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vicodin addiction statisticsAmong prescription drugs that segue to addiction for users, Vicodin has perhaps become the most notorious for abuse.

With the ability to be fairly easily obtained by prescriptions for maladies ranging from dental discomfort to post-surgical pain, the opiate analgesic has enjoyed widespread use in recent decades. Vicodin also remains one of the most affordable opiates for those with insurance coverage, particularly in its generic form, hydrocodone. Unfortunately, with rapidly building tolerance, alterations Vicodin induces in brain chemistry, and withdrawal symptoms and cravings that accompany cessation. Vicodin keeps many individuals addicted until professional intervention and drug treatment have been sought.

Significance of  Statistics

Vicodin addiction – like many forms of prescription drug dependency – existed underneath the radar for many years.

In the last decade and a half, high profile cases of Vicodin addiction and the drug’s easy access through poorly regulated online sales served to bring the opiate’s addictive properties into the spotlight. In the time since, Vicodin addiction has gained widespread acknowledgement among addiction experts, drug treatment facilities and the general public, leading to tightened controls around the dispensation of the drug. Additionally, attention has been brought to the practices of medical theft, “doctor shopping” (the invention of maladies, exaggeration of pain or procurement of multiple prescriptions) and falsified prescriptions in order to facilitate opiate addiction.

Facts About Addiction

Vicodin abuse and addiction has become a reality across the nation. According to the United States Department of Health and Family Services, Vicodin addiction has taken an economic and personal toll on American citizens, in both direct and ancillary ways.  Here are just a few of the disconcerting facts and statistics surrounding Vicodin abuse and addiction in America today.

The Prevalence

While many forms of drug addiction have lowered nationwide in recent years, prescription opiate abuse has remained on the rise – particularly in the case of hydrocodone.  Vicodin abuse occurs at increasingly young ages for many addicted individuals, leading to high levels of ongoing non-medical use and illicit Vicodin procurement.

  • Estimates suggest that nearly two million individuals across the United States suffer from Vicodin addictions.
  • According to a 2008 survey of young adults by the University of Michigan, nearly one in 10 teenagers had used the prescription painkiller by their senior year in high school.
  • Vicodin abuse in the United States alone has nearly quadrupled within the last 10 years.
  • Almost 23,000 individuals across the United States engaged in the recreational use of Vicodin, according to the 2008 National  Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

The Consequences

Despite misconceptions regarding the safety of prescription analgesics such as Vicodin, hydrocodone abuse can lead to disastrous – and even fatal – consequences, particularly when taken with higher dosages or frequency than prescribed or combined with secondary drugs such as alcohol.

  • In the 17 years between 1994 to 2001, patients visiting emergency departments for opiate analgesic abuse, addiction and overdose – including Vicodin related maladies – increased by more than 115 percent across the nation.
  • In 18 cities and metropolitan regions across the country, Vicodin remained in the top 10 most commonly cited illicit substances involved in drug-related fatalities, according to the 2002 Drug Abuse Warning Network’s Mortality Data Report.
  • Across the United States, more than 42,000 individuals in 2004 alone ended up in emergency rooms across the country due to hydrocodone-related medical issues.
  • In drug cases requiring analysis to the nation’s forensic labs, hydrocodone accounted for nearly 38,000 items of evidence, making it the most frequently submitted opioid for testing, according to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System.
  • Accidental overdoses involving prescription opiates (such as Vicodin and OxyContin) rose by nearly 115 percent in just the four years between 2001 and 2005.
  • The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reports that more than 24,000 of its cases in 2007 alone involved hydrocodone, including more than 11,000 incidents of callers becoming exposed to the drug and 23 hydrocodone-related fatalities that resulted.


vicodin addictionDespite increasing attention on Vicodin’s potential for abuse and addiction, many doctors across the nation continue to prescribe the drug with high frequency – largely due to efforts to assuage patient-reported chronic pain. In fact, prescriptions for Vicodin and related hydrocodone derivatives have climbed in recent years, according to government and public health statistics.

  • Pain relievers that involved hydrocodone – Vicodin’s active ingredient – were prescribed an astounding 136 million times in 2008 alone.
  • Vicodin prescriptions rose by nearly 55 percent between 2000 and 2008 across the United States.
  • Vicodin remains just one of more than 100 versions of prescription opiate analgesics on the market containing hydrocodone.
  • Among prescription drugs containing hydrocodone, Lortab and Vicodin remain the two most frequently written prescriptions by physicians in the nation.

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