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Signs of Vicodin Abuse and Addiction

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

Normal Vicodin Use and Effectivness

Vicodin is a pain medication often prescribed following a serious injury and contains Acetaminophen and Hydrocodone, which is the synthetic form of codeine. Abuse and addiction of Vicodin occurs frequently because the speed at which a person can become addicted is only a few weeks, which is the amount of time for which Vicodin is sometimes prescribed. The signs and symptom of Vicodin abuse can be seen either with the appearance of the person, or their actions.

Vicodin becomes addicting mainly because hydrocodone blocks the release of endorphins, which normally cause feelings of happiness and contentment. Vicodin then replaces that function, but causes those feelings of euphoria continuously. Because of this, when Vicodin is discontinued, the person feels down and seeks more of the narcotic.

Behaviorial Signs of Vicodin Addiction

The most obvious signs of Vicodin abuse or addiction are the ways the person behaves. Usually addiction begins with the person taking more pills than they are prescribed or taking Vicodin more frequently then prescribed. Either of these actions will result in the person running out of pills before the prescription recommends. If someone is addicted to hydrocodone, it is important they receive help as early as possible as the addiction will escalate rapidly and cause more dangerous behavior.

This is the point where the addiction becomes a major issue because it produces criminal behavior. The abuser will usually then go to their original doctor and request more Vicodin, and after rejection will try a different doctor, or to obtain the Vicodin without a prescription, both of which are illegal.

Physical Effects of Normal Use of Vicodin

Before discussing the physical signs and symptoms of Vicodin abuse or addiction, it is important to understand the signs of normal use of this narcotic. Under normal use, the person will appear tired, yet happy and content. They will also be unable to focus their concentration normally or may have short periods of time where they have anxiety. A person taking Vicodin will also have constricted pupils and possibly slurred speech.

Signs of Vicodin Abuse

Addiction and taking too much Vicodin will cause those signs and symptoms to become stronger and more frequent. Along with that, the individual will often suffer insomnia and night sweats. But one of the most drastic and problematic symptom is an increased intolerance for pain. The person will find even low levels of pain to be excruciating, which will further cause them to seek out Vicodin to reduce the pain. As the duration of the addiction increases, the susceptibility to pain will worsen until the person needs to be constantly taking Vicodin in order not to appear to be suffering. Long term abuse of Vicodin will also result in many other symptoms, including stomach cramps, nausea, constipation, and problems urinating.

Importance of Pain as a Symptom of Vicodin Addiction

The most telling symptom though is pain, and it is the most dangerous because it acts as a positive reinforcement to the addiction. The more Vicodin the person takes, the less they can tolerate pain when they aren´t taking it, which causes them to need it more. Psychologically, the same is true of the euphoria and Vicodin´s ability to block endorphins. After long term abuse, the person loses the ability to feel happiness except when they are taking the Vicodin.

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