The opioid analgesic Vicodin has become the face of the current opioid abuse epidemic in the United States. Commonly prescribed for moderate to severe pain, as well as conditions that are characterized by chronic pain, Vicodin has become one of the front line prescription drugs used for pain management in the United States. The dark side of this widespread usage has been an enormous increase in the number of people who are struggling with Vicodin addiction.

Though there is a growing recognition of the dangers posed by long-term use of opioid medications like Vicodin, there still remains a lack of information regarding how to overcome Vicodin addiction. In response to this lack of information, we’ve put together some insights that may help you or your loved one in overcoming Vicodin addiction.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most effective ways to overcome an addiction to Vicodin. In truth, many people who are struggling with an addiction to Vicodin may need the assistance of professionals that are familiar with helping individuals navigate the opioid recovery process. We’ll take a look at the different treatment options for Vicodin addiction, and weigh the pros and cons of those treatment options.

What is Vicodin?

You might have wondered if Vicodin is an opioid drug. In fact, Vicodin is the brand name for an opioid analgesic containing a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. An analgesic is simply a drug that is used to treat pain. Vicodin is one of many combination drugs that pair the drug hydrocodone, an opioid, with a second drug such as acetaminophen.

When we speak about Vicodin addiction, we are really talking about an addiction to hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic. Roughly 7 times as strong as codeine, another common opioid analgesic, hydrocodone remains a popular drug for the treatment of moderate to severe pain.

Like other drugs in the opioid family, hydrocodone helps relieve pain by interacting with opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. These receptors essentially muffle the intensity of pain signals, while also having an impact on the area of the brain responsible for controlling emotion. Taken together, these two actions enable opioids to reduce felt pain.

The use of opiates to minimize pain or treat other conditions has occurred for centuries. However, modern synthetic opiates such as morphine bear little resemblance to the natural substances from which they are derived. Other commonly abused opiates include heroin, codeine, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Heroin is perhaps the most well-known opiate on the planet, given its illicit nature and a high potential for abuse. What is often overlooked is that, on a chemical level, hydrocodone is similar to heroin, and interacts with the body in much the same way albeit at a much weaker level.

Vicodin, Prescriptions, and Abuse

Vicodin remains one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Given this, one might think that there are relatively few risks associated with taking this medication. While it is true that millions of Americans take Vicodin every day to treat chronic pain, there is less distance between the prescribed use of this pain reliever and opiate addiction than one might think.

Nowhere can this link be more clearly seen than in the current opioid crisis that is gripping the United States. The link between the use of opiates for a prescribed condition and later illicit use of opiate drugs has become increasingly clear as more research has been done on the topic. While this has had a number of impacts, one of these is an effort to limit opioid prescriptions.

While it is important to note that an individual can develop an addiction to Vicodin even if they are taking it as prescribed, it is equally important to avoid demonizing the use of Vicodin in all situations. For many conditions, the prescribed use of Vicodin is not only understandable but may be necessary. What is crucial is to recognize when the use of Vicodin has crossed the line into problematic behavior, and alongside this recognition getting the help you or your loved one needs to overcome their prescription drug addiction.

One of the challenges facing both users of prescription pain medication and the health system, in general, is accurately communicating the risk factors associated with the use of certain medications. This is true of all prescription medications but is particularly relevant in regards to prescription drugs that are commonly misused such as stimulants, tranquilizers, and opiate pain relievers. The common misconception is that prescription drugs pose less risk for addiction and substance abuse than illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine. This is simply not accurate, as the data shows.

  • According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, roughly 2 million people in the United States misused prescribed pain relievers such as Vicodin for the first time in the year prior, totally over 5,000 people per day.
  • In total, roughly 18 million people misused some type of prescription medication in the previous year.

As the misuse of prescription pain relievers such as Vicodin has risen over time, in recent years efforts have been made to reduce the availability of these drugs. One of the primary reasons that many people abuse prescription drugs is due to their easy availability. In this vein, the number of prescription opioid pain relievers dropped 21 percent from January 2017 to August 2018. This is a major step in combating the current opioid crisis which took the lives of over 130 people per day in 2017. Alongside reducing the number of prescriptions that exist for opioid pain relievers, the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has risen. While this bodes well for reducing the number of deaths associated with opiates, the continued abuse of prescription pain relievers like Vicodin will remain a difficult issue to address in the years to come.

Getting Help

Overcoming an addiction to Vicodin isn’t easy, but it is possible. Extended use or abuse of Vicodin will result in powerful chemical dependency and addiction over time. Though not as potent as other opiate analgesics like heroin or morphine, Vicodin nonetheless remains an opiate. This means that it has a high potential for substance abuse, and once a chemical dependency has been established you will experience Vicodin withdrawal symptoms once you have stopped taking the drug.

