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One of the biggest problems in the substance abuse community is the increasing trend for people to become addicted to painkillers such as Vicodin.

There are 2 main reasons that people can fall victim to Vicodin addiction:1) People who suffer an illness or an injury and their doctor prescribes them the medicine.
They start taking the pills as directed and find that they cannot stop or that they feel really good when they take them. They might take more than indicated at times and start abusing them. They might seek out more when their prescription is gone and at this point they are in danger of developing dependence. Really this can potentially happen to nearly anyone, as we will all have the occasional illness or injury, it just depends on how susceptible we are to chemical dependency. Not everyone is a potential addict but those who are may develop a problem with painkillers after receiving an injury.
2) Some will seek out Vicodin to purposefully abuse it for recreation.
There are those out there who have heard that medications such as Vicodin can give them a pleasurable feeling, and so they may seek it out just to experiment. This is of course becoming more and more common among younger people these days. Out of all those who choose to abuse Vicodin, a certain percentage will become fully addicted to it.

Signs and Symptoms

It can be difficult to tell when someone is addicted because there are so many different Vicodin addiction effects. At times they might be fatigued or nod out from heavy use of the drug, but this will be rare and only occur in extreme cases. More likely you will be able to tell they are abusing Vicodin based on their behavior.

These behaviors or Vicodin addiction symptoms would include:1) An obsession about their medication and their refills.

2) Buying more medication illegally or off the street.

3) Hiding or stashing pills.

4) Taking the pills in a way other than orally. For example, crushing them up and snorting them.

5) Obsession with doctors and possibly using multiple doctors to get more medication.

6) Discomfort or flu-like symptoms when they run out of Vicodin. This indicates withdrawal, which indicates dependence.


As mentioned, Vicodin addiction can lead to dependence when you stop taking the medication suddenly.

Classical symptoms of this will include sweats and chills, anxiety, stomach problems such as cramping and nausea, tremors, and other symptoms that resemble the flu. This will generally last for 3 to 5 days if the person has stopped cold turkey, but the effects may linger on for a bit longer in some cases.

Because Vicodin addiction withdrawal is so uncomfortable, many people will relapse quickly if they try to detox at home. Therefore, it is recommended that they seek out treatment of some sort.


The most popular option for Vicodin treatment will be to go to a drug rehab because its not safe to do on your own with all of the different Vicodin addiction risks that could be involved. This would typically include a short stay in detox, followed by a few weeks in a residential treatment center. Most detox units will treat the withdrawal symptoms from Vicodin with a medication called Suboxone. This medicine is approved to treat opiate withdrawal and generally helps quite a bit at relieving the withdrawal symptoms. It is a synthetic opiate that can help taper your body off of the Vicodin so that you do not get violently ill.

After detox, most treatment centers will recommend residential rehab treatment for anyone who is addicted to Vicodin.

Residential rehab will generally include group therapy, meetings, lectures, and various group activities. The majority of treatment centers are 12 step based, so they would probably expose you to Narcotics Anonymous meetings as well. These could become part of the follow up care to be used when the person leaves treatment eventually.

There are other methods of drug rehab treatment available besides the traditional route of residential rehab. One example of this would be to talk directly with your doctor and see about using Suboxone on your own to treat your opiate dependence. This can be an option for some people who might also be suffering from chronic pain issues as well. One of the biggest problems with treating opiate dependence in a traditional manner is how to handle the pain that results when people are fully detoxed. If they have injuries or chronic pain issues, then in some cases an alternative treatment may be needed.

Even with an alternative treatment such as Suboxone maintenance, the recovering addict will need some sort of program or additional therapy in order to manage their life without reverting to Vicodin. Overcoming an addiction requires a full effort that addresses every area of a person’s life.

Successfully treating Vicodin addiction will therefore require a comprehensive approach that includes more than just a change in medication.


Rehab International is a service provided by Foundations Recovery Network. As part of the Foundations Recovery Network, our goal is to provide science-based treatments to individuals suffering from issues of addiction and mental illness.

When you call you will be connected to a member of the Foundations Recovery Network who will assist in providing you with any questions you may have regarding the treatment process.

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