Every year, thousands of individuals struggle with an addiction to some type of prescription painkiller. One of the most popular prescription drugs that is abused in the United States is Vicodin, an opiate analgesic that is routinely prescribed for pain management. An addiction to Vicodin often starts through a legitimate prescription, over time transforming into a powerful physical and psychological dependency.

In this article, we’ll explore what treatment options exist for Vicodin addiction. Understanding what Vicodin addiction treatment options exist can help you or your loved one make an informed decision about the programs and resources available to you.

Alongside understanding what type of help you can get is understanding when to get help in the first place. Recognizing the signs of when your Vicodin use has become problematic can be an important first step towards getting the help you need.

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is the brand name for a combination of the drugs hydrocodone and acetaminophen. A common question asked is “is Vicodin an opioid?”Hydrocodone is actually an opiate analgesic that is roughly 7 times as powerful as codeine, another opiate that is routinely used for the treatment of mild to moderate pain. Like codeine, Vicodin is an opiate analgesic, meaning a medication that is used to treat pain.

Vicodin has two common uses. One is for the short-term treatment of moderate to severe pain, such as pain following surgery. The second use is for pain management of chronic health conditions. Vicodin comes in different formulations. These are most often 5, 7.5, or 10 milligrams of hydrocodone paired with 300 milligrams of acetaminophen. When it is prescribed, Vicodin is often taken every 4-6 hours for pain management.

Vicodin is a Schedule II drug. “Drug scheduling” is the method through which the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) categorizes drugs based on their medical use and their potential for substance abuse. There are five categories, or “Schedules”, that a drug can be placed into. Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse. To put the placement of Vicodin in perspective, Schedule I drugs include heroin, ecstasy, and peyote. Schedule II includes Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, fentanyl, Ritalin, and others that you may have heard of.

Essentially, Schedule II drugs have a high potential for substance abuse and can easily lead to physical and psychological dependence. With that said, many of the drugs that are Schedule II, including Vicodin, also have some accepted medical use.

Treatment Options

If you or a loved one is addicted to Vicodin, gaining a better understanding of the treatment options available to you can be an important step towards recovery. Although Vicodin is a prescription opiate, many people who are dealing with a Vicodin addiction find that quitting suddenly, often referred to as “cold-turkey”, simply isn’t an option. Quitting the use of any opiate, including Vicodin, suddenly will result in the onset of Vicodin withdrawal symptoms that can be both intense and agonizing.

Like other opiates, the abuse of Vicodin over time will result in a powerful psychological and physiological dependence on the drug. This dependence, combined with the difficult withdrawal symptoms that occur once use of the drug has stopped, make relapse a very common occurrence.

Due to the difficulty that many people have in kicking their Vicodin habit, a structured treatment program tends to be the most effective method of overcoming a Vicodin addiction. Broadly speaking, there are two different Vicodin addiction programs that can help you or your loved one get clean. The first is an inpatient program, and the second is an outpatient treatment program. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two treatment options.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment for Vicodin Addiction

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs share many of the same features which make them great for treating an addiction to Vicodin. They both offer access to medical professionals throughout the duration of the program. Participants will also go through therapy sessions, counseling, and skills building courses.

In general, an inpatient or residential treatment program is:

  • More secure than an outpatient treatment program.
  • Offers a higher degree of medical supervision.
  • Usually preceded by a medically supervised detox component.
  • A time commitment, lasting between 30-90 days.

In contrast, an outpatient program:

  • May or may not have a detox program.
  • Has a more flexible schedule.
  • Gives you access to the same types of therapy and counseling sessions.
  • May be less intensive.

The main difference between these two types of treatment programs is that inpatient programs require the individual in recovery to reside in the treatment facility for the duration of the program. With programs lasting anywhere between 1-3 months, this represents a significant time commitment. A substantial positive benefit of this commitment is that there is far less likely that you will relapse during your time in the treatment facility. Isolated from access to Vicodin or the social circles or life circumstances that promote its use, residential treatment programs offer the most secure way to go through the recovery process.

The flexibility that outpatient treatment programs offer is one of their greatest assets, yet this flexibility comes at the cost of less security during the recovery process. While you are typically involved in the same types of therapies and counseling that an individual in an inpatient program would take part in during the day, at night you will return home. This makes outpatient programs ideal for individuals that have employment or childcare obligations. At the same time, the temptation to return to using Vicodin again when you return home at the end of the night can be a significant hurdle.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

One of the primary challenges facing individuals who want to kick their Vicodin habit is the prospect of withdrawal. Withdrawal from opiates is not easy, and in many cases, the onset of withdrawal symptoms serves as a strong encouragement to return to using opiates again. The prospect of withdrawal symptoms also discourages many individuals who abuse opiates from getting the help they need.

