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Article Summary


Vicodin is a prescription analgesic, which means it is prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain for individuals with injuries, post surgery, etc. It contains two major compounds which are both pain relievers, one of them being the common over-the-counter drug acetaminophen along with the powerful opioid narcotic hydrocodone. While the drug has many benefits for individuals who are in needed of pain relief for legitimate reasons, the risks associated with abuse and dependence are extremely high due to the fact that it is an opioid much like heroin for example. In fact, individuals who abuse street opiates such as heroin often rely on Vicodin and other prescription opioids to continue their habit. Likewise, there are many examples of legitimate Vicodin users who have been prescribed the drug for pain becoming dependent and addicted to it without any prior history of substance abuse.

Vicodin Effects

Vicodin's effects can be extremely euphoric and pleasant, much like a mild heroin high when taken in moderate doses. In high doses, the effects are more pronounced and can be almost identical to a heroin high. In even higher doses, individuals can overdose on the drug and experience serious side effects such as respiratory depression which could be fatal. So just because Vicodin is a prescription drug doesn't mean it is safe, and abuse of this powerful narcotic carries the same risks as abuse of any other opiate drug. Unfortunately there is a serious prescription drug epidemic with pain killers such as Vicodin being at the forefront of this problem. Many are under the illusion that these drugs are safer than illicit street drugs, and popping a pill here and there soon turns into a full blown addiction. The prescription drug epidemic spreads across all races and strata of society from poverty stricken areas to doctors and soccer moms.

There are many dangers involved when abusing Vicodin, and these dangers are often disregarded or simply not known about when someone is dead set on getting high off of this powerful drug. One of these dangers is the risk of overdose. With Vicodin in particular, the risks of overdose aren't only a factor because of the hydrocodone component but also due to the acetaminophen component as well. Hydrocodone is an opiate and severe side effects can occur when taking too high of a dose. Someone can overdose very easily on Vicodin for example if they haven't built up a tolerance to the hydrocodone component of the drug and could potentially experience an opiate overdose. One dose of Vicodin for a chronic user may be a potentially fatal dose for a new user because they haven't built up a tolerance to opiate drugs.

Vicodin Overdose

Vicodin overdose because of the acetaminophen component of the drug is very common, and if this doesn't result in death it can at the very least result in irreversible organ damage or worse. You see, acetaminophen is metabolized solely by the liver. If an individual takes too much acetaminophen they can suffer liver damage so there is a risk of fatal overdose due to hepatoxicity. Because alcohol is also solely metabolized by the liver, these risks are compounded when individuals abuse Vicodin along with alcohol as is often the case. Taking acetaminophen, with Vicodin or otherwise, along with alcohol can also cause serious kidney damage and damage to the lining of the stomach.

In fact, most individuals who abuse Vicodin are also very likely abusing it along with other substances including alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, methylphenidate, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and other medications. So individuals who mix drugs willy-nilly are putting themselves at a very high risk of serious health consequences, or a fatal overdose because of potentially harmful drug interactions. Unfortunately, many individuals who are abusing Vicodin and other substances to such an extent aren't aware of this dangers and simply don't care. It is like any other addiction, and individual's caught up in it lose sight of their own health, well being and anything else which was previously and should still be important in their lives. It can truly take over and individuals soon find themselves shopping for doctors who will give them a prescription for this or that imaginary ailment, or writing bad checks to fund their habit. Because it is like any other addiction, individuals will often need professional help to be able to kick Vicodin addiction.

Many will try to quit on their own and relapse, so this is not an effective method of quitting. Professional help in a drug rehab setting is recommended so that individuals can receive actual treatment to address addiction issues which if not resolved may find them right back on Vicodin and other drugs. Because this type of addiction is so dangerous, the importance of treatment should not be understated. Just because someone detoxes themselves for a few days at home doesn't mean they have recovered from Vicodin addiction, and family, friends and the addict themselves should not be fooled. This has resulted in many discouraging setbacks for everyone involved, all of which could have been avoided if the individual would have sought effective treatment. Family and friends may even need to intervene, much like any other addiction, and hold a drug intervention to get the individual into rehab. Measures such as this can truly save lives and can be successful in very short order with the help of treatment professionals and a professional interventionist.

Vicodin Addiction Treatment

When in drug rehab for Vicodin addiction and dependence, clients will go through a very similar course of treatment as those in rehab for heroin addiction. Detox is likely to be very intense for the first few days, but can be overcome safely and there are very few serious risks involved. For individuals who want to be completely drug free and not on any type of opiate maintenance program such as methadone which has proven extremely unworkable, inpatient and residential drug rehab programs have proven extremely beneficial. There are many different types of drug free programs available, many of which provide high rates of success and have helped thousands of individuals overcome opiate addiction.

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