If you’ve ever had surgery or have broken a bone, chances are that you may have been prescribed Vicodin. Vicodin is the brand name of the generic drug, hydrocodone. It is a prescription opioid medication that doctors give to patients to treat pain, but it has addictive properties and can be habit-forming. It can also have fatal consequences if a person overdoses.

Also sold under brand names such as Lortab and Norco, Vicodin (i.e., hydrocodone) combines a semi-synthetic opioid with a non-narcotic pain medication (e.g., acetaminophen) to reduce fever and pain. Typically, Vicodin is prescribed after a surgery or an injury, but it is also used as an antitussive, which helps to suppress a person’s cough.

How Does Vicodin work?

Vicodin acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to reduce pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and throughout the body. Opioid prescription medications such as Vicodin dampen the pain signals sent throughout the nervous system to reduce the perception of and emotional response to pain.

The brain’s reward system also plays a major role in opioid addiction, including addiction to Vicodin, by increasing the release of a brain chemical called dopamine, which causes users to feel euphoric and pleasurable effects. The ability of Vicodin to affect the brain’s reward system is one of the primary reasons why people repeatedly take the drug.

Side Effects of Vicodin Abuse

The most common side effects of Vicodin include dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, sedation and constipation. Although these side effects may be unpleasant, they are rarely dangerous. Vicodin can also dangerously slow a person’s breathing. At high enough doses, Vicodin can lead to seizures, overdoses, respiratory failure and death.

Other short-term effects of Vicodin include:

  • Relaxation
  • Nervousness
  • Mental clouding
  • Mood changes
  • Muscle spasms, pain or stiffness
  • Joint and abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Faintness
  • Slowed respiration
  • Urinary retention
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Ringing in ears
  • Problems with sleep
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Kidney or adrenal gland problems
  • Acute liver failure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Rash or hives
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations

Effects of Vicodin abuse

Tolerance, or the need to take more of a drug to achieve the same effects, develops quickly in people who take narcotic drugs such as Vicodin. Tolerance is a major reason why people commonly develop physical dependence after taking the drug for only a couple days, even when the drug is taken as prescribed. The chronic abuse of opioids can eventually impair the body’s ability to naturally reduce pain.

Long-term effects of Vicodin abuse include:

  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Loss of coordination
  • Attention problems
  • Judgment lapses
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Collapsed veins
  • Coma
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction
  • Compromised immune system
  • Death

Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms

Chronic Vicodin use can contribute to withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to reduce the dosage or stop taking the drug completely. Vicodin withdrawal symptoms make it difficult for people to stop using the drug and may include:

  • Irritability
  • Racing heart
  • Fast breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hot flashes and chills
  • Goose bumps
  • Muscle cramps
  • Involuntary leg movements
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Panic

Signs Of Vicodin Addiction

Vicodin misuse occurs when a person takes the drug without a prescription, longer than intended, or takes higher doses than prescribed. Vicodin abuse increases the risk for developing an opioid use disorder, also referred to as Vicodin addiction.

The signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction may become more noticeable as this disease worsens. Some of the signs of Vicodin addiction include:

  • Drug-seeking behavior
  • Compulsive drug use
  • Secretive behavior
  • Spending excessive time and energy to obtain and use drugs
  • Denial and/or stealing
  • Continued drug use despite negative consequences that result
  • Physical dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms
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Vicodin Addiction Treatment at Sovereign Health

Sovereign Health of Arizona’s Vicodin addiction treatment program in Chandler provides comprehensive treatment programs to women with opioid use disorders. Vicodin abuse and addiction are serious problems that can be alleviated with the proper treatment. Sovereign Health of Chandler, Arizona, which specializes in the treatment of trauma, provides women with evidence-based, complementary and experiential treatments for women with Vicodin addiction.

We offer treatment options such as equine therapy, eye-movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and neurofeedback to help women overcome Vicodin addiction. We also offer comprehensive behavioral health treatment programs to women who have mental health conditions, such as depression, and co-occurring disorders.

For further information about the treatment of women with Vicodin addiction at Sovereign Health of Arizona’s Chandler facility, please call our 24/7 helpline.

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