Vicodin is a pain relieving medication available under different brand names and generic names. Legally prescribed for treating mild to moderate pain symptoms, it definitely works in easing pain sensation. But the unfortunate part is, many people become physically and psychologically dependent on this drug, even when they don't need it anymore. Overtime, this leads to Vicodin abuse and addiction. Here, we shall focus on some Vicodin addiction facts and information.
Facts about Vicodin Addiction
The analgesic drug, Vicodin, is formulated by combining hydrocodone (a synthetic version of codeine) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Concentration of hydrocodone is far lesser than that of acetaminophen. The main objective behind combining the two painkillers is to give an analgesic effect through varied therapeutic actions. By doing so, the dosage intake of both the medications required for getting desired pain relief is reduced significantly.
The Vicodin component, acetaminophen, boosts the potency of hydrocodone. As we all are aware, both the ingredients of Vicodin are pain relievers on their own, and are accompanied with adverse reactions. When misused by a patient, this opioid analgesic poses high risk of causing psychological dependency and low to moderate risk of physical dependency. Thus, in the United States, it is classified under the Schedule III medications.
Vicodin is prescribed for a wide range of medical problems, like severe cough, acute pain, chronic pain, injuries, cancer, chronic illnesses and also, to soothe pain in post surgery patients. There is no specific period for administering this opioid analgesic drug. Patients are directed to pop 1-2 pills when needed. Regarding safe dosage of Vicodin, 8 tablets (each containing 5 mg hydrocodone and 500 mg acetaminophen) can be taken per day.
Initially, people advocate it for genuine reasons, i.e., to soothe unbearable pain. After the prescription period is over, users of this opioid analgesic experience irritability, denial, restlessness, cravings and obsession. In short, they show worrying symptoms of chemical dependency. Hence, it is not unusual for users to make excuses and get another prescription for Vicodin. Thus, they become Vicodin abusers and then get addicted to it.
Just like other opioid based drugs, the effects of Vicodin decrease with time, may be within a few weeks of taking it continuously. The initial dose prescribed by the doctor is no longer effective to reduce pain, as it should. Such a case is called physical tolerance to Vicodin. Thus, patients tend to take pills more frequently, or more number of pills than the prescribed dosage.
One of the saddening Vicodin addiction facts is that people who have been using this drug for a long time need to take about 100 pills or more to get the desired medication effect. Vicodin abusers may ingest the pills directly, or they are chewed to get desirable effects. Some prefer crushing the tablet first for snorting. Stress of any kind is a major contributing factor to becoming dependent on Vicodin.
This oral analgesic drug alters the mood and manipulates the way one thinks. Overall, the effects of prescription Vicodin addiction on the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the drug abuser are potentially dangerous, of which some are life-threatening too. The acetaminophen used in Vicodin formulation leads to liver damage and failure, when taken in increased doses. Dangers of misusing Vicodin include unconsciousness, pupil constriction, breathing obstruction and at times, death.
Regarding Vicodin addiction statistics, the number of people becoming dependent on this painkiller is increasing at an alarming rate in recent times. According to a 2006 survey on prescription drug addiction, about 6.4 million Americans had misused painkillers at some point of their life, of which a majority of them were related to Vicodin abuse. The afflicted people included people of all ages, even those who were above 12 years old.
Many people use Vicodin with alcohol, which further increases the risks of medical complications. A stage comes, when Vicodin users want to stop taking this drug, but are unable to do so. Vicodin addicts require treatment in rehabilitation centers, where they undergo detoxification process, and are prescribed therapeutic medicines to overcome withdrawal symptoms. According to the existing condition, additional therapies are purported to help a patient survive without Vicodin.
To conclude, addiction to this pain reliever is a serious issue, which should not be neglected at any cost. In order to minimize the probability of becoming dependent on this painkiller, every patient should take this drug under strict medical supervision. If the prescribed dosage is not effective enough to relieve pain, one should discuss with the concerned doctor first, instead of increasing the daily intake dose. For Vicodin addicts, early treatment is a necessity to avoid complications and ensure prompt recovery.