Is My Family Member Addicted to Vicodin?

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Is My Family Member Addicted to Vicodin?

Is your family member addicted to Vicodin? Vicodin is one of the oldest pain relieving medications.  The Food and Drug Administration approved Vicodin in 1943. Vicodin is an opiate painkiller (also known as a narcotic) combined with hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Vicodin works on the central nervous system, binding to opioid receptions to suppress pain, while at the same time stimulating the neurotransmitters responsible for mood and feelings.

Addicted to Vicodin or Dependent?

To determine if you or someone you love is addicted to Vicodin, you should first understand the difference between addiction and dependence.

Addiction is a psychological issue, the chasing of a high despite consequences.

According to Addiction and Dependence DSM-V -Charles P. O’Brien, M.D.:

Addiction can occur without physical dependence.  Drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine have minimal physical withdrawal symptoms. Non-substance addictions such as gambling, sex, or the Internet also have no physical dependence. What is common to all these addictions is the cravings that prompt the compulsive behaviors.

Dependency refers to a biological need to take the substance.  This reaction happens because of chemical changes in the body.  For instance, the drug hijacks the body’s natural systems.   More of the substance is required just to feel “normal.” Physical dependence can occur without addiction.  This dependence is the common experience of most chronic pain patients who can take their opioid medication as prescribed for pain but don’t develop the uncontrollable compulsion and loss of control. A desire to avoid withdrawal is not addiction.

The Vicodin Epidemic

Anyone who takes Vicodin for any reason is at risk for dependence, even if they are not predisposed to substance abuse and addiction. Countless individuals start taking Vicodin to relieve moderate to severe pain and end up dependent.  Dependency can happen even when following the doctor’s prescription correctly.

Statistics provided by the CDC reveal that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers. Also, 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

Recognizing the Signs

There are five major symptoms of Vicodin addiction:

  1. Nodding out –  The person may appear to be in a daze, even during a conversation. If confronted on this, they may become irritable and defensive. This behavior includes reduced attention span, fatigue, irritability, snappiness, anxiety, and flu-like symptoms.
  2. Obsession with Vicodin – A person compulsively takes the drug, even when there is not a medical reason to do so, and may take it in various forms. Vicodin can be crushed and snorted, or added to water and administered intravenously.
  3. Physical side effects – Could include paranoia, severe mood swings, passing out, nausea, and vomiting.  Long-term effects of Vicodin abuse include liver and urinary system complications, liver damage, liver failure, and jaundice.
  4. Procuring more Vicodin – The body builds up a tolerance and more of the drug is needed to create the same effects.  The person may become obsessed with the need to obtain more. This effect could show up in “doctor shopping,” buying from overseas online pharmacies, prescription fraud, and pill-mill type medical practices.
  5. Personal problems – Vicodin addicts have difficulties functioning in daily life.  Problems at work, problems in personal relationships, and the inability to cope in general.  Combined with health issues, all point to addiction/dependency, particularly when the person recognizes that these are consequences of drug use but continue abusing anyway.
If you need more information to help you determine if you or a loved one is addicted to Vicodin, our inpatient treatment options help individuals get their life back on track and develop coping skills for long-term recovery. Please call our toll-free number today at

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