Man experiencing long-term effects of Vicodin abuse

Our Vicodin addiction treatment program in San Antonio, TX, treats patients suffering from the long-term effects of Vicodin abuse. As you probably know, Vicodin is an opioid painkiller. Opioids produce morphine-like effects and are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia. Vicodin combines a narcotic pain reliever (hydrocodone) with acetaminophen, a non-opioid pain reliever available over the counter.

While there is a legitimate medical use for Vicodin, it is highly addictive. In fact, one can inadvertently become dependent–taking the medication as prescribed could lead to taking a little bit extra in anticipation of pain or taking a full dose when the pain could be handled with over-the-counter medication. Eventually, an individual may find themselves using Vicodin even when they don’t need it, and at that point, they are dependent on the drug.

Vicodin Abuse Is Rampant

the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that approximately 2.1 million people in the United States abused prescription opioids in 2012 alone. This is more than the number of people who abused cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined.

Vicodin is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs. In fact, Vicodin addiction is responsible for more emergency room visits than any other drug, legal or illegal. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there were nearly 500,000 emergency room visits related to Vicodin abuse in 2011.

Physicians prescribe Vicodin to treat moderate or severe pain, which will go away during the normal healing process after injury or surgery. Although Vicodin can help pain sufferers, it can also lead to addiction. Suddenly stopping, especially after prolonged use or higher doses, can cause unpleasant opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Vicodin Short-Term Effects

According to the web article “Side Effects of Hydrocodone Misuse & Addiction” on Drugabuse.com, the presence of the hydrocodone opioid leads to “effects that are similar to other opiates like morphine and heroin.” Its short-term effects occur when the substance enters the body and attaches itself to the body’s opioid receptors in the brain, the spinal cord, the gastrointestinal tract, and other organ systems.

The immediate effects are:

  • Pain relief
  • Suppression of the cough reflex
  • A feeling of euphoric calm and relaxation

Those effects are present in all users—patients who have prescriptions and those abusing Vicodin. Abusers tend to view prescription drugs as a safer alternative to buying heroin on the street. That perception is dangerous. Vicodin overdose can result in loss of consciousness, respiratory failure, and death.

Vicodin Addiction Problems

Using Vicodin over time builds up a tolerance. When used as a pain reliever, Vicodin users will need higher or more frequent doses to achieve the same pain relief. This tolerance can lead to increased use and addiction.

People addicted to Vicodin have resorted to extreme measures to obtain the drug, including:

  • Falsifying or modifying doctors’ prescriptions
  • Making fraudulent calls to their pharmacy
  • Seeking prescriptions from multiple physicians–a practice called “doctor shopping.”

There is also an active black market for illegal prescription drugs ranging from street dealers to physicians who have been arrested for trafficking in opioids.

Withdrawal Symptoms Associated with Sudden Abstinence

Vicodin withdrawal symptoms mirror those associated with heroin withdrawal. They include general body pain with discomfort, restlessness, and trouble sleeping. Gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and accompanying poor appetite. These withdrawal symptoms can lead to more serious complications such as anxiety, panic attacks, and cardiovascular problems.

The severity of Vicodin withdrawal symptoms depends on how long the person has been taking the drug, how much they have been taking, and if they have any underlying mental or physical health conditions. detoxification at a professional treatment center is always the safest option to ensure that severe withdrawal symptoms are minimized and managed correctly.

An opioid detox center in San Antonio, TX, can help you mitigate these harsh effects with medically assisted detox and trained medical staff.

Long-Term Effects of Vicodin Abuse

Addiction aside, there are also long-term effects of Vicodin use. The drug can produce a number of troubling side effects—nausea, headache, confusion, etc.—which quickly dissipate after the drug leaves the system. However, the long-term effects of Vicodin can impair the user’s overall health in several ways:

  • The high level of acetaminophen, the non-opioid in Vicodin, damages the liver. Over time, extended Vicodin use can lead to irreversible scarring, liver dysfunction, and eventual liver failure.
  • Vicodin also slows the respiratory reflex. This can cause respiratory infections and other serious lung problems.
  • Vicodin affects gastrointestinal function. The results can be chronic constipation, leading to other serious health conditions, including permanent damage to the intestinal tract.
  • Vicodin users experience difficulty urinating, which can lead to infections in the urinary tract. Left untreated, urinary infections can progress to the kidneys. Kidney damage can be life-threatening.
  • Other side effects include hearing loss, cardiovascular damage, reproductive problems, and risks associated with pregnancy.

San Antonio Recovery Center’s Drug Rehab Program

Our addiction treatment programs at San Antonio Recovery Center focus on your recovery, and our compassionate professionals tailor them to your specific needs.

Call us at 866.957.7885 so that you can begin your journey to recovery. Don’t let addiction control your life. Take charge now.

Now is the time to focus on your recovery.


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