The steps being taken because of the opioid crisis have somewhat cut down on Vicodin abuse and addiction, but it remains a serious problem. Detox and rehab is needed for anyone who wants to recover, but many people do not realize how important treatment is. This drug is highly addictive, and in some parts of the United States, it is still being widely prescribed.
Most people are aware of how serious the opioid epidemic has become. But even so, they continue to view Vicodin as being safer than a street drug like heroin. The reality is that that perception of safety is exactly what makes this drug so dangerous. At one point in time, it was one of the most highly prescribed opioid painkillers on the market. That resulted in a plentiful supply, which is why so many people have abused it.
Vicodin is dangerous, and it carries serious short and long-term effects. We want to help people understand the risks of Vicodin abuse and addiction and learn more about detox and rehab. Recovery is possible with the right treatment and support.
Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is an opioid painkiller that is often prescribed following surgical procedures. Doctors also prescribe it to treat moderate to severe pain.
It is not uncommon for people to unknowingly get addicted to this drug, even after a short period of time. Many people find that they experience withdrawal symptoms even if they only took it short-term, and according to their doctors’ instructions.
Vicodin is sold under a number of street names, such as:
When people abuse Vicodin, they typically start by increasing their dose. Eventually, as the addiction takes hold, they may use it along with other drugs or alcohol. The pills can also be crushed and snorted or mixed with a liquid and injected.
Even those who have been using Vicodin for quite some time often have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that they are addicted to it. Many don’t believe it’s possible to get addicted to Vicodin the same way you can become addicted to other types of drugs, and some simply feel in control of their Vicodin use.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re addicted to Vicodin, learning some of the more common Vicodin addiction symptoms can help you. These might include:
Have you noticed any of these Vicodin addiction signs in your own life? If you have noticed even one of them, you most likely have an addiction.
Some recent Vicodin abuse statistics tell us that as of 2009, about 16 million Americans had used a prescription pain medication for non-medical purposes at least once during that year. Also, Vicodin addictions cost Americans close to $500 billion each year. These statistics are quite shocking, but they definitely point to the fact that Vicodin abuse is a very serious problem in our country.
Vicodin abuse should not be confused with Vicodin addiction, but it often is. Vicodin abuse refers to the use of Vicodin outside of a doctor’s orders. However, if you’re abusing Vicodin without an addiction, you won’t experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it, and you also won’t feel compelled to use Vicodin on a regular basis. Even so, Vicodin abuse can easily lead to addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in 2018, 128 people died every day from overdosing on opioids. This statistic alone drove the United States into a national health emergency that desperately needed to be addressed. The CDC estimates that the economic burden of painkiller abuse is more than $78 billion a year. This figure includes the cost of healthcare, lost productivity, criminal justice involvement and addiction treatment.
But how did we find ourselves here?
The problem dates back to the late 1990s. Pharmaceutical companies had assured the medical company that opioid pain relievers were non-addictive. With that assurance, doctors began prescribing them frequently. They worked well, and there was no risk of abuse, so it seemed to be the logical conclusion.
It did not take long before reports began coming in about opioid abuse. People began overdosing on these drugs and diversion was widespread all over the United States.
As a result:
As was expected, once it became clear that opioid drugs like Vicodin were highly addictive, prescriptions became harder to come by. More doctors started offering alternative medications like Mobic, which are much less dangerous. But many people agree that they are also much less effective. This caused many people to turn to a different solution that could only be found on the street.
As we mentioned earlier, 6% of people who can no longer obtain prescription opioids eventually switch to heroin. That might seem like an insignificant amount, but it is still a large population of people.
NIDA tells us that people who abuse drugs like Vicodin are 19 times more likely to abuse heroin than those who do not. It is also interesting to note the changes taking place in those who are getting treatment. In the 1960s, 80% of people who sought addiction treatment services for opioid addiction started by using heroin. But in the 2000s, 75% of this population admitted to having used prescription opioids first. Close to 80% of people who abuse heroin state that they first started using prescription painkillers.
