Vicodin is a powerful pain reliever that can be prescribed to manage pain from severe injuries. Vicodin is in a class of drugs called opioids that include heroin, fentanyl, morphine, and many others. As a general rule, opioid pain relievers like Vicodin are usually safe when taken for only a short time and as prescribed by a doctor.
The problem comes when people continue to suffer, take Vicodin outside of the prescribed limits, and ultimately obtain additional doses of Vicodin illegally. In addition to pain relief, the drug can produce mind-altering effects like euphoria, so it is often abused. The abuse of Vicodin can lead to severe side effects, dependence, addiction, overdose, and even death. If you or a loved one is struggling with a dependence on Vicodin, please seek immediate help.
Short-Term Side Effects of Vicodin
Vicodin is prescribed by doctors because it effectively treats a patient’s pain. There are legitimate injuries and illnesses where Tylenol and Advil are not enough, and opioid painkillers like Vicodin are medically recommended. When you cannot control your pain, your quality of life can suffer drastically.
Along with being an effective painkiller, however, Vicodin also carries with it various other side effects due to both short-term and long-term use. These side effects can vary in seriousness and can grow worse over time. Some of the most common side effects of short-term use include:
- Slowed breathing
- Impaired judgement
- Loss of consciousness
Long-Term Side Effects of Vicodin
While some of the side effects listed above are very serious, the long-term side effects of Vicodin use can be more dangerous and life-altering. When people are addicted to a drug like Vicodin, the only way that they can feed their addictions is typically to get into the world of procuring illegal drugs. This brings a host of dangers added to the side effects related to Vicodin use.
The following is a list of more serious side effects that are seen with long-term Vicodin use:
- Slowed or irregular breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Severe muscle stiffness or twitching
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to get or keep an erection
- Irregular menstruation
- Decreased sexual desire
- Chest tightness
It is important to note these potential side effects because people who become dependent or addicted to Vicodin become masters at hiding their addictions. They come up with excuses to mislead those they love so that their addictions remain hidden. The side effects above are serious, and one of the most overlooked side effects is that the addicted individual does not seem like the person you knew before he or she started misusing Vicodin.
Can You Overdose on Vicodin?
One of the major problems with opioid use in general and Vicodin use specifically is that these drugs change the chemistry of your brain over time. In short, that means as prolonged use of Vicodin occurs, you will need a larger dose to achieve the same level of effectiveness. The problem with using larger doses is that this can easily lead to an overdose.
Many people associate an overdose with death, but that is not always the case. Vicodin is a dangerous narcotic and can lead to a lethal overdose, but a nonlethal overdoes is far more likely. A non-lethal overdose of Vicodin is still a very serious condition and should be treated immediately. Here are some signs of an overdose if one or more of these symptoms is present in a person you suspect is abusing Vicodin:
- Slowed breathing
- Slowed heart rate
- Liver failure
- Cold or clammy skin
- Blue fingers and lips
If you see any of these severe symptoms, you must act quickly. Call 911, and make sure you do not let the Vicodin user talk you out of the seriousness of the situation. An overdose can lead to death if untreated.
Recognizing Abuse of Vicodin
It can be difficult to recognize when either you or someone you love is abusing Vicodin. First of all, drug abuse signs can vary greatly depending on multiple factors, including but not limited to:
- The type of drug used
- The length of time the drug was used
- Doses prescribed vs. doses used
- Frequency of use
- The person using the drug
There are also both physical and behavioral signs to look for that point to drug addiction. Many of these signs and behaviors are present with addiction in general, regardless of the drug being used. Some of the physical signs to look for are:
- Bloodshot or glazed eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Abrupt and noticeable weight changes
- Change in perceived behaviors
Some of the behavioral signs to look for are:
- Drop in attendance or performance at work or school
- Increase in secretive or suspicious behavior
- Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, or hobbies
- Unexplained change in personality
- Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
- Appearance of being fearful, anxious, or paranoid with no reason
- Excuses for being chronically late or canceling appointments at the last minute
While these are more general warning signs for drug abuse in general, they are applicable for Vicodin specifically. Noticing these signs in a friend or loved one is difficult to begin with, and even when these signs are recognized, it is often challenging to know how severe the addiction may be.
