I got hooked on hydrocodone. Specifically Vicodin. I knew that it was possible but I started taking it with the best intentions. The doctor prescribed it to me after an accident. I took it as directed but continued use even after my pain started to subside. I didn’t realize I had a dependency until it was too late. Rehab center statistics on Vicodin have found that my story is not uncommon. In fact, there are around two million people that have been admitted into hydrocodone treatment centers. This may have to do with the reason it’s prescribed. It treats all types of moderate to severe pain which many of us suffer from.
Hydrocodone Pain Medication Trends
Based on the hydrocodone pain medication use and abuse, many people are in jeopardy of developing a problem. Even the medical professionals knew that medications with hydrocodone had a high risk factor for addiction. Despite this knowledge, they approved it as a prescription medication for pain relief. Hydrocodone abuse is so prevalent because it’s the drugs are so readily available. This of course increases the odds of people getting hooked. The DEA reported that there were more than 136 million prescriptions dispensed in 2013. Hydrocodone was the number one most prescribed medication and there has been a steady increase over the years. From 2006 to 2013, there was an increase of 20 million more hydrocodone prescriptions.
Why I Started Taking Vicodin
Vicodin, Norco, and Lorcet are the strongest pain killers that also come with high risk of addiction. I was given Vicodin for extreme pain from a car accident. My back was seriously injured and without the hydrocodone medication, I couldn’t manage my life. As I understand it, hydrocodone is only supposed to be administered to people who need pain relief around the clock. I was going through physiotherapy to help with my rehabilitation but I was nearly immobilized. I took hydrocodone extended-release capsules at first. Then, they switched me to the standard Vicodin medication. Regardless, the longer I took them, the more it changed how my brain responded to pain. If I didn’t keep up with the medication, I couldn’t function. The pain would come back or I became restless. I didn’t realize I was going through hydrocodone withdrawal.
How Easy is it To Become Addicted to Hydrocodone?
I can tell you that there is no question of hydrocodone’s risk of addiction. I was prescribed Vicodin but others I met through my detox and rehab program used Norco or Lortab. They are all equally powerful hydrocodone painkillers that are addictive. There are many hydrocodone addiction stories from people that come from all walks of life. Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal are strong with cravings and discomfort. All said and done, hydrocodone stems from opioids. Synthesized from codeine, it’s in the opiate narcotic analgesics class.
How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Hydrocodone or other Painkillers
There are many factors for how long it takes to become physically addicted to opiates. You can get addicted to hydrocodone after one week if you are particularly vulnerable to addiction. Everyone is going to react to hydrocodone differently but the risk is always there. Most will develop dependency after a few weeks if they continue using it. The responsible approach by your doctor should be to limit the amount of Vicodin, Norco, or Lorcet you’re given. It should be dispersed for a very short amount of time and only for good reason. Hydrocodone is a schedule III narcotic indicating that it needs to be taken with caution. Your tolerance level to any hydrocodone medication will be a consideration on how long it takes before you’re dependant on it. The earliest signs of hydrocodone dependency include having to take your medication to avoid withdrawal symptoms. If you’ve developed a hydrocodone tolerance and need to take more pills to achieve a therapeutic effect, this is also a sign of dependency. Tolerance doesn’t always mean you’re dependent but the two can happen simultaneously.
Hydrocodone Combination Products Risks
Hydrocodone combination medications are prescribed for moderate to severe pain relief. Some combinations are also useful for relief of coughing. Vicodin is a brand name hydrocodone based medication that also contains acetaminophen. If you develop a Vicodin addiction or dependency, you risk problems with your liver. Acetaminophen can cause liver toxicity if you increase your Vicodin dose rapidly. The hydrocodone addiction can cause the body to break down based on what drug is combined with it. It should be used in moderation but this doesn’t faze someone who becomes addicted to Vicodin. This is just another risk to your health when you develop a dependency, tolerance, or addiction to hydrocodone.
My Dangerous Addiction to Vicodin
Hydrocodone is a strong painkiller that is chemically similar to opium. The family of drugs includes heroin, oxycodone, and methadone. When you add acetaminophen to hydrocodone, you have Vicodin. It is one of the most abused prescription drugs abused in the US. The dosages of hydrocodone and acetaminophen vary. Vicodin may have 5 mg or up to 10 mg of hydrocodone. It can contain between 325 mg to 660 mg of acetaminophen. Acetaminophen isn’t addictive but it can cause liver damage when taken in high dosages on a consistent basis. The addictive nature of hydrocodone can cause one to abuse the drug which make acetaminophen harmful. This is what happened to me. I took high doses of Vicodin greater than what the doctor recommended because my tolerance increased from constant use. I suffered from liver failure and shortly after started rehab for Vicodin addiction.
Vicodin, Norco, and Lorcet Risks
If you take any of the medications that include hydrocodone, make sure nobody can access them. There is the potential of death or harm for those who abuse it. There is a high percentage of teens that go into their parent’s cabinets and take whatever prescriptions are available. The pain killers you have that include hydrocodone can slow or stop your breathing. This is especially the case when you first begin to take them or increase your dose. Continuing to see your doctor so they can monitor the pain relief treatment is necessary. If you’ve ever had issues with your lungs such as asthma or lung disease, your doctor is not going to give you hydrocodone pain killers. It puts you at risk of not being able to breathe properly.