It typically does not take long for addicts to realize that heroin has many advantages over prescription drugs. For one, there comes a time when Vicodin or other opioids are no longer available. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is being used now more than ever before. This helps physicians and pharmacists keep tabs on the medications people are taking or when they were stopped. Doctor shopping was once considered the norm for people who were addicted to painkillers. But today, that is no longer the case because of the PDMP.
Second, heroin is much cheaper than prescription opioids. There is a plentiful supply of the drug in the United States, which means it is both more affordable and readily available. In addition, it is also important to note the differences in the drugs themselves. Many people who transition to heroin from prescription opioids report that they experience a better high. That information only serves to perpetuate their abuse and addictions.
A professional detoxification program is usually the first stop for someone getting help for their Vicodin addiction. It’s this initial stage that deals specifically with the often-excruciating process of withdrawal that comes from first quitting.
And for many, this stage can be one of the hardest to get through. In fact, many people suffering from a dependency problem with opioids like Vicodin find the process of withdrawal so physically and mentally uncomfortable that they’ll end up turning back to using just for relief.
That’s where a professional detoxification program comes in.
These programs help keep patients comfortable and safe during withdrawal, thus reducing the risk of relapsing while encouraging long-term sobriety.
They also protect patients from deadly complications that tend to occur along the way.
As the body becomes increasingly used to an addictive substance being in the system, it makes very real physical changes to accommodate it.
It may, for example, increase or decrease certain receptors designed to interact with the drug. And it may also stop producing dopamine, the body’s natural “feel good” chemical, since the drug is releasing it at an enormous rate.
These changes are actually what account for the rise of tolerance in a habitual Vicodin abuser.
The problem, though, is that when someone tries to quit an addictive substance, these changes stick around for a while. And it can take the body days, weeks, or even months to readjust to functioning normally all on its own.
While this period of readjustment is absolutely necessary to getting sober, it can also be incredibly uncomfortable too. And for many, it can be so unbearable that they end up relapsing.
Opioids like Vicodin are notorious for having one of the most difficult withdrawal syndromes to get through.
Users are regularly assaulted by a slew of physical symptoms like gut-wrenching nausea, near-constant vomiting and diarrhea, and muscle aches that seem to never end. And as far as psychological symptoms go, depression, anxiety, and irritability can be quite intense at the time too.
Plus, the cravings can be quite intense as well.
Below are a few accounts of opioid withdrawal from users across the internet.
“Basically feels like Im being continuously hit by a train. Like...this is hard to explain. Its sort of like the moment of impact -- the train slamming in to my body at a million miles an hour -- being stretched out for 4 - 5 days or however long Im sick, PLUS, sneezing, yawning, and sh***ing myself at the same time.
My entire body hurts, im irritable -- like violently angry, irritable --, I hate everyone, have to constantly poop, cant sit still for more than 20 seconds, my nose gets runny and makes me sneeze BUT not just a couple times. I seriously will sneeze like 20 times in a row with-in like 30 seconds. YAWNING.”
- Bluelight.org member sixpartseven
“Exhaustion (but don't count on sleeping), pain all over body, body temperature problems (chills/sweats), doing any movement is a monumental task, just walking up the stairs feels like running a marathon, uncontrollable arm/leg shakes and kicks, depression, boredom, time passes very slowly, nothing is interesting or enjoyable, eyes/nose water, yawn excessively.”
- Bluelight.org member CafeContin
Though most professional Vicodin detox programs will have the same goals in mind, not all will use the same structure or techniques to achieve these goals.
And while the majority of programs use a combination, there are two main categories of programs: medicated detoxes and holistic detoxes.
A medicated detoxification program is exactly what it sounds like – it uses a range of medications to help make detox a more comfortable experience for patients.
Many programs have begun using what are known as opioid-replacement therapies or ORTs that use drugs that interact with opioid receptors to reduce withdrawals and cravings (more on those later).
These programs may also use other prescription and over-the-counter drugs to help treat the symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal as well. Below are just some of the most common.
