Vicodin contains a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone, and is used for the relief of moderate to moderately severe pain. Because it is a central nervous system suppressant, Vicodin can slow or stop your breathing. It should never be used in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Like all opioids, Vicodin may habit-forming, even at regular doses. In addition, Vicodin may be dangerous to the liver because of the presence of acetaminophen in the drug. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration changed their guidelines on acetaminophen products to limit the amount of acetaminophen in prescription painkillers like Percocet (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone). The limit was placed at 325 mg, but individuals taking these painkillers should also be wary of acetaminophen in over-the-counter cold and flu medications, to prevent overdose. Furthermore, if addicted to Vicodin, the withdrawal from Vicodin isn’t pleasant.
Perhaps your doctor gave you a prescription for Vicodin after surgery or as treatment for some other severe pain. Now, you have begun to experience some side effects from use of the drug, or your doctor has determined that you no longer need to use Vicodin. Some people respond by seeking illegitimate or even illegal sources for getting Vicodin. But now, as the side effects from use of Vicodin become more severe, or as you realize that your use of Vicodin is out of control, you have decided that it is time to put an end to your use of the drug. What can you expect during withdrawal from Vicodin?
Like other opioids, Vicodin does not just treat pain. It also causes the release of the neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine which produce a feeling of pleasure in the brain. Often, the amount of these neurochemicals released is often greater than the body usually releases. This results in a high, and the brain reduces the amount of serotonin and dopamine available in the brain in response to the excess amount of these neurochemicals. As you begin to withdraw from Vicodin, you will begin to experience some psychological changes, such as irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and confusion. This is due to the fact that there is less dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which limits the brain’s ability to feel pleasure. It will take some time for the brain to restore the normal amount of serotonin and dopamine. So for a while, your ability to feel pleasure will be limited.
You can also expect to suffer some physical discomfort. Because you have become dependent on Vicodin, you will experience cravings for the drug. You will probably not be as hungry as you normally would. Along with a lowered appetite, you should expect other physical discomforts, such as tremors, nausea, vomiting, sweating, diarrhea, shivering, muscle aches runny nose, fever, delusions, hallucinations, difficulty concentrating, itchy skin, disturbing dreams, nasal congestion, and rapid breathing. Your normal sleep patterns will also be disrupted. Your withdrawal symptoms will be more severe if you used large quantities of Vicodin, you have abused the drug for an extended period, or you have a history of health issues or mental health struggles.
Because of the severity of these symptoms, it is often beneficial to begin withdrawal in a detox center under medical supervision. Alternately, some victims of Vicodin addiction are put under anesthesia so that they will not suffer all of the discomfort that comes with withdrawal. This is a much more expensive method of withdrawal. Clonidine may be prescribed to treat the muscle aches and cramping that are a part of withdrawal. As with all opioids, Methadone may be useful in managing withdrawal symptoms from Vicodin, although it is quite addictive itself. The symptoms of withdrawal will be at their worst after about 7 days and will become less severe as the days go by. Many people who are recovering from addiction to Vicodin benefit from several weeks in a treatment facility. If you were prescribed Vicodin for chronic pain, you should expect your pain to return as you detox. If you use Vicodin for chronic pain, you may experience particularly intense pain as you detox.
As noted above, cravings for Vicodin can last for some time. Although, they will be less severe than they were at first. Because of these ongoing cravings, participation in some kind of support group will be helpful in the long-term. Beyond a support group, it will be helpful to seek support from family and friends. Hopefully, they will provide a supportive environment to help you persevere in recovery. Your family and friends should also be on the lookout for depression or suicidal thoughts and be ready to intervene if you do consider suicide. As your recovery continues, it will be helpful if family and friends provide you with drinking water or prepared food.
Vicodin is an opioid and, like all opioids, it produces both physical and medical effects in the user. The acetaminophen in Vicodin can also damage the liver. Withdrawal from Vicodin results in both physical discomfort and symptoms of depression. Some medications are available to mitigate the physical symptoms, and withdrawal in an inpatient facility or a partial hospitalization program is often appropriate. Because cravings may last for an extended period, support from professional treatment and family and friends can also be very useful.
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