Vicodin Addiction

by on June 1, 2012

Vicodin, a semi-synthetic opioid, contains a medication called “Hydrocodone”. Hydrocodone is addictive. This disorder is called “opioid dependence”. Possible at any dose, the risk for opioid dependence goes up with stronger doses and prolonged usage. Use of any opioid for more than 10 days can cause the beginnings of opioid dependence. All addictions have a physical and psychological part.

Physical and psychological dependence (sometimes called “addiction”) is a risk when taking Vicodin. This medication is intended to be prescribed and taken for short periods of time (for example, 3-10 days); however, Vicodin has been used more and more in patients with Chronic Pain Syndromes. Other opioids used for pain  include medications like Morphine, Oxycodone, Methadone, Oxymorphone, Duragesic, Codeine, and Demerol. A majority of these medications share the same side effects and potential for addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Vicodin alone (or in combination with other prescription medications) can cause a physical dependence. A medical “sign” is something that is visible, audible or palpable (in other words, can be measured by an outside instrument). An example of a sign would be high blood pressure. Whereas a “symptom” is a more subjective interpretation of body function by the patient. Pain, nausea, and fatigue are all symptoms.

Signs of Vicodin addiction may include:

  • pale skin
  • change in blood pressure (very high or very low)
  • decreased rate of respirations
  • low blood oxygen
  • low hematocrit (sometimes called “anemia”)
  • decrease in sperm count
  • decrease in testosterone
  • weight gain

Symptoms of Vicodin addiction include:

  • intense craving for the medication
  • lack of intended effect of the medication (in other words, it stops working)
  • pain increases with continued usage of Vicodin (usually occurs after 30-60 days)
  • depression, feelings of “blue”, suicidal thoughts
  • anxiety, feelings of “worry”, panic for no reason
  • decrease in libido and sex drive
  • erectile dysfunction in men
  • fatigue, feelings of “being tired all the time”
  • obsessing about thoughts of the “next dose”
  • feelings of nostalgia about the medication, “longing for it”

Vulnerable Groups

There are a few groups of people that are particularly vulnerable to opioid dependence or an addiction to Vicodin. They include:

  • infants breast-feeding on milk from a mother who takes repeated doses of Vicodin
  • elderly who may or many not be completely in control of their medication schedules/dosing
  • persons with disabilities that may need assistance with medications
  • persons suffering from Chronic Pain Disorders
  • persons wit h musculo-skeletal illnesses or injuries that may take longer than 15 days to heal
  • persons healing from severe burns
  • persons with other chemical, alcohol, or prescription drug abuse or addiction problems
  • persons suffering from depression, anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, or other mood disorders
  • persons with insomnia