These kinds of programs may also use opioid-replacement therapies or ORTs. These therapies use drugs that actually interact with the same receptors that Vicodin stimulates, though to a much lesser degree. As a result, the patient experiences little to no withdrawals and reduced cravings without feeling any addictive high or euphoria.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex) is one of the most popular ORTs being used today. Though it can be habit-forming.
But naltrexone is increasingly becoming more common too. This drug essentially blocks the receptors without stimulating them. And as a result, someone who relapses won’t feel any euphoric effects when they do, thus removing the incentive to use again. Best of all, it’s completely non-addictive, unlike other ORTs.
Vivitrol, a once-a-month injection of naltrexone, has actually been shown to be just as effective at promoting sobriety as Suboxone.
A holistic detoxification program is a little bit different. Instead of relying on medications, these types of programs are guided by the idea that the body is already pretty good at detoxifying itself without the help of drugs.
And instead, they aim to support the body while it heals. Treatments, then, tend to focus on a more natural approach to detox using diet, exercise, and stress management.
In most cases, Vicodin will go through inpatient detoxification – meaning they actually stay at the facility where they’re getting treatment. This allows for a higher level of care as well as 24/7 medical oversight – critical for preventing and treating dangerous complications.
But some programs may offer what’s known as partial hospitalization instead of inpatient care. These programs, also called PHPs, are quite a bit more flexible and allow patients to come into a treatment center for just several hours a day. Here they may receive special medications to help treat withdrawals or undergo other therapies designed to get them through the detox process more comfortably.
However, these programs aren’t right for all Vicodin addicts. And most will actually require a higher level of care than partial hospitalization can provide. Talking with a qualified addiction specialist will help you determine if a PHP is right for you or your loved one.
Not everyone will need detoxification. But even still, there are a number of benefits to these professional programs that make them a valuable part of any recovery plan.
The three biggest benefits by far, though, are helping to ease withdrawals, treating complications, and preventing deadly relapse.
Relapse rates for addictions involving opioids like Vicodin are especially high in the world of drugs. In fact, studies have estimated that these rates can climb to as high as 88% over the course of just 3 years following treatment.
And part of the problem for opioid addicts is that the withdrawal process is so brutal. Grueling physical symptoms, jarring psychological ones, and a long duration of these symptoms can make pushing through detox particularly tough.
One of the primary goals of a professional detoxification program is to ease these withdrawal symptoms to make recovery far more comfortable. And as a result, patients will have a higher rate of success along the way.
Another important function of a detox program is the prevention and treatment of dangerous complications.
By themselves, the symptoms of opioid withdrawal are not directly fatal like they are for alcohol or benzodiazepines.
However, this withdrawal syndrome is associated with a variety of complications, some of which can be quite deadly. These include:
A professional detox will protect patients from these complications with qualified medical treatments, making it far safer than trying to detox alone.
Finally, getting clean from opioids like Vicodin can be especially deadly without professional help due to the high risk of a deadly relapse.
To explain, opioids are particularly good at building tolerance in addicts. Physical tolerance has even been observed in patients just hours after taking high doses of opioids.
But just as tolerance rises quickly, it also drops fast as well – faster than most people might expect.
The problem, then, comes from someone going through detox only to relapse soon after on the same dose they were using before. Doing so often exposes their body – now far less tolerant to the drug – to far more than their body can now handle.
As a result, recovering Vicodin addicts are at an especially high risk of accidental overdose after relapse.
Hollywood starts like Demi Lovato have even been in the news after experiencing such accidental overdose.
A detox program will help educate patients about the dangers of accidental overdose while also reducing the odds of relapsing at the same time.
After professional detox comes Vicodin rehabilitation, the second phase of recovery.
While detoxification is concerned mostly with treating the physical dependency side of addiction, rehab is focused on addressing the mental dependency part of a Vicodin addiction.
And it’s a critical step.
