Vicodin is a combination painkiller containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Vicodin is typically used to treat postoperative or post-injury symptoms and is one of the most commonly prescribed narcotics.
Although the drug is prescribed for a short duration with the expectation that it will be discontinued as the pain subsides, individuals become addicted to the drug and begin to misuse the medication. Through chronic use, a tolerance for Vicodin is established, which can have serious consequences. It is important to know the drug interactions, side effects, precautions, and warnings prior to consuming the medication.
How Should Vicodin Be Taken?
This medication is prescribed based on a specific medical condition and should be taken as directed by a medical professional. This drug should not be taken at an increased dosage or taken for longer than it was prescribed. It is also important to discontinue the medication when advised. The typical dosage for an adult is one to two capsules or tablets every four to six hours as needed.
Stopping this medication suddenly can cause a withdrawal, which can lead to various unpleasant symptoms. In an effort to prevent a withdrawal, you will be instructed by a medical professional on how to taper off Vicodin. If taken chronically, the effects of the medication may dwindle over time, which can lead to dependence.
How Do You Know If a Loved One Is Addicted to Vicodin?
Generally speaking, once an individual becomes addicted to a substance like Vicodin, the drug takes a priority. You will notice a lot of time spent on acquiring the drugs and the resources to obtain them. This will result in less time for social activities and even neglecting employment and daily responsibilities.
Your loved one may appear to be distant and less interested in spending time with friends and family. The individual may neglect their daily schedules as it becomes more challenging to keep up with the addiction itself. You may notice that they prefer to be in isolation and may struggle with physical appearance, failing to keep up with their hygiene.
If you suspect that someone you know has an addiction, there are certain preexisting risk factors that you may want to be aware of. The individual may be susceptible to developing an addiction if:
- Their living situation is unusually stressful
- They have past trauma
- They spend time in high-risk environments
- They are suffering from mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression
- They engage in thrill-seeking activities
- Their family history is significant for substance abuse
Unfortunately, addiction not only affects one person but those around them as well. In fact, it is common for those with substance use issues to feud with family members as a result of broken promises and fractured trust. Restoration of their life before addiction and important relationships is possible with professional help at a drug rehabilitation treatment center.
Can You Overdose on Vicodin?
When taken in excessive amounts, both active ingredients in Vicodin can result in an overdose. An overdose occurs when the body reacts to the overwhelming amount of drugs consumed. While prescription opioids such as Vicodin are used legitimately for medical issues, abuse of this medication is common.
How Does a Vicodin Overdose Occur?
Excessive use of an opioid-like Vicodin causes symptoms that lead to low oxygen levels. There are two common causes that lead to an opioid overdose. Individuals who are addicted to the drug are unable to function without it, and as the user develops a dependence, they seek a more intense high. This leads to consuming too much of the drug, which can result in an overdose.
The second common cause of Vicodin overdose is unintentionally taking more than the recommended dosage. This can be due to misreading prescription labels or forgetting dosages.
There is also the risk of acetaminophen overdose because it is one of the two active ingredients in Vicodin. Acetaminophen is found in many over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen can lead to liver damage or, worse, liver failure. The recommended dosage is less than 4,000 mg in separate doses taken within a 24-hour period. Vicodin contains 325 mg of acetaminophen per tablet, placing a chronic user at a risk for both acetaminophen and opioid overdose.
What Are the Vicodin Overdose Symptoms?
Opioid overdose requires immediate attention; therefore, it is important to be able to identify the symptoms of a Vicodin overdose. The symptoms are similar to those of hydrocodone but also include symptoms that are present with excessive consumption of acetaminophen. These symptoms include:
- Incoherency or confusion
- Constricted pupils
- Loss of consciousness or coma
- Flu-like symptoms
- Severe drowsiness or comatose state
- Yellowing eyes or skin
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Difficulty or absent breathing
Respiratory depression is the most serious side effect of Vicodin overdose and is very dangerous. The lack of oxygen to the brain can result in permanent neurological issues, kidney failure, and heart failure.
What You Should Do If Someone Is Overdosing
Do not leave an individual who has potentially overdosed. Respiratory depression can worsen for an individual overdosing who is left alone unconscious. If they were to stop breathing, this might not be obvious. You should roll the individual onto their side to prevent them from choking if they were to vomit while being unconscious.