Like other opiates, individuals who abuse Vicodin will begin to develop a tolerance for the drug within a relatively short period of time. Their tolerance requires them to take more of this pain medication in order to feel the same level of effects. At the same time, cessation once a high tolerance has been developed can result in the onset of particularly acute opiate withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms alone can encourage the individual going through withdrawal to return to the use of opiates.

In order to have the best chances for a successful long-term recovery, it is important to get help to overcome your addiction. Though Vicodin is a prescription drug, individuals who have been abusing Vicodin will almost certainly experience withdrawal symptoms. They will also experience a strong desire to continue using Vicodin. In addition to these physiological and psychological responses to withdrawal, it is important to also treat the underlying issues that gave rise to addiction in the first place.

A central component to overcoming a Vicodin addiction is access to the resources and guidance that can help you or your loved one navigate the process. While there is no “right” way to overcome a Vicodin addiction, for many people the only successful method involves a structured treatment program. The reason for this is because treatment programs have resources that allow an individual to minimize the discomfort associated with withdrawal, as well as enable the individual going through recovery to work closely with medical professionals to uncover and unpack the issues that gave rise to their drug addiction. Taken together, these two factors can have a substantial impact on the effort to overcome a Vicodin addiction.

There are two primary types of treatment programs available that can help you or your loved one overcome an addiction to Vicodin. The first is an inpatient treatment program. Otherwise referred to as a residential treatment program, inpatient treatment offers the highest level of rehab care available and nearly constant access to resources that can help you or your loved one overcome your addiction. A second common option is an outpatient treatment program. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

An inpatient or residential treatment program is a treatment option where you physically reside in the treatment facility for the duration of the program. The first portion if an inpatient program is usually a medically supervised Vicodin detox process. Once medical detox has been completed, residents in the program will take part in guided therapy sessions. These rehab sessions can help unpack the underlying factors that gave rise to an addiction. These therapy sessions also allow individuals in recovery to learn new tools for navigating periods of discomfort and stress following treatment, as well as gain a better understanding of their own internal emotional landscape. Family and group therapy sessions can be particularly helpful in helping to mend the damage done as a result of their addiction.

In addition to therapy, most inpatient recovery programs require residents to take part in skills building courses. The intention of these courses is usually to help enable residents to easily transition to sober living outside of the facility. An added benefit of these courses is that they can introduce you to new hobbies, new outlooks, and new ways of doing things.

Inpatient treatment programs typically last from 30 to 90 days. This alone makes inpatient treatment programs not right for everyone. A residential treatment program may be right for you if you have tried to quit Vicodin before and failed, or you have special considerations that warrant the extra level of care that a residential treatment program offers.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

The second option for people seeking to overcome a Vicodin addiction is to enroll in an outpatient treatment program. Outpatient treatment programs usually offer access to the same types of treatment modalities and skills courses that inpatient programs offer. Some outpatient treatment programs even have a residential detox portion at the beginning of treatment to allow you to undergo detox in a medically managed setting.

Where outpatient treatment programs differ from a comparable inpatient program is in the residency requirement. Unlike a residential treatment program, attendees of an outpatient treatment program are able to leave the facility each day. Most outpatient programs will require the individual in recovery to be at the facility during the day to attend courses or therapy, and allow them to leave at the end of the day. This flexibility is ideal for individuals that have other commitments that require them to be home, such as childcare.

Closing Thoughts

If you are struggling with an addiction to Vicodin, you aren’t alone. Millions of people in the United States begin to abuse Vicodin each year. Vicodin use can result in a strong chemical dependency and addiction, even when used according to prescribed guidelines.

 

Although overcoming an addiction to Vicodin can be difficult, it is important to keep in mind that it is an achievable goal. With the right help and resources, you or your loved one can overcome your addiction to Vicodin and lead a life of sobriety. For many people that use Vicodin, there are two hurdles that stand in their way of sobriety. The first is recognizing that they have an addiction in the first place. The second hurdle is connecting with the resources and people that can help you get clean.

 

For many people struggling with an addiction to Vicodin and other opioid pain relievers, a treatment program offers them the best chances for a successful long-term recovery. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs have advantages and disadvantages, and choosing between them should be done in close consultation with a qualified medical professional specializing in addiction.

 

To learn more about the treatment options available for Vicodin addiction, please contact Apex Recovery today. Our knowledgeable and compassionate staff can help guide you through the steps you need to take so that you or your loved one can get the help they need to overcome their Vicodin addiction.

Sources

  1. https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2014/08/04/vicodin-withdrawal-symptoms-duration/
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/where-can-i-get-further-information-about-prescription-drug-misuse
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse
  4. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2018/09/19/hhs-awards-over-1-billion-combat-opioid-crisis.html