Over the course of a substance abuse problem, the brain also makes a variety of physical changes to adjust to the presence of the addicted drug. Most notably, the reward center in the brain, called the “nucleus accumbens,” alters dramatically – so much so that many addicts are actually unable to produce pleasure from anything but drug use in some cases.
In fact, brain imaging studies have documented these changes. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) points out
“Brain imaging studies from people addicted to drugs show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision-making, learning, memory, and behavior control.
Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of a person who becomes addicted.”
A Vicodin rehabilitation program is designed to help reverse these changes, or otherwise to help patients cope with these changes in a healthy, non-drug-using way.
Many people are under the false impression that since detoxification reverses the body’s dependency on a drug, patients are fully cured after going through detox.
But as long as the brain’s dependency (and the physical changes that cause it) still remains, a recovering addict is still at major risk of relapsing.
In fact, NIDA blatantly states that “medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use.”
In the end, a detoxification program alone can help get patients through withdrawals, sure. But the underlying compulsion to keep on using Vicodin or other addictive drugs will still remain without rehab.
And that means that relapse is extremely likely, thus continuing the cycle of addiction.
A professional Vicodin rehabilitation program will address an individual’s addiction through a variety of treatments and therapies.
Which will be used, however, depends on the program itself. And in most cases, each program is unique in how they treat addiction.
In general, most treatments will fall into one of three categories: one-on-one counseling, group talk sessions, and behavioral therapies.
For many, addiction is the result of self-medicating to cope with undiagnosed or unexplored underlying problem.
It may be a mental disorder like depression, anxiety, or OCD. It could be a past emotional or physical trauma. Or it may very well be just an inability to effectively deal with the stresses of day-to-day life.
One-on-one counseling sessions will help patients get to the root of their addiction to Vicodin. And they’ll also teach patients how to deal with these problems without the help of addictive substances.
Group talk is an important aspect of any recovery program. During this kind of therapy, patients will share their experiences with addiction – their ups, their downs, their techniques for staying clean, and the lessons they’ve learned from their problem with addiction.
The benefit of group talk sessions is twofold.
First, patients learn more about their own addiction while also learning from the experiences of others. It’s almost like a recovery sounding board – where patients can test out new ideas and get feedback and insights that they may not have had access to otherwise.
And secondly, group talk also helps establish a strong social support network. Support from others is an integral part of recovery. And with the connections made in group talk sessions, many patients leave programs with sources of support that can end up lasting a lifetime.
While counseling and group talk help patients better understand their addiction, behavioral therapies give recovering addicts the real-world tools and strategies they need to stay clean.
These therapies teach patients how to overcome powerful cravings, avoid unexpected triggers, and take back control over their brain.
There are a number of behavioral therapies endorsed by NIDA, including:
Finding the right Vicodin rehabilitation program to meet your specific needs can be tough. And part of the difficulty is understanding the difference between these programs.
One of the main distinguishing factors is the type of rehabilitation program. In general, there are three main types of Vicodin rehabs available: inpatient, outpatient, and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs).
For most people struggling with a Vicodin addiction, the best treatment choice is going to be an inpatient rehabilitation program.
An inpatient facility is what most people imagine when they think of rehab. Patients actually stay at the facility and eating, sleeping, and treatment all take place in the same centralized location. They’re usually about 30 days long too.
Inpatient programs offer the highest level of care while also surrounding patients with the most amenities to make recovery as comfortable as possible. And most people with anything but a mild addiction to this prescription painkiller will likely get the most out of these programs.
However, one downfall is that an inpatient can be quite disruptive to normal day-to-day life since patients aren’t usually allowed to attend school or go to work during this time.
The more flexible treatment option, an outpatient rehabilitation program for Vicodin is going to offer much more freedom in the recovery process. Though that freedom also comes at the cost of the intensity of care.
In these programs (usually around 3 months long), patients are free to spend their days and nights as they choose. They can go to work, engage in recreational activities, and tend to family obligations as they would normally. And for a few hours in the evenings several days a week, they go into the facility for treatment.
Many people will use an outpatient rehabilitation program as a way to “step down” from inpatient treatment and transition successfully back into normal life.
