What is Vicodin?Vicodin, the brand-name version of the combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, is one of the most addictive—and popular—drugs on the market today.
Immediate Effects and Adverse Effects of Vicodin Use
You can overdose on Vicodin at much lower doses than would be necessary with other drugs.
Vicodin is actually two different drugs, each of which interacts with your body in different ways:
- Hydrocodone: An opioid depressant that can slow down activity in your brain and central nervous system.
- Acetaminophen: Mild pain reliever.
Acetaminophen also is also a liver toxin at certain levels, which means that you can overdose on Vicodin at much lower doses than would be necessary with other drugs. Thus overdose can be a short-term effect of Vicodin use. Some other side effects include:
- Poor coordination.
- Emotional blunting.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Slowed breathing.
- Slowed heart rate.
- Changes in concentration.
- Difficulty making decisions (cognitive impairment).
- A feeling of euphoria.
- Pain relief.
It doesn't matter whether you're a prescription user or a recreational one. The short-term effects of Vicodin are roughly the same.
It's these effects that often tempt prescription users to up their dosage or continue using after the prescription has expired, thereby making them just as vulnerable to Vicodin abuse as recreational users.
Long-Term Effects of Vicodin
Over time, the effects of Vicodin use get steadily more dangerous. In addition to addiction, some of the other risks of using Vicodin include:
- New or worsening mental illness, especially depression.
- Decreased gastrointestinal motility resulting in constipation and, potentially, bowel obstruction when severe.
- Apathy and difficulty relating to others.
- Relationship and career problems.
- Cardiovascular health issues, such as blood pressure changes and blood clots.
- Poor immunity and frequent illnesses.
- Difficulty feeling "normal" without Vicodin.
- Difficulty sleeping without Vicodin.
- Changes in brain function, memory and intelligence.
- Endangering others to get Vicodin.
- Breaking the law to get Vicodin.
- Pregnancy complications.
- Vicodin is known to cause miscarriages and stillbirths, and can also lead to birth defects, preterm labor and pregnancy-related issues, such as pre-eclampsia.
To those unaccustomed to the challenges of addiction, Vicodin cravings might seem like no big deal. At first, they are.
In the early days of Vicodin use, you might think of Vicodin in much the same way you think of a shopping spree or tasty dessert—something pleasant that you don't necessarily "need."
The more you use Vicodin, the more intense the cravings become. Eventually, you may be unable to think about anything but your next fix, tempting you to break the law, harm loved ones and endanger yourself just to get another dose.
In some cases, Vicodin addiction will give way to drug seeking for harder, illicit street drugs such as heroin that, as opiates, elicit similar effects in the user.
With prolonged use of Vicodin, dependence is inevitable. Once you are dependent on Vicodin, stopping on your own is nearly impossible. Your body behaves as if you need Vicodin to survive, producing intense cravings to satisfy the urge.
Once you are dependent on Vicodin, stopping on your own is nearly impossible.
Most doctors define dependence as the defining characteristic of addiction. You can assess whether you are dependent by exploring whether you experience withdrawal symptoms.
How Vicodin Addiction Changes Your Life
When you become addicted to Vicodin, obtaining the drug becomes the controlling factor in your life, affecting your relationships, health, finances, and career.
Vicodin is notorious for its ability to lead to a sense of apathy that causes addicts to give up on all that they previously cared about. This can make your loved ones feel as if they don't matter at all, and can cause you to neglect your job, your finances, and your health.
Because withdrawal from Vicodin takes longer than withdrawal from most other drugs, the apathy can last for weeks after you quit using.
An unlucky minority of users also experience:
- Psychotic episodes.
- Aggressive behavior, potentially leading to catastrophic consequences.
Every addict is different, but the common denominator with Vicodin addiction is continuing to use the drug in spite of painful consequences. Some of the most common effects of Vicodin addiction include:
- Deteriorating performance at work or school.
- Troubled or lost relationships.
- Financial and legal problems.
- Medical problems.
- Doing things that harm others to get Vicodin.
- Not being able to remember what you said or did while under the influence of Vicodin.
Vicodin Addiction and Mental Health
Vicodin actually triggers mental illness by changing brain chemistry or creating intolerable life circumstances.
Mental illness has risen to epidemic proportions over the last few decades, affecting more than a quarter of the U.S. population.
Depression and anxiety are the most common issues though PTSD, ADHD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are becoming increasingly prevalent.
A history of mental illness increases your vulnerability to Vicodin by making life more difficult.
You may turn to Vicodin when other treatments fail, or as a form of self-medication if you cannot afford or don't want traditional treatment.
For some people, Vicodin actually triggers mental illness by changing brain chemistry or creating intolerable life circumstances. Vicodin is best known for its ability to cause depression.
In some users, the depression is permanent, even after they quit Vicodin, necessitating years of medication or therapy.
Vicodin abuse and mental illness are both treatable ailments, and treatment is often less difficult and more gratifying than you expect.
If you're struggling, don't suffer alone. You didn't ask for this and don't deserve it. Treatment can and does work.