Vicodin is often prescribed for relief of pain after surgery or serious injury. As an opiate, however, Vicodin can be addictive. The consequences of being addicted to Vicodin can be serious, and recovery from the abuse of Vicodin can be difficult. Like many addictions, the first step in rehab for Vicodin is detox. After detox, the recovering will benefit from therapeutic psychiatric treatment. Before addressing the nature of this treatment, a brief review of Vicodin and its effects will be useful.
A combination of hydrocodone and Acetaminophen, Vicodin works by blocking pain receptors in the brain. It is one of the most frequently prescribed painkillers in the country. It also gives a strong sense of happiness, which is a big part of it’s addictive risk. Dependence can develop after only a few weeks of using Vicodin. Hydrocodone, like any opiate, affects pain receptors in the brain, and the acetaminophen increases the likelihood of physical dependency.
As dependence on Vicodin develops, the user will experience drowsiness, difficulty focusing on tasks, anxiety, mood swings and nausea. In order to get more Vicodin, users will see several doctors to try to get more prescriptions for the drug. As the dependence on Vicodin increases, the addict will focus more and more on ways to get more of the drug and will not feel normal without it. As with any addictive drug, the user uses Vicodin to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Sustained long-term use of Vicodin may result in damage to the liver and decreased heart rate and respiration. Because it is a depressant of the central nervous system (CNS), Vicodin is more dangerous when it is used along with alcohol or other CNS depressants.
Before Vicodin addiction treatment can begin, the addict will need to acknowledge that they have a problem. Since Vicodin was most likely first prescribed by a physician, the user may try to justify their use on the fact that it is a legal substance which their doctor instructed them to use. They will try to make the claim that their doctor gave them the drug, in spite of the fact that their use exceeds their doctor’s prescription in both the amount that is used and in the duration of use. Because of this, it may be necessary for family and friends of the addict to stage an intervention with the support of a trained professional. An important part of this intervention is a workable plan for detox and rehab.
Treatment begins with detox. The withdrawal symptoms associated with Vicodin detox include difficulty sleeping, pain in the muscles, twitching in the legs, nausea and diarrhea. Buprenorphine and Methadone may be used to moderate more severe symptoms of withdrawal.
Once detox is completed, the victim of Vicodin addiction is ready to continue the process of rehab. The first decision to be made is whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is more appropriate. This decision is made based upon the severity of the addiction and the support system of the recovering addict. The more severe the addiction, the more inpatient or at least intensive outpatient treatment is needed. It is also possible to undergo inpatient detox so that withdrawal symptoms can be medically treated, then continue rehab on an outpatient basis.
An important element of rehab is a thorough assessment of the recovering addict to determine the causes of addiction. In many cases, an underlying psychiatric issue played a role in the development of addiction. Individual and group therapy are often important elements of rehab from Vicodin addiction. It is important that the patient not be simply sent on their way after detox. There may be professional, legal or social ramifications of being addicted to Vicodin. Mental health issues may have contributed to the development of the addiction. All of these should be addressed if the patient is to succeed in recovery.
The recovering addict will benefit from behavioral therapy in order to learn needed skills to manage their life without the use of Vicodin and learn about the reasons for their abuse of Vicodin. This behavioral therapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, talk therapy and group therapy. In addition to professional therapy, self-help groups provide ongoing support for those in recovery. They provide an environment where the recovering addict can gain further insight regarding their addictive behavior and be both challenged and supported by others who are also in recovery. For those who are religious, a trusted spiritual leader can also be a great source of support.
As one of the most frequently prescribed pain medications, Vicodin is a frequent drug of addiction. Sustained use of Vicodin beyond the physician’s initial prescription carries with it significant risks. Recovery from addiction to Vicodin involves both detox and rehab, preferably with the support of trained professionals. The family and friends of persons who are victims of addiction to Vicodin play an important role in recovery beginning with intervention and continuing through detox and rehab. If somebody you care about is addicted to Vicodin, the time to intervene is now, not later.
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