But of course, the greater freedom that these programs offer can also increase the likelihood of relapsing for some.
Splitting the difference between inpatient and outpatient Vicodin rehab programs, an IOP offers a high level of care along with a flexible schedule that’s accommodating to a busy lifestyle.
Like outpatient, treatment sessions usually take place either in the evenings or over the weekends – making it a great option for those who still need to hold down a job. However, these treatment sessions usually last for a few hours longer and tend to occur more frequently throughout the week.
They’re also usually around 3 months long too.
These programs are great for those who need a bit more attention than outpatient can offer but can’t quite commit to an inpatient program.
As a complex brain disease, it isn’t surprising that many addicts tend to suffer from a range of mental disorders in addition to their substance use disorder.
This is called having a “co-occurring disorder” or “dual diagnosis.”
But what may surprise you is just how common this tendency is.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, half of all addicts also experience some other mental disorder. On top of that, half of the people who struggle with a mental disorder will also have a substance use disorder as well.
In the rest of the general population, only about 20% will suffer from a mental disorder. And that means that addicts are more than twice as likely to have a problem like this compared to the rest of the population.
And having a co-occurring disorder makes treating an addiction especially tricky. However, doing so is vital. And neglecting to treat a co-occurring disorder during rehab can increase the rates of relapse substantially.
That’s because co-occurring disorders tend to feed off of one another. Addiction, for instance, may have developed as a way to treat the symptoms of depression or anxiety.
And when the addiction is removed from the equation with a professional program, that underlying mental disorder still remains and will likely cause a relapse at some point.
Partnering with a Vicodin rehab with dual diagnosis specialty means that patients will be able to treat both their addiction and any underlying mental disorders that can make recovery difficult later.
And on top of that, the majority of patients don’t actually know that they also have a problem like depression and anxiety. The experts at a dual diagnosis facility will be able to spot the signs of these mental disorders early on and develop the appropriate program to treat it.
Like many people, you might realize that going to a Vicodin rehab is the right move for you, but you have to admit that you’re concerned about how much it will cost you.
And you aren’t alone in being worried about it. In fact, a recent national survey funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that as many as one-third of addicts willing to get help didn't receive it because they were concerned about costs. That's nearly 200 thousand Americans left untreated because of perceived costs alone.
What you might not be aware of is the fact that there are so many different ways to make rehabilitation more affordable, especially today.
Below are some of the best worth considering.
Recent changes in healthcare legislation have led to some pretty exciting changes in addiction treatment. Most notably, the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act (MHPAEA) have basically forced insurance companies to give equal coverage to mental problems and physical problems. And that means addiction treatment, a verified brain disease, is now largely covered – at least in part.
And more than likely, your health insurance policy actually will cover your stay at Vicodin rehab, at least partially. Many people are surprised to find that it covers it completely.
The most important thing you can do is to find Vicodin rehabs that participate with your health insurance company. That will allow them to maximize your benefits for you, so that you end up paying very little, or even nothing, out of your own pocket for Vicodin rehab.
Verifying insurance coverage is easy to do too. This short online form only takes a few minutes to fill out and is a great way to give you a better idea of which services are covered by your provider.
Some programs will also offer a range of grants and scholarships for prospective patients. These programs provide funds for treatment with no need to pay them back – just like any other grant or scholarship.
However, each will likely have a number of strict qualifications too. And as a result, not everyone will be eligible to receive the prize money. They may, for instance, require a certain household income, demonstrated charitable acts in the community, or a winning essay. It depends entirely on the individual program.
And while it may be difficult to qualify for a grant or scholarship, you should always check with a Vicodin rehab program to see if they offer any. They could be a great way to cut down on costs and make treatment much more affordable.
Many facilities will also have a variety of payment options to make getting treatment more financially viable.
They may, for instance, provide financing for a program. This is essentially a low-interest loan from the facility that patients are able to pay back over time, plus a small interest fee.
They may also offer payment plans whereby patients can break apart the final cost into multiple monthly or yearly installments. That way, the initial cost is far lower, making it easier to afford.
And finally, some programs may also have sliding-scale prices. For facilities that provide this kind of benefit, the final cost of treatment varies based on individual income of patients. Someone working a minimum wage job, then, would end up paying less for treatment than a corporate CEO with a 6-figure income.
Another option is to find free or low-cost treatment facilities. In most cases, these are local support groups like AA and NA or are programs are run by government agencies/large-scale charities.
The Salvation Army, for example, provides one of the biggest addiction treatment services in the country. And every single year, it helps more than 150 thousand Americans overcome their substance use disorder.
However, there are some problems with free & low-cost Vicodin rehabilitation programs. They may, for instance, have less comfortable amenities. Living quarters may be cramped, they may not have exercise facilities, and their extra-curricular activities may be lacking.
On top of that, the quality of treatment may be lower too. Presiding physicians may have less time for one-on-one care, and the variety of treatments may not compare to private facilities too.
And lastly, these programs are often much harder to get into. Besides an especially long waiting list, they also tend to require much more paperwork and documentation. Proof of household income, employment papers, and even residency forms may all come into play here. And that can mean waiting weeks, months, or even years before finally getting through the front door.
It’s for these reasons that you may want to think twice before enrolling in free or low-cost Vicodin rehabilitation programs.
Now that you know a bit more about Vicodin rehabilitation, the question is, “Do you need help for your Vicodin problem?”
Many people find that while they suspect that they have an addiction to Vicodin, they’re really not all that certain that they do. Maybe that’s how you feel, and you’d like to know what signs you should look for within yourself that indicate that an addiction is in place.
Have you ever:
Any one of these indicates that you may be addicted to Vicodin, and it’s best to talk with someone from a Vicodin addiction treatment center to determine what your next steps should be.
You can also take a short online addiction quiz to get a better idea of whether or not you’re struggling with an addiction. It only takes a few minutes to complete and can be a simple first-step towards getting the professional help you or your family member really needs.
Realizing that you have an addiction to Vicodin can make you feel as though all hope is lost if you didn’t mean to get addicted to it. It may also come as a shock to you if you’ve been knowingly abusing this medication. Regardless of the reasons behind your addiction, or how long you’ve been using Vicodin, finding the right Vicodin rehabilitation program for you is the key to recovery and long-term sobriety.
But not all programs are created equal. And you need to know exactly what to look for in a program before partnering with one.
Here at Northpoint Washington, we’ve had the opportunity and the privilege to help so many people overcome their addictions to Vicodin. It is a dangerous addiction to overcome, but it can be done with the right support.
Our inpatient Vicodin rehabilitation programs in Edmonds use only the best evidence-based treatments to help patients overcome their addiction. We offer one of the highest staff-to-patient ratios in the area, and our programs are also nationally accredited by the Joint Commission – a testament to our dedication to quality service.
We’re passionate about recovery. Just ask some of our successful program graduates.
Perhaps you have additional questions that you would like to have answered about what you can expect when you go to Vicodin addiction treatment. If so, or if you’re ready to get started right away, please get in touch with us today.
An addiction doesn’t have to be a death sentence. And with the right help, you or your loved one can recover.
If you choose to stop taking Vicodin on your own, you will most certainly experience withdrawal symptoms, and these might include:
What are the Side Effects of Vicodin Use?
The longer you use Vicodin, the more apt you are to experience the long term effects of it, and these can include seizures, breathing problems and liver damage. You also run the risk of going into a coma.
It truly doesn’t matter how you came to be addicted to Vicodin. No matter how long you’ve been participating with Vicodin abuse, or how long you’ve been struggling with your addiction, the most important thing you can do is to get immediate help. When Vicodin use is allowed to continue, the results can be devastating to your body and to your health.
At Northpoint Recovery, we want you to know that we understand where you’re coming from. We know how difficult it can be to admit that you have an addiction to a medication, and that you need professional help for that addiction. That’s why we have a team of experts in the addiction field who are standing by to help you.