How Does Addiction to Vicodin Develop? What Are Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Generally speaking, addiction, also called a substance use disorder, is considered a brain disease. No matter the substance the person is using, the prolonged exposure of the brain to it will cause alterations. Addiction can damage multiple areas of the brain, including the ones responsible for judgment, decision-making, self-control, and behavior. What this translates to is a person who has a need for a certain substance, and that has less control over their behavior and what they’ll do for it. 

The reason for this is because chemical substances change the chemical, hormonal, and neural makeup of the nervous system. After having that supply of the substance for a long time, the brain becomes dependent on it to function properly. Cutting that supply will leave it with both excess and a lack of chemicals that control brain functionality. This general disarray is what makes someone crave the substance and experience withdrawal symptoms.

Nonetheless, the specific way each drug affects the brain differs. Each substance will stimulate the production of different chemicals, neurotransmitters, and hormones in the body. So when considering Vicodin, there are specific effects and Vicodin withdrawal symptoms an addict might suffer from.

Vicodin Use: Effects and Addiction

Vicodin is a narcotic, pain-relieving medication consisting of both hydrocodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen (a non-steroidal pain reliever). Hydrocodone is the substance that triggers addiction as it helps the brain perceive pain differently. It also has a direct effect on the “pleasure” receptors, which is what helps the person feel good.  

Vicodin is available on a prescription basis for the treatment of health issues that cause moderate to severe pain. The problem with Vicodin use is that, if it’s taken for a prolonged period of time, it might cause addiction. There are also issue with the possible side effects of Vicodin as well.

Vicodin works as a nervous system depressant. This means that it can make someone relax and “slow down”. But with time, Vicodin can actually worsen symptoms of other disorders, especially depression. If that is the case, this will end up making the person experience co-occurring disorders. That means a dual diagnosis, which can bring on another set of mental problems along with addiction.

Aside from the risk of addiction, Vicodin can also affect health in other ways. Acetaminophen can damage the liver considerably when taken repeatedly for too long. Some of the damage can be permanent, especially in case of overdoses. Therefore, the effects of Vicodin addiction go much beyond Vicodin withdrawal symptoms. 

Determining Signs of a Vicodin Addiction

The process of becoming addicted to a certain drug is gradual and takes time. A person might not realize they’ve become addicted until they’ve hit rock bottom. Others might realize that on their own sooner. However, if you are concerned for a loved one (or even yourself), there are some clear signs that can tell you when drug use has gone too far.

First, know that any level of misuse should be a cause for concern when it comes to Vicodin use. This drug is a prescription medication because it requires medical monitoring and control in order to avoid health problems. Opioid misuse can easily trigger addiction due to its strong effects on the nervous system. 

That said, addiction can change someone’s behavior drastically. And as a person gets deeper into their substance abuse, it will get much worse. Some of the typical pattern behavior of addiction that people might display are:

  • Isolating themselves and showing no interest in activities and people they once enjoyed
  • Obsessive behavior related to buying or using Vicodin
  • Secretive, manipulating, and lying behavior being witnessed constantly
  • Engaging in risky behavior with disregard for the possible consequences
  • Complete loss of control both in how much they use and in their lives in general
  • Denying the existence of addiction when confronted, even with proof shown
  • Getting into financial or legal trouble, sometimes constantly
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits that affect weight and energy
  • Hoarding a big supply and/or having stashes in unusual places
  • Displaying Vicodin withdrawal symptoms when not using it

While one or other sign might not be a cause for concern, multiple ones can be considered red flags. These are all related to addiction in general. However, Vicodin withdrawal can bring on behavior and effects that are specific to Vicodin addiction.

What Are the Most Prevalent Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms?