If they are conscious, attempt to keep them awake and continue to monitor them while contacting emergency services. Also, do not attempt to force the individual to vomit.
It is important to have certain information ready when calling emergency services on behalf of the individual who overdosed. This includes:
- Name of substance
- Time the substance was consumed
- The amount consumed
- If the medication was prescribed to the individual
- The current status and symptoms
Taking an excessive amount of prescription pain medication can lead to an overdose whether or not the individual struggles with addiction. If you suspect an overdose, it is imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you are unsure if the person is overdosing, it is best to treat it as such.
Medical Treatment for Vicodin Overdose
Various emergency medical treatments can be implemented in an effort to save the life of the individual suffering from an opioid overdose, including:
- Intubation or airway management to help with breathing
- Stomach pumping
- Cardiac arrest treatment if heart issues are identified
- Intravenous fluids for hydration and to balance electrolytes
- Administration of acetylcysteine to counteract acetaminophen overdose
- Naloxone administration
What Is Naloxone?
Naloxone can reverse an overdose by blocking opioid receptors in the brain. This is one of the most important and immediate treatments for an opioid overdose. Naloxone has been utilized in emergency departments for many years and has been effective in reversing opioid overdoses.
Because of the rapid growth of prescription painkiller abuse, there is a push for caregivers and emergency personnel to carry naloxone in the form of nasal sprays or injectables to help provide on-demand treatment for individuals suffering from an overdose of opioids.
Treatment with naloxone prevents the opioid drug from establishing a high up to one hour after it has been administered. If someone appears to have overdosed and is experiencing severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, administer naloxone if available. When administered early on, naloxone can reverse the overdose long enough for additional interventions to be performed.
While naloxone can be an effective treatment, there are factors that may reduce the effectiveness of fully reversing an overdose, including the amount of opioids taken, the potency of the drug, and whether it was taken with other substances. Nevertheless, seeking medical attention is crucial when an overdose occurs.
What Is the Prognosis of a Vicodin Overdose?
The most significant factor in determining the outcome is how much of the drug was consumed and how quickly treatment was administered. In some cases, being admitted into the hospital is necessary to reverse the effects of the drug and to prevent further complications, such as pneumonia, brain damage, and kidney or liver damage.
In the absence of complications, death is uncommon. However, if they do not seek medical care immediately, an overdose can result in fatality. The faster medical attention is sought, the better chance for a full recovery.
How Can I Prevent a Vicodin Overdose?
When taken in large doses, both hydrocodone and acetaminophen can be harmful. The most effective way to prevent an overdose is to take the medication exactly as it was prescribed by the doctor. It is also beneficial to take note of pain and track dosages. If your pain is reducing, it may be a good time to gradually reduce or discontinue the medication at the discretion of a medical professional.
Seeking Help After an Overdose?
An overdose is a serious, life-threatening situation, and for those who overcome an overdose, this is likely a clear indicator to seek assistance. Even if an overdose did not occur, someone with an addiction to opioid medications should consider a rehabilitation program for substance abuse disorders.
It may be difficult to encourage someone to seek treatment if they have not already indicated a desire for assistance. Recovery goes beyond stopping the addiction; the underlying issues need to be addressed. This is a burden that is often carried by loved ones. If you are witnessing telltale signs of addiction, it is important to educate yourself on the next steps you should take. Understand that it is never too late to seek help.
Is There Treatment for Vicodin Addiction?
The first step in treatment is typically a detox program where medications are administered in an effort to address withdrawal symptoms and help the client transition from physical dependence. These medications include methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine. This is coupled with support programs throughout the recovery process.
An overdose does not have to be the end result of Vicodin addiction. There are Vicodin addiction treatment options. Addictions can be difficult to overcome on your own. A treatment program such as ours provides the support, therapy, and resources needed to live a productive and sober life. If you are having difficulty discontinuing the drug, there are programs that help with withdrawal and recovery, such as our Vicodin addiction treatment program here at Granite Recovery Centers.
Recovery from addiction is possible. Here at Granite Recovery Center, we understand that treating an addiction requires compassion and patience. At our facility, we specialize in treating substance use disorders, including addiction to Vicodin.
We are a team of experts who are truly dedicated to helping our clients conquer their addiction to opioids. We take pride in providing high-quality addiction treatment services. If you or someone you love needs assistance with an addiction to Vicodin, please give us a call today to start the journey to recovery.