse.

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Opioid Abusers at Higher Death Risk When Addiction Specialists Not Part of Care. Medline Plus.

A period of medically supervised detox will wean the user off the substance while managing the symptoms and making the patient as comfortable as possible. Other substances may be administered during this time to increase comfort and promote a better prognosis.

Recovery and rehabilitation can begin after detox and will generally include individual and group therapy to help you understand the underlying reasons behind the addiction and how to cope with triggers in the future while maintaining your sobriety.

You may prefer to get this addiction treatment in an inpatient rehab facility where you can focus 24/7 on your sobriety and learn the skills to live in recovery. However, if this is not an option, outpatient treatment programs and assistance are also available and can give you much of the same care while allowing you to live at home. It’s important to consider realistically whether you’ll have the needed support at home to stay sober while attending outpatient treatment. For some, the period of treatment in a rehab facility away from the everyday environment that fostered substance use is necessary to begin the recovery process.

Beyond professional treatment, someone in recovery can engage in facilitated peer support groups and work to improve their relationships with loved ones. A renewed focus on sober coping skills can yield positive results as well.

Is Vicodin Addictive?

Yes, Vicodin is potentially addictive. The hydrocodone in it is a powerful prescription opioid drug that can produce the following effects:

  • Feelings of euphoria.
  • Slowed body responses.
  • Decreased physical tension.
  • Less worry and anxiety.
  • Improved ability to sleep.

Addiction to Vicodin is common because the substance activates an increase of a chemical in the body called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that provides a strong, rewarding feeling that promotes continued use.

What Are the Signs of Addiction?

Even though no one sets out to be an addict, Vicodin accounts for tens of thousands of addictions in the United States alone. Vicodin users, even without an addiction, experience undesirable effects such as:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Changing moods.
  • Constricted pupils.
  • Vomiting and nausea.
  • Poor motivation.

As addiction grows, the signs will be seen more often with heightened results. For example, someone with drowsiness from Vicodin may eventually be difficult to arouse if use and dosages increase over time. The effects intensifying is largely due to tolerance, which is the need to take more of the drug to achieve the same desired results. This also increases the negative and dangerous side effects associated with the substance.

Am I Addicted?

Finding out if you are addicted to Vicodin may be challenging at first. However, there are a few questions you can ask to identify your risk:


  • Have you found yourself shopping for doctors or healthcare providers to give you more?
  • Are you taking the substance without a prescription?
  • Are you going through your Vicodin more quickly than prescribed?
  • Do you need to take more and more to feel the effects of the drug (a sign of tolerance)?
  • Have you ever referred to Vicodin as your favorite drug?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable and odd without the substance? This is a sign of dependence.
  • Do you feel muscle aches when you stop taking it?
  • Do people in your life tell you that you are behaving differently?
  • Have your priorities changed because of Vicodin?

 How to Help Someone with Alcohol or Illicit Drug Addiction

Help for Prescription Drug Abuse

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Patrick Condron, M.Sc., M.A.C., is an addiction specialist and drug and alcohol counselor. He is Executive Director of Lazarus House, Inc., a transitional residential program for men and women who continue to work on their recovery towards independent living.
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