The severity and types of Vicodin withdrawal symptoms a person experiences depend on the dosage a person uses and for how long they have been using the substance. There are different levels of symptoms, but more often than not, they can be quite severe. The main, most common Vicodin withdrawal effects experienced are:

Severe Digestive Issues

Prescription narcotic painkillers can affect the digestive system in many ways. When these medications stop being taken, it is common for a person to experience stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These symptoms can also result in a lack of appetite and significant weight loss.

Muscle Weakness

Cutting the supply of Vicodin to the nervous system can also cause issues with muscle tremors, weakness, pain, and instability. These Vicodin withdrawal symptoms can make dangerous falls or self-inflicted injuries more likely.

Unstable Moods

Those stopping the use of Vicodin can experience some degree of mood swings or personality changes. In some cases, this may be a result of the increase in pain once they stop taking the medication. They might be very irritable as well, easily annoyed due to the constant discomfort.

Anxiety and Depression

Many people suffer from anxiety attacks or worsening depression once they stop using prescription painkillers. Since these medications have a stimulating effect on the pleasure centers of the brain, this is an expected withdrawal symptom. As mentioned, the prolonged depressant effects of the drug can also worsen depression, as it might take time for the body to recover from them.

Extreme Fatigue

The process of detoxing from Vicodin can cause a lot of agitation along with the previously mentioned anxiety. Many people quitting the drug might experience restlessness to the point of having insomnia. As the additional depressant effect of Vicodin takes a while to wear out, the person might feel more tired. Altogether, the entire scenario is not favorable in terms of energy, making the person tired constantly.

While these are the main Vicodin withdrawal symptoms, there are others that a person who is addicted might experience. While detoxing from this drug, individuals might also experience other issues like sweating, chills, and/or fever.

The Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline

The time it might take to stop experiencing the most acute symptoms of addiction can vary from one to two weeks, but it depends on a number of factors. The dosage, how long the person took Vicodin for, genetics, and many other problems that can affect the level of addiction. Still, it might be possible to draw an average time according to most experiences.

Considering how Vicodin’s half-life is about four hours, the first symptoms might begin in four to eight hours after the last dosage. Though they might start as mild ones, like headaches or agitation, they will eventually become more intense. These might take about a week to actually wear off. 

However, some people might experience protracted withdrawal. This means that the usual acute symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal persist past the expected timeframe. For short-acting opioids, such as Vicodin, this can be anywhere between four to ten days.

After the first week to ten days clean, symptoms might start to finally get better and much more manageable. But another great issue with Vicodin addiction is the psychological effect it can have on a person. This is why detoxification alone is not enough for someone to become sober and stay clean. In order to have a chance at overcoming addiction, it is important to seek proper help in a substance abuse treatment program.

Get Help For Vicodin Withdrawal and Addiction At Crest View Recovery Center

The symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal can be quite intense. Because of that, people might risk addiction relapse when trying to get clean on their own. And not just that, but these effects during detox can be quite dangerous, and taking medication available might not help or even make them worse. That is why it is highly recommended that people trying to get clean have medically-assisted detox, and afterward, start a rehab treatment. 

So if you want a more comfortable and safe process, you should consider Crest View Recovery Center. We are a high-quality rehabilitation center serving the needs of people looking to get clean in a center in Asheville, North Carolina. Besides psychiatric and medical help, we also provide many holistic activities proven to help the mind and the body heal as well. From yoga to wilderness therapy, we make sure our patients get the best of their time with us.

Our programs are all based on evidence-supported methods, with a focus on reality therapy and treatment. We give our patients tools, strategies, and coping mechanisms to avoid relapse and become independent once they finish their program. Additionally, we also provide family counseling, as we acknowledge the importance of family support and understanding in this moment of transition.

Stop allowing an untreated addiction to prevent you from living the life you deserve and desire. You can overcome addiction with the help of a reliable rehab center. Call (866) 327-2505 to contact us today. You’ll learn more about our facility and how we can help you overcome substance use disorder in your life. Our treatment programs can change your life for the better, and lead you to become a healthier, happier you.