With the severity of opiate withdrawal in mind, managing and minimizing the withdrawal process from opiates is an important factor in how successful a treatment program is. Because of this, many treatment programs are beginning to utilize medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to ease the transition off of opiates. At its core, MAT is simple. Individuals who are addicted to opiates will be given a medication that is both safe and controlled, yet offers relief from the physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

There are three medications that are approved for use in MAT programs. These are methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

 

  • Methadone / Buprenorphine – Both methadone and buprenorphine work the same way. Essentially, both drugs make the brain think it is still getting opiates. This allows you to completely avoid withdrawal effects, while also reducing cravings for opiates.
  • Naltrexone – Naltrexone has a different effect than both other drugs used in MAT. Naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opiates, preventing the individual that is taking the drug from getting high. Whereas buprenorphine and methadone activate opioid receptors in the body, naltrexone binds and blocks the opioid receptors.

 

MAT programs are highly structured, and not every treatment facility is approved for MAT. Both buprenorphine and methadone have some degree of abuse potential, so ensuring that individuals aren’t still taking opioids while going through MAT is an important component of these programs. Naltrexone has its own risks, particularly if a relapse occurs. Due to these factors, you’ll want to consult with a medical professional who understands opioid use disorder before deciding if this type of treatment for Vicodin addiction is right for you.

When to Seek Help

One barrier standing in the way of more people getting the help they need to overcome their Vicodin addiction is the fact that Vicodin is often prescribed for legitimate medical conditions. Many individuals who struggle with an addiction to Vicodin begin using the drug when it is prescribed for them by their doctor. Eventually, the use of Vicodin begins to go exceed what it was originally prescribed for.

While the prescribed use of Vicodin is one pathway to addiction, there are others. Vicodin remains a drug that is frequently abused recreationally. This is due in part to its wide availability. Put another way, there are so many prescriptions that exist for Vicodin that it is easy to find, cheap, and continually available. This makes it a common drug of abuse along with other recreational drugs.

Here are some important indicators that your use of Vicodin has become problematic.

  • Exceeding the dosage as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Using Vicodin after a medical need as ceased.
  • Having cravings for Vicodin.
  • Vicodin use is impacting your career, personal relationships, or financial stability.
  • Changing your life to accommodate your ongoing Vicodin use.
  • Continuing to use Vicodin when it has put you in danger.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking Vicodin.
  • Taking more Vicodin over time because you are developing a tolerance.

If you realize that your Vicodin use has become a problem, it may be time to consider getting some help. Many individuals who are struggling with a Vicodin addiction find the resources and support they need in a recovery program. Though the prospect of Vicodin addiction rehab may be daunting, it is important to recognize when you need help.

What to Expect During Detox and Treatment

Although Vicodin detox can be an intimidating process, rest assured that going through medical detox will be a different experience than simply quitting Vicodin cold-turkey. Most treatment programs for Vicodin addiction will include some type of detox program. After you are admitted to your detox program your vital signs will be monitored and you’ll most likely be given a medication to help ease withdrawal symptoms.

Once your withdrawal symptoms have been sufficiently managed you’ll begin your recovery program. Recovery programs are structured around a series of activities that you’ll take part in. These will include rehab therapies which you or your loved one will participate in, helping to uncover the underlying issues that gave rise to your addiction. You’ll also take part in a variety of counseling sessions which may take part individually or as part of a group.

If you are in an inpatient rehab program you’ll stay engaged with the rehabilitation process throughout the duration of the stay. After your program has ended, you’ll transition to life outside of the rehab center. Treatment doesn’t necessarily end when your program ends. You’ll have access to the resources you’ll need to stay clean for the long-term.

Of course, an important part of this process is the people you’ll be around. At Apex Recovery you’ll be surrounded by compassionate staff that can help guide you through the recovery process while ensuring that your treatment is effective. Individuals in recovery will also be surrounded by others who are also on their own personal journey to sobriety. You’ll be able to connect with others, learn from their setbacks and successes, and build out your support network in the process.

Final Thoughts

Achieving and maintaining sobriety from an addiction to Vicodin is a challenging process. Recognizing when you need help is an important first step to long-term recovery. If your Vicodin use has created problems in your life or expanded beyond the amount you were prescribed for, it may be time to seek out a treatment plan.

There are a variety of different treatment options available for Vicodin addiction. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs offer resources and support that can help you get sober. You’ll also learn techniques and strategies that you can use to help stay that way, while you address the underlying issues that gave rise to your addiction in the first place.

Finding the right program for you is an important component of successfully navigating the recovery process. Though many people who struggle with an addiction to Vicodin worry about the withdrawal process, programs that offer medication-assisted treatment can eliminate withdrawal symptoms and minimize cravings. This allows you to fully focus on the recovery process.

While recovery can seem daunting, it is a first important step on the journey to sobriety. To learn more about what treatment options are available for you, please contact Apex Recovery today.

Sources

  1. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/opiate
  2. https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling
  3. https://www.addictioncenter.com/opiates/hydrocodone/vicodin/
  4. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment