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Vicodin Abuse and Addiction

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It’s mentioned in songs, TV shows, and movies. Celebrities use it, get addicted to it, and go to rehab to get off of it. Some 20 tons of it are reportedly produced each year. The prescription pain killer, Vicodin, is among the most abused prescription drugs. In the 2006 Monitoring the Future study from the University of Michigan, Vicodin ranked second only to Marijuana in the top five drugs used by 12th graders in the past year.


Vicodin is a narcotic-type pain killer commonly prescribed for the short-term management of intense pain from injury or surgery. Its main component is hydrocodone, which is an opioid—meaning it acts on the body like a narcotic. Hydrocodone binds to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal chord, where it interrupts or alters the perception of pain.


Vicodin increases the activity of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, producing a euphoria similar to that produced by other narcotics such as morphine or heroin. This is the primary reason for the prevalence of abuse.


Dependency and Withdrawal


Prolonged use of Vicodin can result in a physical tolerance, meaning higher doses are required to achieve the same effects. It also leads to physical dependency, wherein the body adapts to the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if it is stopped.


The symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal may include restlessness, fever, sweating, chills, goose bumps, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, involuntary leg movements, sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, irritability, panic, depression, persistent headache, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.


Side Effects


In Vicodin, the opioid, hydrocodone is combined with another drug, acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol. The addition of acetaminophen acts to increase the analgesic effects and limit the intake of hydrocodone. At higher than prescribed doses, it can cause unpleasant and often unsafe side effects including damage to the liver. This is in addition to the side effects of the hydrocodone.


Common side effects of Vicodin include dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Some less common side effects are allergic reaction, blood disorders, changes in mood, mental fogginess, anxiety, lethargy, difficulty urinating, spasm of the ureter, irregular or depressed respiration, and rash. Euphoria and drowsiness are the common side effects that have led to its illicit use.


Overdose symptoms


With the uncontrolled use of euphoria-causing narcotics comes a high potential for overdose. The overdose victim may be lost in the euphoria of the drug and fail to notice the symptoms or seek help. Symptoms of a Vicodin overdose may include slow breathing, cold and clammy skin, constricted pupils, tiredness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sweating, weakness, confusion, loss of consciousness and coma. Vicodin overdose can be fatal.


As with any drug, it’s important to be fully informed. Even when prescribed and needed, Vicodin should be used with caution. Where its abuse has reached the dependency stage, Narconon has the means to full recovery—but it is far better never to have reached that stage.


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