Hydrocodone – found in Vicodin, Lortab and other prescription drugs – is an opiate commonly prescribed by doctors for the treatment of chronic or acute pain.
The up side: hydrocodone works well and is about six times stronger than codeine. The down side: hydrocodone addiction is a common result of regular hydrocodone use for an extended period.
Hydrocodone addiction is on the rise: more than 130 million prescriptions were written for the medication in 2006 alone.
Too often, casual prescriptions turn into a serious hydrocodone addiction that requires hydrocodone addiction treatment. If you would like help finding a hydrocodone rehab near you, Rehab International can help. Contact us at the number above and get the hydrocodone addiction 101 you need to heal after addiction.
Hydrocodone is used to treat pain and is available by prescription only. Classified as an opiate, hydrocodone binds to the opiate receptors in your brain to block your experience of pain and trigger the pleasure response.
- Hydrocodone is the main medication that appears in pain pills like Vicodin, however, in each of these pills, hydrocodone is used in varying strengths and combined with aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Vicodin is the most commonly known brand name for hydrocodone, but there are others including Lorcet and Vicoprofen, among others.
- The additional ingredients in Vicodin can be responsible for health complications when the medication is abused. Higher doses of acetaminophen can cause problems with the liver and kidneys.
- Vicodin is typically prescribed to be taken every four to six hours. The specific strength is dependent upon the patient, but it can range from 5 mg to 500 mg of hydrocodone.
- Dependency can occur with prescribed use, but the severe health risks only surface when individuals take more than prescribed for a prolonged period or enhance the effect of the drug with other drugs and alcohol.
With typical hydrocodone abuse, individuals use more than the dosage prescribed by their doctor. This means that they run out of pills before they can properly obtain a refill. In order to prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone, addicts typically use other methods to obtain more drugs, methods which can include the following:
- “Doctor shopping” or seeking out doctors who will duplicate prescriptions or give out higher doses of opiate painkillers is becoming a common trend. As a result, doctor’s offices are increasingly less likely to issue prescriptions for painkillers to individuals who are not regular patients.
- Hydrocodone addicts who doctor shop go to more than one doctor for their prescriptions. They may use an excuse to explain why they have run out of their prescription, or why they are unable to visit their own doctor for a prescription renewal. `
- There is a black market for Vicodin in almost every American city. Drug dealers purchase it from people with legitimate prescriptions and sell the pills at a substantial mark-up to desperate hydrocodone addicts.
- Hydrocodone addicts will steal, buy or borrow pain pills from other people with legitimate prescriptions, or in some cases, resort to criminal activity to cover the cost of illegal pills.
- Online pharmacies are another source of non-medical hydrocodone prescriptions. Illicit sites may not require a prescription, but may fill these prescriptions using out-of-date pills or mismarked medications.
Risks of Abuse
There are substantial risks associated with long-term use of hydrocodone, especially when a larger dosage than prescribed is taken. Many of the risks are associated with the high levels of acetaminophen that are contained in the pills. During a one year period, more than 50,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. were due to hydrocodone abuse.
The most common health problems associated with hydrocodone addiction include:
- Liver damage due to high levels of acetaminophen
- Hearing loss
- Short-term effects like nausea, vomiting, dizziness and constipation
In addition to the health issues associated with hydrocodone use, people can make bad choices while under the influence of the drug. Unprotected sex, driving while impaired and sharing needles when using other drugs are just a few examples of how hydrocodone addiction can damage your life.
Most addicts find it hard to kick their hydrocodone addiction due to the withdrawal symptoms. These can include severe muscle aches, nausea, insomnia and diarrhea. As uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms surface, those dependent upon hydrocodone may return to its use to avoid feeling ill. Drug rehab centers for prescription drug abuse begin with detox under medical supervision. Medication may also be dispensed to control the withdrawal symptoms so recovering addicts are more comfortable while they focus on leaving their addiction behind them. Emotional triggers that lead to initial drug abuse can be treated with support and counseling.
If you or someone you love is living with hydrocodone addiction, let Rehab International help you find a hydrocodone rehab near you.