Vicodin Abuse Information

Understanding Vicodin Addiction

Learn About Vicodin Addiction & Abuse

Vicodin is a type of opioid prescription pain medication that is made out of a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. While acetaminophen in and of itself is not an addictive substance, when combined with hydrocodone, which is a narcotic painkiller, it becomes much more potent and its effects become much more addictive.

Vicodin serves the purpose of relieving moderate to severe chronic or acute pain in individuals who are struggling with such. As it depresses the central nervous system, Vicodin impacts users by hindering their ability to feel pain while simultaneously bringing about feelings of contentment, relaxation, and overall wellbeing. In some cases, it can also induce the sensation of being detached from one’s surroundings. Due to the pleasant effects that can result from the use of Vicodin, many people find that they begin to use the substance in greater quantities or in higher dosages than they were originally prescribed. Additionally, individuals who do not possess prescriptions for this medication may be enticed by the pleasant sensations that this substance produces and therefore begin using the substance illegally, without having a medical reason for doing so. Unfortunately, regardless of whether someone is taking Vicodin for medical purposes or for recreational purposes, it is a substance that can cause tolerance and addiction to develop at a rapid pace. Once individuals have begun using this drug in such a manner that it negatively impacts their ability to function appropriately, they have likely developed Vicodin use disorder that will require professional treatment.


Vicodin Abuse Statistics

As one of the most commonly prescribed painkillers in the United States, an estimated 139 million prescriptions for Vicodin were filled in 2010 alone, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The frequency with which this medication is distributed directly correlates with the prevalence of its abuse among individuals of all ages, which is said to have quadrupled over the past decade.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Vicodin Abuse

The causes and risk factors that can contribute to the onset of Vicodin use disorder are discussed briefly in the following:

Genetic: Hereditary influences are said to play a significant role in determining an individual’s vulnerability to developing Vicodin use disorder. When individuals have a family history of opioid abuse and addiction, they are more likely to develop similar addiction struggles than are people who do not have the same type of genetic background. Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) notes that the presence of certain personality characteristics, such as being novelty-seeking or highly impulsive, is genetic and can have an influence on a person’s decision to begin abusing drugs like Vicodin.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of Vicodin abuse or addiction
  • Personal history of abusing other substances
  • Family history of other types of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Having a novelty-seeking personality
  • Having an impulsive temperament
  • Being in an environment where Vicodin or other substances are used
  • Having easy access to obtaining Vicodin
  • Suffering from a condition that warrants the prescribing of Vicodin

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse

When individuals are abusing Vicodin, the symptoms that they display will inevitably vary. Examples of possible signs and symptoms that may be displayed by someone suffering from Vicodin use disorder can include, but are not limited to, the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Visiting multiple doctors so that multiple Vicodin prescriptions can be obtained
  • Compulsive, prolonged use of Vicodin, despite attempts to stop
  • No longer spending time with friends and family members
  • No longer performing to the expected standard at work or school
  • No longer taking care of responsibilities at home
  • No longer engaging in activities or hobbies that were once considered important or significant
  • Slurred speech
  • Using Vicodin in dangerous situations, such as driving while high

Physical symptoms:

  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Overwhelming cravings for Vicodin
  • Memory disturbances
  • Impaired judgment
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Attention difficulties
  • Suicidal ideation

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • No longer finding interest in things once interested in
  • Depression
  • Dysregulation of mood
  • Feelings of euphoria followed by a state of apathy


Effects of Vicodin Abuse

The ongoing abuse of Vicodin can render individuals susceptible to suffering from a number of negative effects in all areas of their lives. Examples of such effects may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Destroyed marriages or partnerships
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Decline in academic performance, possibly resulting in academic failure, suspension, or expulsion
  • Decline in occupational performance, possibly resulting in demotion, job loss, or chronic unemployment
  • Financial turmoil
  • Anoxia, or suffering from an oxygen deficiency in the body’s tissues
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • Decreased gastrointestinal activity
  • Liver damage
  • Dry nose and mouth
  • Impaired visual acuity
  • Onset of new, or worsening of current, mental illness symptoms

Co-Occurring Disorders

Vicodin Abuse & Co-Occurring Disorders

Individuals who struggle with the compulsion to continuously abuse opioids like Vicodin may be at risk for suffering from symptoms of various additional mental health conditions at the same time. Examples of different disorders that have been known to co-occur alongside Vicodin use disorder include:

  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Stimulant use disorder
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Tobacco use disorder
  • Other substance use disorders

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Vicodin Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Vicodin withdrawal: When the consumption of Vicodin comes to an abrupt end, individuals will experience an uncomfortable period of withdrawal. This withdrawal period occurs as their bodies become accustomed to no longer having the substance present in their systems. Vicodin withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful, and may include the following symptoms and effects:

  • Muscle aching
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Chronic flowing of tears
  • Yawning
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Dysphoric mood

Effects of Vicodin overdose: Ingesting more Vicodin than one’s body can safely metabolize can result in an overdose. Because Vicodin is a substance that elicits dependence after continued use, individuals frequently increase the amount of the substance that they consume in order to achieve the effects that they desire. With this increase in ingestion comes an increase for overdose, as individuals may not be aware of how much their bodies can handle. If an overdose occurs, medical treatment should be sought immediately in order to prevent a tragic outcome. Signs that could indicate that someone has overdosed on Vicodin may include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Alterations in speech patterns
  • Labored breathing
  • Seizures
  • Cold, clammy skin

Take a Free Online Assessment

An assessment is an important first step toward treatment of and recovery from addiction.