14 Apr Vicodin Addiction
Millions of patients are prescribed painkillers like Vicodin following a surgery or procedure, but the widely-used medication has serious long-term use risks, including addiction, dependence, and the potential for major health problems.
Known generically as hydrocodone, Vicodin is a narcotic painkiller that has gained popularity with the rise in pain clinics nationwide. Physically, a Vicodin user can rapidly develop a dependence on the drug, and a cessation of the drug will bring on symptoms of withdrawal. As the body becomes more accustomed to Vicodin, larger dosages are needed to aid with patients’ pain, strengthening the potential for physical dependence.
Some physicians consider Vicodin dependence a typical response when the drug is administered over a duration of time for a patient’s chronic pain. Patients who have used Vicodin prescriptions for long periods of time may develop the ability to use considerably higher dosages than patients who are new to the prescription.
Many patients develop an addiction to Vicodin over time; this can be a result of overuse, a family history of drug or alcohol addiction, and how a physician responds to a patient’s prescription requests. Not every patient will become addicted, but some who have past addiction problems with drugs or alcohol may be more likely to develop a Vicodin addiction. Patients who have mental health problems or illnesses may also be more likely to use Vicodin or other drugs as tools for self-medicating their mental illness symptoms.
Addiction to Vicodin, like other prescription drug addictions, brings serious consequences to the patient and their friends and family. From a health perspective, long-term use of Vicodin is linked with liver damage, a depleted immune system, and intense cravings – such as quadruple a normal dose – to achieve the pleasurable feelings the user seeks from the drug. Additional health problems include dizziness, irregular heartbeat, digestive problems, and vision disturbances. Vicodin can also cause hallucinations or coma.
For Vicodin users who become addicted to the medication as a young adult, many of these health problems that impact organs like the heart, brain, and liver can manifest or stay with them well into adulthood. Medically supervised treatment and rehabilitation is needed to overcome a Vicodin addiction, along with counseling for the patient and their family.
Vicodin use can escalate quickly through the phases of physical dependence and into addiction, in as little a timeframe as three weeks for some users. Chronic fatigue is another symptom of repeated Vicodin use, and long-term users are also more susceptible to ongoing depression and breathing problems.
The craving to return to Vicodin can be very strong, and withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. With supervised medical treatment, behavioral therapy, and counseling many patients do fully recover from Vicodin addiction and begin to heal from the long-term health and psychological effects.
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