Seeking the help of a mental health professional who adheres to the standards set in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders is an important step. This information, updated every few years, is the authority on mental illness in the United States. An expert in this field can give you an unbiased diagnosis of the severity of the addiction and what type of help is needed.
When you or a friend or loved one is struggling with an addiction to Vicodin or another drug, finding help is key. The experts at Granite Recovery Centers would love to help, but there is a often a necessary first step to get an addicted individual into a drug rehab program. If someone you love is abusing Vicodin, it is time for action; an intervention may be exactly what you need.
An intervention is simply asking for help from others to convince your loved one to get into a program that can help him or her get clean. During this event, you simply sit the person down and help him or her see how the addiction has impacted both his or her life and the lives of others. The hope is that this realization will convince the person to voluntarily seek help in the form of inpatient rehab, and that is where Granite Recovery Centers steps in.
There is a right and a wrong way to do an intervention. Trying to plan one without the help of a professional or the guidance of a counselor may do nothing more than push the person farther away from the desired goal of rehab. We would highly recommend hiring someone with great references to help walk you through this process.
We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis in America. The number of lives affected by the abuse of prescription painkillers and other addictive substances is staggering and is increasing by the year. If you find yourself or a loved one in the midst of this type of struggle, finding the right drug rehab facility is vital.
Addiction is a full-fledged disease. It affects the brain, putting it in the same category as other mental illnesses in need of medical treatment and counseling. Addiction is not a weakness, and it is not a moral failing by the person affected; it is a disease that the individual needs to be healed of.
Because no two drug addictions are the same, there is no such thing as an effective “cookie cutter” approach to beat addiction. There are numerous factors to take into account as well as many effective therapies and approaches to consider. The length of the program, its scope, the type of follow-up an individual needs, and many other considerations are things to take into account when finding the right drug rehab facility.
Inpatient or Outpatient
Maybe the most important consideration when investigating drug rehab options is whether or not inpatient rehab is needed. There are clear pros and cons to both options, but the key is deciding the right option for each situation. For instance, if a person has a supportive home life and the ability to focus all of time and strength for specific period of time on recovery, outpatient rehab could be a great option. On the other hand, if the person’s home life has been instrumental in his or her turning to drugs, then inpatient rehab is the clear choice. Other factors to consider include:
- The severity of the addiction
- What treatments health insurance will cover
- The proximity of a facility to the person’s home
- The family and job situation of the individual
More than anything else, you want to make the right decision. Individuals can find Vicodin on the streets or through a prescription, so keeping away from an enabling environment is of utmost importance during recovery. A dependency on Vicodin can lead to severe long-term consequences and even death, so getting that person the help he or she needs is more important than any other consideration.
Granite Recovery Centers
At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer a holistic approach to drug rehab. We have both inpatient and outpatient programs, and we learn about and study each person’s situation prior to laying out a plan of action. Often, a medical detox is necessary to begin the process, so our experts offer this option at our facilities. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
We can walk the addicted individual and his or her family through every step of defeating a Vicodin dependency. Drug addiction is a type of mental illness, so our professional counselors and doctors will walk through treatment of this illness with the patient. We also offer counseling for family members and friends of Vicodin users to help them understand the road to recovery that their loved one is on. There are 12-step programs, exercise programs, holistic therapies, and family involvement activities as well at our facility to help recovering individuals get back on track with their lives.
Our goal is to help a person recover from old habits that threatened his or her health and well-being. Granite Recovery Centers staff can help walk each individual down the own path to sobriety and help him or her re-enter society free from Vicodin dependency.