Often times, when a doctor prescribes Vicodin, they believe the benefits outweigh the risk to their patient. They were likely right at the time. No doctor can tell beforehand if you will become addicted or struggle with addiction. You could not tell either, but that doesn’t mean you have to struggle. You’ve made it this far, so don’t give up.
Signs of addiction can vary and so do the symptoms. Addiction itself can be measured at different levels from mild to severe. So how will you know you have a problem? When everything in your life revolves around Vicodin—both having and taking it.
Ask yourself these questions. Be honest with yourself here; there are no wrong answers.
• What would you do if you no longer had access to your prescription?
• Would thoughts of getting more consume you?
• Would you seek out a similar drug?
• Would you lash out at loved ones because you cannot have more?
• Would you go as far to visit an emergency room or your doctor in an attempt to get more?
• Would you risk breaking the law?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might have developed a dependency to your Vicodin. Don’t be hard on yourself, and don’t be surprised. Vicodin works with your brain to block pain receptors and create a euphoric state of mind. Those benefits helped carry you through your original reason for your prescription, but it came at the price of a possible chemical dependency.
No one asks for addiction to consume their lives. Nobody knows the magic number where dependency begins either. It could have been one pill or twenty, but somewhere along the course of your prescription, the chemical need for Vicodin overtook the need for pain relief.
Signs of Vicodin Addiction
What I described above is common among addicts. You arrive at a place in your life where you’ve lost complete control to a drug. However, Vicodin abuse does have symptoms and signs of its own. Having one or two of these is cause for alarm, and any more than two could mean you have a moderate to severe addiction.
• Nausea with or without vomiting
• Difficulty breathing
• Confusion and lack of focus/concentration
• Dry mouth
• Bursts of anger or rage
• Blurred vision
• Skin rashes
• Disturbed, shallow breathing
• Constricted pupils
• Withdrawal from your social activities, friends, and family
• Withdrawal symptoms
• Poor focus
• Problems concentrating at work
• No longer having a medical need for Vicodin, but showing an inability to function without it
Aside from short and long-term symptoms, you can also have additional health problems from the other medications in Vicodin. These medicines can cause kidney and liver damage when taken in excessive amount or for too long.
Tolerance Can Be a Sign of a Hidden Addiction
Many addicts fall into the trap of believing their tolerance simply went up and they’re not addicted. It is rare outside of hospice patients and people enrolled in doctor-guided pain management programs for a Vicodin user to develop a tolerance level.
This should raise bells and whistles for you, especially if your doctor tells you not to double up doses or downright refuses to write a new higher milligram prescription. This is usually due to the acetaminophen. As the Vicodin goes up, the acetaminophen does too. High amounts and prolonged use of acetaminophen have its own side effects, and they can be deadly. Usually, patients turn to self-medicating and seek alternative ways to cope—and they are often just as dangerous if not worse.
If You Believe You Have an Addiction
Understand that you don’t have to and shouldn’t go through withdrawal or your recovery alone. Treatment options are available and finding a suitable one for you might be beneficial. You should consider contacting one of our counselors and discuss your situation.
Between 12 to 24 hours after you’ve stopped taking Vicodin, your body will start showing withdrawal symptoms. Within two to three days, and longer or shorter for some, your symptoms will be at their absolute worst before they subside.
You will feel two types of symptoms—physical and psychological. Physical symptoms linger for roughly one week. Do keep in mind that while you can’t control how your body handles withdrawal, you can harm yourself by attempting to do it alone because of the side effects. Many can lead to dehydration.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
• Body aches—extreme and flu-like
• Chills or sweating—your body will have difficulty regulating temperature
• Stomach and lower back cramps
• The return of pain related to the reason you started taking Vicodin.
• Allergy symptoms—runny nose or itchy nose and watery or itchy eyes
• Excessive yawning unassociated with boredom or being tired
• Excessive scratching
• Sensation that your skin is crawling
In addition to these, many of the symptoms associated with short and long-term abuse might also be present. You might be asking yourself is it worth it? Yes, the discomfort of a few days is worth a lifetime free from your dependency.
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
• Severe Anxiety—this can present in any number of ways, and if you already have anxiety, it will be worse. You will also feel anxiety over your own success.
• Irritability—this can include snapping at others for no or little reason.
• Insomnia—you might be unable to fall asleep during the first few days.
• Disturbed sleep—mostly due to physical symptoms, but you might also not sleep as soundly.
• Cravings—You might find yourself still fully consumed by the thought of taking Vicodin
• Depression—this can come and go, but similar to anxiety, if you already have depression, your symptoms might be worse.
Psychological symptoms can last a week or months to years. Every person is different. You might never fully shake the craving, either, which is why learning more about your addiction and new coping skills can really make a huge impact on your recovery.
If you’re ready to get started, our counselors can help 24 hours a day. Call 800-723-7376 and begin your journey to recovery.