Mixing Hydrocodone with Substances
Although Vicodin is a prescription drug, it can create a rock bottom effect. I would drink alcohol or mix other substances while on Vicodin. Every waking moment, I was medicating myself but I also maintained my old lifestyle. Wine in the evening with friends seems innocent enough but it was like playing Russian roulette. One night, my hydrocodone abuse caught up with me. I couldn’t breathe and I had to be rushed to the hospital. This is when my friends intervened, realizing I had a problem.
Side Effects of Hydrocodone
Hydrocodone side effects only cover this specific drug. The combination drugs will come with their own additional set of side effects on top of these. These side effects can be quite severe and it may require you to get medical help. Vicodin side effects are greater than if you just take hydrocodone on its own. On its own, hydrocodone is habit-forming. Taking more, or more frequently than the doctor prescribes is hydrocodone abuse and it can lead to risk of addiction.
Short-Term Hydrocodone Side Effects
- Stomach pain
- Back pain
- Chronic headaches
- Involuntary tension in the muscles
- Hurts when urinating
- Dry mouth
- A ringing in the ears
- Swelling in the feet, ankles, or legs
- Parts of your body may shake uncontrollably
Long-term Pain Killer Side Effects
Addiction to pain killers like Vicodin or Lorcet can cause long-term side effects that are physically damaging:
- Chronic problems with breathing
- The heart may slow down and become irregular
- Bowel obstruction
- Allergic skin reactions
- Problems with urinating
If you experience the following side effects, these are considered a sign of serious adverse reactions to hydrocodone.
- Sharp pain in the chest
- Seeing things or hearing sounds that aren’t there
- Feelings of agitation
- Heart rate increases rapidly
- Shivers and fever
- Severe muscle stiffness
- Body twitches
- Loss of coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- No appetite
- Menstruation become irregular
- Swelling in the face, lips, throat, tongue, or eyes
- Throat becomes hoarse
The Emotional Turmoil of Vicodin Abuse for Me
Aside from the medical side effects, I was deeply affected by my Vicodin addiction. Drinking along with abusing Vicodin caused me liver damage. While at first, I experienced a greater sense of peace thanks to the slightly euphoric feeling I got, it didn’t last. Once my brain became dependent on the drug, I continued to take it. The change of my brain chemistry coupled with the actions I took to ensure I always had Vicodin lead to anxiety and depression. I lost my job because I couldn’t function with the heavy dose of Vicodin I was taking daily. I had problems with my family and friends. They eventually would intervene and ultimately save my life. After, I stopped using Vicodin, I became depressed to the point of suicide. If it hadn’t been for my support group, I don’t know where I’d be today.
Hydrocodone Overdose Symptoms
One of the hydrocodone risks no matter what drug you’re taking is addiction. Hydrocodone addiction puts you more at risk of overdosing. If you try to stop taking the drug but can’t, you’re more likely to take the same amount as you did before attempting to abstain. The body may not be prepared for the dose. Here are some of the symptoms of hydrocodone overdose:
- Shallow, slow breaths
- You’ll feel sleepy
- Muscles become weak
- Skin may become cold and clammy
- Pupils may become very narrow or widened
- Heartrate will slow down
- Potential coma
- Potential death
Hydrocodone Detox Timeline
As most of the hydrocodone products like Norco or Lorcet are immediate release, they are inactive within 6 hours. The drugs’ half-lives are from six to twelve hours after you last took the medication. This slightly varies depending on what drug you were taking. The opiate withdrawal will usually be at its worst within three days (72 hours). Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can last from one week to one month. Cravings, along with emotional side effects can last longer which is why it’s recommended that talk therapy accompany detox. It’s important to note that the longer you take any of the hydrocodone medications, the more dependent the brain becomes on it. Abusing drugs like Vicodin by injecting or smoking it can create a faster dependency than if you just took pills as directed. These factors alter withdrawal timelines. Also, medical or mental problems that accompany a hydrocodone addiction can influence how long withdrawal lasts for each person.
What are the Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal?
Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal can be mild, moderate, or severe. Every person will go through their own personal battle. The hydrocodone detox timeline and how long you used it for will contribute to the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms. As with any opiate drug, hydrocodone binds to opiate receptors in the brain and the central nervous system. To cut yourself off from hydrocodone without professional addiction treatment help can distress the mind and body. Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms cause blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate and breathing to spike suddenly. Here are some of the specific withdrawal symptoms:
- Aching muscles
- Running nose and watery eyes
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive sweating
- Irregular heart beat
- Problems focusing
- Difficulty feeling happy
- High blood pressure
- Suicidal thoughts
- Cravings for the drug
- Hydrocodone withdrawal headache
Hydrocodone Treatment Facility/Program/Center/options
Withdrawing from hydrocodone is not something to take lightly. I tried to stop taking my medication on my own with little success. Seeking out professional help eases hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms by medical detox if necessary. Hydrocodone addiction treatment at home has a low success rate. Hydrocodone treatment centers will monitor how your body copes with the lack of medication. It’s the safest method to recover from hydrocodone addiction. Intensive outpatient programs are also a good alternative. Treatment programs can help you with the emotional, mental, and physical problems that come from an addiction. It’s the best way to guarantee your safety through the withdrawal period and help you recover fully.
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