Over two-million Americans suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, and Vicodin remains the painkiller of choice for many high school students.
Vicodin, a prescription medication used to treat moderate to severe pain, is perhaps the most commonly abused opioid today. It is also the painkiller most frequently prescribed. Physicians prescribe Vicodin to all different age groups to treat a variety of painful conditions, largely including dental and injury-related pain. Because Vicodin is so efficient in its efforts, the demand for this painkiller is high. Sales and production of the drug Vicodin have increased significantly in recent years, making it one of the most accessible, addictive prescription drugs for adolescents and young adults.
Vicodin is composed of two primary ingredients: Hydrocodone (a potent opiate painkiller) and Acetaminophen (a mild pain reliever also used in over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol®). Hydrocodone, being the most active component in Vicodin, is exactly what gives the drug such high potential for abuse and addiction. Hydrocodone products are of the most powerful prescription painkillers available. These drugs are manufactured to react in the body in a way similar to opium-related drugs like heroin. Like other opiate drugs, Vicodin works in the nervous system to block pain receptors in the brain. By doing so, Vicodin is able to quickly numb any sensations of pain we may perceive, and replace them with feelings of pleasure.
Vicodin, therefore, can be extremely effective in treating pain for prescribed patients. So much, in fact, that there were 207 million prescriptions written for opioid pain medications like Vicodin in the year 2013 alone. The copious amount of prescriptions being handed out, unfortunately, bears many subsequent opportunities for the non-medical use of Vicodin. Youth can easily obtain the drug from friends, family, or neighboring medicine cabinets.
Vicodin numbs the senses and, in excess, produces a powerful “high.” Its non-medical use involves taking advantage of Vicodin’s euphoric or pleasurable effects, and many addicted teens choose to crush and snort the drug.
But because Vicodin is already such a powerful pain med, even prescribed users are at risk of developing a tolerance. Young users are especially susceptible to opioid dependency. Each day, adolescents and young adults are prescribed Vicodin for post-wisdom teeth removal, sports-related injuries, and other seemingly acceptable, painful conditions. We forget that young users are especially susceptible to opioid dependency.
Warning Signs of Vicodin Addiction
When a user develops a dependency or addiction to Vicodin, his body will start to “need” the drugs again for “normal” day-to-day function. This poses the risk of other severe health consequences, such as seizures, convulsions, and a slowed heart rate. Vicodin can also cause respiratory depression, and many Vicodin-related overdoses result in a coma. If you believe your son is abusing Vicodin or prescription painkillers, it is extremely important to get him professional treatment. He may be at risk.
Keep an eye out for these immediate symptoms of Vicodin dependency:
- Exhaustion, drowsiness, and/or fatigue
- Severe mood swings
- Paranoia, anxiety, and increased sensitivity
- Forgetfulness or inability to focus on given tasks
- Defensiveness in attempt to hide drug use=
If you suspect a long-term Vicodin addiction has developed, look for these warning signs:
- Dosage increase: He needs a higher dosage to achieve its original effects.
- Continued use after his medical condition has improved
- Change in personality: You may notice shifts in his energy levels, mood, or concentration.
- Change in daily habits such as eating and sleeping
- Social withdrawal: Losing sight of relationships as a result of prioritizing drug activity
Vicodin Addiction Treatment
Vicodin addiction comes with intense withdrawal symptoms, so it is crucial to seek professional care when treating a Vicodin-dependent teen. Withdrawal to any opioid painkiller can be difficult and debilitating, and young users will have trouble eliminating these symptoms alone. As a result, many adolescents and young adults in the process of opioid withdrawal will seek out a residential treatment program where they can cope under licensed, watchful care. Many looking for Vicodin addiction treatment also seek out a long-term program, as it may take weeks before a user can truly recover from the physical symptoms of Vicodin abuse.
Some rehab facilities will treat opioid addictions with pharmacological medications, helping to ease withdrawal symptoms, diminish drug cravings, and treat overdoses. In many cases, though, a combined approach to treating Vicodin addiction is best. By adopting cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, a sober support network, a lot of self-determination and a little bit of help from addiction professionals, young users can truly combat Vicodin addiction. It is never too late to get help for your son. For more information on Vicodin addiction treatment program for young men, call Turning Point at 877-581-1793.