Vicodin is one of the most commonly prescribed opioid drugs in the world, and according to MedPage Today, “the combination drug hydrocodone combined with acetaminophen (Vicodin) is one of the easiest-to-prescribe opioids around.” The article then goes on to explain how Vicodin is the most widely filled prescription in the United States.
Even with the new restrictions that have been implemented to limit the dispensing of the drug, it is still commonly used in the medical community to treat pain after an injury or surgery.
One of the main reasons Vicodin is prescribed so much is that doctors have less regulation when it comes to prescribing the opioid drug. While it still falls under the narcotic classification, it isn’t as powerful as a drug like Percocet, which is classified as a Schedule II drug. Unfortunately, despite it not being as strong, it is still an abusable and highly addictive drug.
Prescription opioids such as Vicodin are prescribed by doctors to treat moderate-to-severe pain, but they can also have serious risks and side effects. Vicodin is one of these drugs that has contributed to the ongoing epidemic that the United States is facing. Among developed nations, the U.S. is feeling the effects of overprescribing.
The most recent figures show that about 130 people are dying each day as a result of these substances. When we believe we have made some progress in the fight against drugs, new figures are released that show just how much more it continues to unravel. Unfortunately, a primary reason why people find it so hard to get off opioids is because of the withdrawal symptoms. Vicodin withdrawal can be downright uncomfortable, and when someone can’t get their fix, they often graduate to harder drugs like heroin or the deadly drug fentanyl.
The epidemic has not only affected human life, but it is impacting the federal government exponentially in terms of cost. According to an article released by Vox, the opioid epidemic cost the federal government $26 billion in lost tax revenue between 2000 and 2016, and state governments $11.8 billion.
While we would like to steer clear of putting a monetary figure on a humanitarian crisis, it’s still necessary to measure all areas of how this is affecting our society. We may be going through one of the darkest times in human history, and we will look back and find the mistakes we made that do not replicate the current state of affairs.
In the meantime, we must focus on those who are sick with addiction and treat them accordingly. Those going through Vicodin withdrawal need to be informed about the risks associated with drug use.
One concern about Vicodin use is the pain reliever, acetaminophen, that is used in conjunction with the active ingredient hydrocodone. Abusing the drug places the user at risk of severe liver damage or organ failure from acetaminophen poisoning. Many issues can arise from hydrocodone alone, but adding acetaminophen increases the chances of harming your organs.
As we’ve discussed, Vicodin is an opioid drug, which falls under the umbrella of substances consisting of heroin and morphine. The drugs are all considered to be central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Various factors will affect the timeline of withdrawal and the symptoms that will be experienced. Vicodin withdrawal symptoms often come in two distinct phases – the initial period of withdrawal will imitate the common cold, but the following stage will closely resemble flu-like symptoms.
Physical symptoms are the most prominent of opioid withdrawal, but they can also include emotional and psychological symptoms. Anxiety, as well as agitation, can follow the initial phase along with deep depression in the second stage. There are confirmed reports of individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts as they battle depression of Vicodin withdrawal; immediate medical attention is required if this happens to you or a loved one.
The early stages of Vicodin withdrawal include these symptoms:
The following stage where symptoms will begin to peak include:
As with most drugs, intense cravings are a standard part of the withdrawal process. When it occurs alongside other withdrawal symptoms, it increases the challenge to achieve abstinence without help.
Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are not necessarily deadly when compared to benzodiazepines or alcohol, but they are uncomfortable enough to make it challenging to reach your goal of sobriety. Vicodin withdrawal is tough to get through on your own, and it is common for those in this process to relapse without the assistance of medical professionals. Medical detoxification is the safest choice when overcoming an addiction to Vicodin.
Your experience will vary based on the level of chemical dependency. The symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal will range from mild to severe based on several factors. These include how long the drug was abused, how much was consumed, and the dosage you’ve become tolerant to. The size of the last dose will also play a vital role.
The most common symptoms users report are severe cravings that can lead to drug-seeking behavior, which is when someone seeks an alternative opioid such as oxycodone or heroin. At this point, the user can be sick enough to make choices they may not make in their right state of mind. This can be dangerous because as the tolerance decreases and stronger opioids are consumed, an overdose can occur.
Symptoms can appear in as little as six hours after your last dose, which means that you will want to consume more immediately after cessation. Cold-like symptoms in the beginning stages will slowly turn into flu-like symptoms around 72 hours after your last dose.
The symptoms at this point will be at their worst, and you may feel like you have the worst flu you’ve ever had. The severity of these symptoms will eventually begin to subside after a week, but depression fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety can persist for a month or longer.
If the symptoms continue after a month of sobriety, you must speak with an addiction specialist. It can indicate you are struggling with something known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). You must discuss this with someone who can adequately treat the symptoms. PAWS is common in those who abused opioids long-term, and the length it occurs can vary from one person to another.
While going through Vicodin withdrawal is not necessarily dangerous as we’ve displayed above, it is often uncomfortable enough to force the user back into a life of drug-seeking behaviors. It is common for those who quit on their own to give up, go back to their usual dose, and overdose because their tolerance has dropped dramatically. It is a serious cause for concern, and it highlights the need to go to medical detoxification.”
If you have taken the road to get sober, you obviously care about what happens to you, and if you want to preserve your life you must go to detox. The experience will hold you accountable for the steps you’ve chosen to transition into a sober lifestyle.
The specialists at the facility will provide medications that alleviate the worst symptoms of withdrawal. Attempting this process on your own can cause psychological symptoms you may not have planned for, and a caring professional staff member can keep you on track.
The sole intention of detox is to clear your body of any intoxicants that may remain, but it is not enough to maintain sobriety. It is imperative to continue ongoing care and stay in treatment long enough for the chance at lasting recovery. A minimum of three months (90 days) is necessary to give yourself the best chance at long-term sobriety, but the specialists will determine what the best outcome for you is. The longer you stay in treatment, the better chance you have at long-term sobriety.
It could mean you enter into residential treatment, but this will depend on the severity of your addiction.
You could be placed in an outpatient treatment facility where you will have the ability to go home once therapy is complete. The addiction specialists in detox will determine your course of action.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). (n.d.). from https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/News_and_Resources/PAWS
Thoughts of Suicide May Persist Among Nonmedical Prescription Opiate Users. (2013, March 04). from https://archives.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2013/03/thoughts-suicide-may-persist-among-nonmedical-prescription-opiate-users
Lopez. (2019, April 16). A new study finds the opioid epidemic has led to tens of billions in lost tax revenue. from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/4/16/18410464/opioid-epidemic-lost-tax-revenue-overdose-death
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
Kristina Fiore Kristina Fiore. (2011, April 24). Generic Vicodin Easiest Opioid to Prescribe. from https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/publichealth/26098