Vicodin Addiction Symptoms and Signs
There are a variety of methods that can be used to treat pain. Stretching, heat treatments, acupuncture and relaxation can all be employed to help people to recover from painful and debilitating conditions and feel more relaxed and at ease. However, we live in a culture in which we tend to demand pills to treat pain. As a result, we are awash in pain medications. According to an article in the journal Pain Physician, Americans make up only 4.6 percent of the world’s population yet we consume 80 percent of the world’s supply of medications for pain. Almost every medicine cabinet in the United States contains at least one type of pain pill.
Peek inside those medicine cabinets and you’re likely to see the medication Vicodin. It’s a powerful pain medication that’s often given to treat moderate levels of pain. It’s effective, powerful and easy to find. Put these three attributes together and it’s easy to see why Vicodin is also considered incredibly addictive. If you’re struggling with your abuse of Vicodin, and you’re wondering if that abuse has crossed the line into addiction, the article will give you the information you’ll need in order to make the right decisions about your future.
While it might be true that many people use Vicodin for addictive purposes, it’s also true that the drug is an effective therapy for pain. For example, a study in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine found that Vicodin was more effective in pain control than medications that contained morphine as an active ingredient. Since Vicodin is so effective, it’s unlikely that the drug will disappear from the shelves anytime in the future.
Abuse in the Office
Many people begin their journey to Vicodin addiction in their doctors’ offices. The drug is sometimes provided after routine injuries such as muscle sprains and strains, and even dentists may prescribe the medication after dental procedures. When you’re provided with a prescription for Vicodin and you take it exactly as it is prescribed, you’re not at risk for addiction. This remains true even if you take the drug for months at a time and don’t feel quite the same unless you’re taking the drug. As long as your use of Vicodin doesn’t become compulsive or damaging, it’s not considered an addiction.
On the other hand, if you are addicted to Vicodin these are just some of the behaviors you might engage in to keep your addiction alive:
- Feigning pain. Even though your original injury has resolved, you might claim that you’re in severe pain so your doctor will provide you with another prescription.
- Claiming that your pain is stronger than it truly is. You might take higher doses of Vicodin than recommended, which means you’re likely to run out of pills before it’s time for a refill. You might claim severe pain, so you can refill your drugs sooner.
- Claiming that you’ve lost your prescription or that it was stolen. To cover for the amount of drugs you’re using, you might lie and state that someone else is using your drugs.
- Refusing to change medications. After months of abuse, your doctor might try to change you to a different medication or adjust your dosage. You might respond to these suggestions with alarm or anger, claiming that you’re allergic to other medications or that only Vicodin will do.
In the past, it might have been easy for people addicted to Vicodin to keep their addictions hidden from their doctors. Little was known about prescription drug abuse, and as a consequence, it wasn’t something that doctors were consistently looking for. Much of this has changed. Now, doctors know that Vicodin is often abused, and as a result, they may be incredibly reluctant to play any part in keeping an addiction alive. This might force you to move from doctor to doctor in the hopes of finding a doctor willing to fill your prescription. This form of doctor shopping is common in Vicodin addicts, and it can be deadly. In a study published in JAMA, 21.4 percent of those studied who overdosed on prescription medications had been doctor shopping. When you begin using multiple doctors, it becomes extremely difficult for medical professionals to spot your addiction and provide you with help before you take high doses that could cost you your life.
*Vicodin in Teens: Cause for Concern
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly one in 12 high school seniors have admitted to using Vicodin for recreation. In addition, the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that even 8th grade students admit to using prescription painkillers for recreation. The adolescent mind is still growing and changing, and as a result, addictions can form incredibly quickly in young people. Using Vicodin just once could set an entire series of changes in motion that could quickly result in addiction. Your teen might be abusing Vicodin if:
- You notice pills missing from your prescription.
- Your teen developed multiple illnesses that he/she claims can only be treated with Vicodin.
- Your friends and relatives report missing Vicodin pills after your child visits.
- Your child seems unusually sedated much, if not all, of the time.
Symptoms like this are much too serious to ignore. If your child is abusing Vicodin, it’s time to make an appointment with the doctor and get the child needed help.
Changing Thoughts and Feelings
Some Vicodin addiction signs are physical. For example, as your addiction progresses, you might find that you need to take higher and higher doses of Vicodin in order to feel the same sense of elation and euphoria. Between doses of Vicodin, you might feel nervous, jittery and nauseated. In order to keep those low feelings away and make the positive feelings return, you might begin to look for ways to make the Vicodin take hold faster and provide a bigger punch. You might crush your pills and snort them, crunch them between your teeth and swallow the paste, or combine the pills with water and inject them. These are all signs that you are no longer using the drug as it is designed to be used, and that you need help for addiction.
Vicodin addiction can also be isolating and depressing. You might find it hard to connect with other people, as you’re either high or planning to get high in the very near future. Making plans for the future is hard, as much of what you will be able to do depends on your access to drugs. You might feel constipated and uncomfortable much of the time, or feel sluggish and sleepy. When people ask you why you won’t spend time with them, you might feel a surge of anger or depression.
While you might desperately want to quit, you may be unable to do so. There are a variety of reasons for this failure including:
- Persistent brain changes due to addiction that cause cravings for Vicodin
- Additional brain changes that make it hard for you to control your impulses
- Lack of insight about your addiction, making you believe that you can quit if only you’ll try hard enough
- Onset of withdrawal symptoms when you do try to quit, that force you back into Vicodin use
*Risk Factors for Addiction
While almost anyone could fall prey to a Vicodin addiction, there are some groups of people who might be at special risk for developing the disorder. For example, a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that histories of mental illness were found in 42.7 percent of people who overdosed on prescription medications. It could be that mental illnesses make you more vulnerable to addiction syndromes, or a mental illness could make an addiction much more severe than it might be if you did not have a mental illness. There is also some evidence that women are more vulnerable to painkiller addiction when compared to men. For example, a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that 29.8 percent of women reported abusing prescription painkillers, compared to 21.1 percent of men. It could be that women are prescribed painkillers more often than men, or it could be that women are more vulnerable to the addictive properties of these drugs.
The Bottom Line
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites that contain laundry lists of symptoms you can look for in order to diagnose your addiction to Vicodin. In the end, though, there are really only a few questions you need to ask yourself:
- Do you think your Vicodin use is appropriate?
- Is your use hurting you or those you love?
- Do you want to stop?
- Are you ready to get started?
Vicodin addictions can be scary, and they can be dangerous. But you also can recover. Medications can help to control cravings, and therapy can teach you how to modify your behavior. If you know you have an addiction, and you’re ready to get help, you’ve made important steps on the road to recovery. Follow up by giving us a call today. We can link you up to the best private residential vicodin addiction treatment program that can help.