Vicodin or Hydrocodone (also known as Anexsia, Dicodid, Hycodan, Hydromet, Hycomine, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Novahistex, Hydroco, Tussionex, Vicoprofen, and Xodol) is an opiate that is semi-synthetic. It is derived from two naturally occurring opiates, codeine and thebaine.
Vicodin is an analgesic and anti-tussive (used for coughs). Hydrocodone can be found in tablet, capsule and syrup form. In recent years, there has been an increase in illicit drug use of vicodin.
Vicodin, like other narcotics, relieves pain. It does so by binding to receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Vicodin can be taken with or without food, but under no circumstances should be taken with alcohol. At present, the FDA does not know whether use by a pregnant woman is contraindicated. Therefore, use during pregnancy is not recommended.
What makes someone likely to abuse Vicodin?
In the last ten years, narcotic use has increased greatly. It has been found that use of these drugs is more prevalent in mid-western non-urban areas. The majority of the inpiduals utilizing these drugs are privately insured. One study conducted in 2000 at an addiction unit found that 53% of those admitted were dependent on Vicodin.
The majority of the inpiduals who were dependent on opiates were likely to have some sort of other drug dependence. In fact in the mentioned study, 83% had another type of drug addiction and 45.1% had additional psychiatric disorders. Over 60% had a history of addiction treatment and had been previously admitted for psychiatric illness.
It has been found that Vicodin is utilized more often than Oxycodone. The biggest predictor of Vicodin abuse is alcoholism or another type of drug addiction. For patients who are in need of the pain relief provided by opiates that have a history of drug abuse expert assessment and monitoring is required.
One word - Pain
Vicodin is used for treatment of pain. This is the reason that inpiduals who can afford to seek medical treatment are more likely to become addicted. The most common source of pain reported includes the head and neck. On average narcotic medications were used for thirty seven months. Though the medical issue with which patients presented was addressed the potential for drug addiction was not given importance. Utilizing Vicodin with claims of chronic pain real or imaginary can and has led to drug addiction.
In addition to the generalized risk of becoming addicted to Vicodin these inpiduals are at risk for withdrawal from the drug which in many cases can be deadly. It is for this reason that many patients who experience chronic illness do not want to use prescription medication. There is the fear of dependence, addiction as well as suffering the many different side effects that accompany the use of Vicodin.
What are the side effects of Vicodin?
Common side effects:
- Vomiting and constipation
Vicodin contains a high amount of acetaminophen or Tylenol. This keeps a lot of potential addicts from using Vicodin in excessive amounts. Acetaminophen is very damaging to the liver if consumed in excessive amounts over long periods of time. Ten to fifteen grams of acetaminophen in a twenty four hour period can result in severe liver toxicity. Fifteen to twenty grams in one day can be fatal.
Since Vicodin is water soluble it is possible to extract some of the acetaminophen by using hot or cold water which in turn makes the drug more palatable. Extracting the acetaminophen involves crushing the tablets and then allowing them to dissolve in hot water. The mixture is then cooled and ran through a coffee filter. In thirty minutes, most of the acetaminophen has been removed from the solution. This makes the mixture much safer to consume. In order to avoid all of these potentially devastating side effects many addicts use opiates that contain one substance such as OxyContin.
Only in some cases can someone take up to 120 milligrams of Vicodin per day. In order for this to be possible one must titrate or slowly increase the medication up and is only intended for opiate dependent patients. For these inpiduals the patients need to be monitored very carefully. Otherwise there is the possibility of overdose. The symptoms of overdose can not only be devastating but also deadly. Signs of overdose include:
- Respiratory Depression
- Extreme Drowsiness
- Cold or Clammy Skin
- Bradycardia (slowing of heart beat), and hypotension
- Circulatory Collapse, Cardiac Arrest or Death
Vicodin addiction like any other drug is a serious matter not to be taken lightly. Lack of attention to this topic can lead to overdose which as noted above can result in death. If one suspects he or she is becoming addicted or knows someone who may be experiencing said effects a medical professional should be contacted to avoid a possibly devastating outcome.
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