Vicodin is a brand formulation of hydrocodone, which is a pain-alleviating semi-synthetic opioid. It is one of the oldest prescribed pain medications in the U.S., having been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in 1943. Since that time, The New York Times reports that the United States has grown to be the largest consumer of hydrocodone around the globe. Approximately 99 percent of total hydrocodone use occurs in the U.S.
Why Vicodin is Prescribed
How Vicodin Works
The medication works by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, providing an analgesic effect similar to that which is provided by morphine. In many cases, Vicodin can provide symptomatic relief for as long as 8 hours after taking it, although the effects can wear off in as little as 4 hours.
Vicodin has made it possible for millions of people to manage acute pain caused by injuries and certain health conditions. It is intended to be used on an as-needed basis and only according to the dosing instructions provided by the prescribing doctor. When taken as directed, Vicodin can make a person much more comfortable following:
- Major surgery
- Dental procedure
- Car accident injury
- Other short-term, but severe, pain
Vicodin abuse and addiction has become so prevalent today that the effects and costs extend far beyond the addict and their immediate family.
Effects of Addiction on Society
According to NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), the estimated financial cost to society of drug abuse exceeds $190 billion:
- $130 billion in lost productivity
- $20 billion in healthcare costs
- $40 billion in legal costs including efforts to stem the flow of drugs
Beyond the financial cost is the cost to individuals, families and society due to illness, etc.:
- Spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C
- Deaths due to overdose or other complications from drug use
- Effects on unborn children of pregnant drug users
- Impact on the family, crime and homelessness
The best option for anyone struggling with Vicodin addiction is to seek treatment in an inpatient long-term rehabilitation program. In this type of environment, the addict is protected from the negative influences of the outside world and can focus on learning the skills needed for maintaining a drug-free lifestyle.