Vicodin Addiction and Treatment
In the U.S. there are over 200 products containing hydrocodone, typically combined with acetaminophen (Vicodin, Lortab). However, it is also combined with aspirin (Lortab ASA), ibuprofen (Vicoprofen), and antihistamines (Hycomine). Both tablet and liquid forms of hydrocodone are available (Tussionex). Other brand names include Anexsia, CoGesic, Hydrocet, Hy-Phen, Lorcet, Maxidone, Norco, Panacet, and Zydone. Street names for Vicodin include vikes and hydros.
Hydrocodone is in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. Preparations containing hydrocodone in combination with other non-narcotic medicinal ingredients are in Schedule III.
Hydrocodone dates back to the 1920's when Knoll, a German pharmaceutical company, believed hydrogenizing codeine could make it less toxic, making it easier on the stomach. As its name implies, hydrocodone is the codeine molecule with a hydrogen atom attached. During this time in the U.S., a disturbing percentage of middle class Americans were hooked on opium derivatives. The government, anxious for a non-addictive painkiller, gave extensive funding to research new compounds like hydrocodone.
Vicodin is a phenathrene-derivate opiate agonist, effective both as an antitussive (anti-cough) agent, and as an opiate, an effective analgesic for mild to moderate pain. Five mg of hydrocodone is equivalent to 30 mg of codeine when administered orally. 15 mg (1/4 gr) of hydrocodone is considered equivalent to 10 mg (1/6 gr) of morphine. Hydrocodone is considered to be like morphine in all respects.
Source: DEA: Drug Enforcement Administration
The combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone is available in tablet or capsule form, as well as liquid, to be taken by mouth. Generally, it is taken every 4-6 hours as needed (PRN). The usual dose of Vicodin is 1 or 2 tablets, up to a maximum of 8 tablets per day. The usual dose of Vicodin HP® is 1 tablet, up to a maximum of 6 tablets per day. For Vicodin ES®, the usual dose is 1 tablet, up to a maximum of 5 tablets per day. Vicodin can be habit forming or addictive, and it is imperative that patients take the medication precisely as prescribed by their physician.
Do not increase the amount or frequency without your doctor's approval. Do not take this drug for any reason other than the one prescribed.
FDA: Food and Drug Administration
Vicodin is a semisynthetic narcotic analgesic and antitussive with multiple actions qualitatively similar to those of codeine. Most of these involve the central nervous system and smooth muscle. The precise mechanism of action of hydrocodone and other opiates is not known, although it is believed to relate to the existence of opiate receptors in the central nervous system. In addition to analgesia, narcotics may produce euphoria; drowsiness; lethargy; relaxation; difficulty in concentrating; decreased physical activity in some users and increased physical activity in others; mild anxiety or fear, and pupillary constriction.
Typical side effects of Vicodin therapy include constipation, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, stomach pain, and difficulty urinating.
Less common but potentially hazardous effects include respiratory depression and mood changes. If you experience either, call your doctor immediately. Elderly patients are particularly susceptible to respiratory depression, particularly when Vicodin is used in conjunction with other CNS depressant medications.
Use Vicodin with caution if:
If Vicodin is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either may be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Vicodin with the following:
Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. A severe overdose of Vicodin can be fatal. If you suspect an overdose, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Symptoms of a Vicodin overdose include: Blood disorders, bluish tinge to skin, cold and clammy skin, extreme sleepiness progressing to a state of unresponsiveness or coma, general feeling of bodily discomfort, heart problems, heavy perspiration, kidney problems, limp muscles, liver failure, low blood pressure, nausea, slow heartbeat, troubled or slowed breathing, and vomiting.
Psychic dependence, physical dependence, and tolerance may develop upon repeated administration of vicodin. Psychic dependence is unlikely when vicodin is used for a short period of time.
Vicodin addiction can develop when continued use of the drug is needed to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This problem only becomes relevant after several (2 weeks to 2 months) of continued narcotic use.
Tolerance is when ever increasing doses are required to produce the same degree of analgesia. Tolerance is initially manifested by a decreased duration of analgesic effect, followed by decreases in the intensity of analgesia. The rate of tolerance varies among patients.
Vicodin has an analgesic potency similar to or greater than that of oral morphine. Generally, this drug is abused by oral rather than intravenous administration.
When taken as directed, Vicodin can produce physical dependence in a few weeks time.
According to the FDA, addiction is characterized by compulsive use, use for non-medical purposes, and continued use despite harm or risk of harm.
Patients no longer requiring Vicodin, should set a gradual taper schedule to avoid acute withdrawal.
If a regular Vicodin user abruptly stops taking Vicodin, withdrawal should begin within six to twelve hours. The intensity of withdrawal depends on the degree of the addiction, and symptoms are usually not life-threatening. Typically, Vicodin withdrawal symptoms may intensify for twenty-four to seventy-two hours and then gradually decline over a period of seven to fourteen days.
The symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal include but are not limited to:
restlessness, muscle pain, bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, goose bumps, involuntary leg movements, watery eyes, runny nose loss of appetite, irritability, panic, nausea, chills, and sweating.
Any person using Vicodin for more than several weeks should consult their medical professional before stopping the drug. Generally speaking, a gradual weaning off of the drug is optimal and less traumatic to the user's physical and emotional health. With a moderate to severe addiction, an in patient detox in a hospital or medically supervised setting is highly recommended for its multi-disciplinary approach. The "information age" has produced numerous on line support forums, popular with many recovering addicts, useful to some addicts as their sole means of support and for others, as adjunct therapy. Drug addiction is treatable, with help out there for everyone.