One of the world’s most commonly prescribed narcotic analgesic is Vicodin which is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, more popularly known as paracetamol. The hydrocodone component is an opiate derivative of codeine and is primarily responsible for the painkilling effects of the drug. The acetaminophen component also has analgesic properties and serves to reduce the dosage needed for hydrocodone to provide effective pain relief. It is often indicated in the management of moderate to severe pain.
Like other opiates, Vicodin acts on the brain and spinal cord to block the transmission of pain nerve impulses. This way, the brain will not be able to perceive the presence of pain. Unfortunately, stimulation of the opiate receptors also lead to euphoric feelings which is what many people often look for and become addictive to, especially in the long run.
Because Vicodin has been dubbed as one of the most effective narcotic painkillers in the world, many doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies prescribed, administered, and dispensed sufficient quantities of Vicodin to everyone including children and the elderly giving them the ability to control their pain for a much longer period of time. Many experts considered this practice as inherently spurring the development of over-prescription. As such, it should not come as a surprise if there are reports showing that the streets and neighborhoods of the United States is actually flooded with Vicodin. The number of Vicodin prescribed has greatly increased the risk of abuse; hence, the need for Vicodin addiction treatment.
The Need for Vicodin Addiction Treatment
It should be understood that using Vicodin according to physician’s directions does not automatically lead to dependence and subsequently, addiction. The problem is that when people use these medications in a manner that is grossly different from the way they are supposed to be taken. Vicodin works to alleviate painful symptoms. Unfortunately, many tamper with the pill. Some also take Vicodin even if there is no medical need for them. Since there is an oversupply of Vicodin in American homes, they can easily ask someone else who has Vicodin for the drug. In some cases they can even buy from them. In other cases, they steal Vicodin from medicine cabinets and deprive the person who has a medical need for these kinds of drugs.
Effects of Vicodin in the Brain
Like all psychoactive substances, Vicodin affects the brain and the spinal cord where it exerts its effects. What it does is that it binds to the opiate receptors found in these organs. This effectively supplants the natural substances that normally binds to these receptors. Immediately, the person feels relaxed, calm, and experience a certain sense of peacefulness. For normal individuals who take Vicodin in the prescribed manner, these effects are very modest. What they really appreciate is the control of pain that is afforded them by the drug. However, Vicodin addicts, because they use the drug in sufficiently greater amounts and frequency, tend to have an overwhelming experience especially euphoria.
Dangers of Vicodin Overdose
Individuals who abuse and misuse Vicodin are at an increased risk of fatal overdose which can include the following:
- Heart failure
- Respiratory failure
- Liver or renal failure
In less severe Vicodin overdose reactions, the person can experience blackouts, amnesia, or even jaundice which often signals liver involvement.
Vicodin Addiction Treatment
People often fail to recognize the fact that they have grown dependent on Vicodin unless somebody else tells them to seek Vicodin addiction treatment. Individuals often abuse the drug with the belief that they can just as easily flip a switch to stop taking the drug anytime they wish. Only a few can fully appreciate the impact of withdrawal symptoms that are associated with the cessation of the drug.
This is where a comprehensive professional Vicodin addiction treatment can help. While the withdrawal symptoms may seem benign, it’s more about the long-term effects of Vicodin that many healthcare experts are worried about. Because of the acetaminophen component of the drug, prolonged use can lead to irreversible liver damage. As such, the liver may not be able to fully detoxify any remaining metabolites without supportive care from the detox program of Vicodin addiction treatment centers.
Detoxification is just the first phase of treatment as the individual is assisted in getting through the various withdrawal symptoms. More importantly, however, is that he will be supported with nutritional and psychosocial therapeutic regimens to enable him to be more successful in getting rid of the drug.
Once detox has been completed, the individual undergoes a series of therapies that will help him work out his thoughts and feelings about the experience. This enables him to have a more positive mindset which can help increase the chances of living a life that is free from addiction. Professional Vicodin addiction treatment centers always emphasize the need for evidence-based treatments. These include cognitive behavioral therapies and experiential therapies that are designed primarily to help individuals find more constructive ways to manage their life’s stresses which may have prompted them to misuse and abuse Vicodin.
For a greater chance of success at recovery, long-term addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs are a must. These programs entail a lot of counseling, group therapies, family therapies, and even behavior modification therapies that aim to enable to person to work out any unmet needs or any life event that may have triggered his addiction. It usually takes around 60 to 90 days for the person to successfully complete the program which also includes an introduction into sober living and aftercare services.
Aftercare or continuing care services are important as these help ensure the person stays committed to leading an addiction-free life once he is already out of the Vicodin addiction treatment center. The availability of community resources such as sober living communities and addiction support groups can help in this regard.
Many individuals with Vicodin addiction suffer in silence simply because they don’t know they’re addicted to the drug. It’s up to their loved ones to help them make this realization and take the first step towards recovery.