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How to treat Vicodin addiction

How addictive is Vicodin?

Vicodin, an opioid blend of hydrocodone and acetaminophen,  is quite addictive.  In fact, you can become physically dependent on Vicodin within a few weeks of daily use. Why?  Vicodin, like most opioids, affects pain receptors in the brain while relaxing smooth muscle. But unlike generic hydrocodone, the acetaminophen mixed into Vicodin creates a higher chance of developing a physical dependency. So how can you treat Vicodin dependency and identify psychological addiction? We explore here and invite you to ask any question you may have about Vicodin addiction treatment and the bottom of the article.

Am I addicted to Vicodin?

Vicodin is only meant to treat moderate to severe pain over short amounts of time, and for less than a few weeks of constant dosing. Vicodin is not meant to be used over extended periods of time. However, Vicodin not only takes care of pain, the hydrocodone contained in Vicodin can also create pleasurable reactions in the brain and in the body. Because of this, people continue to use Vicodin long past what is directed. Still others crush up, snort or take Vicodin tablets nasally or try to inhale smoked Vicodin, doing what they can to get a quick high. So how do you know if you’re addicted to Vicodin, or not?

If you think you are addicted to Vicodin, then you will exhibit one or several of the following symptoms.

  • continued non-medical use of Vicodin
  • craving or obssessive thinking about Vicodin
  • needing Vicodin to feel normal
  • doctor shopping to fill your Vicodin prescription
  • obtaining Vicodin illegally
  • severe withdrawal symptoms occur when you stop taking Vicodin
  • taking Vicodin to escape or mediate pyscho-emotional issues
  • taking Vicodin to escape or mediate withdrawal symptoms
  • Vicodin affects your personal and professional relationships

Can I just stop taking Vicodin?”  It depends on how much you’ve been taking, and for how long.  But, in general, you know you are ready to treat Vicodin addiction when you notice the symptoms and can admit to having a problem. Once you notice that your Vicodin use is affecting your life in ways you don’t want, you can begin to think about treatment. This is not everyone’s path to treatment, however. Sometimes, people need to involuntary treatment ordered by courts. Or treatment that is mandated by loved ones who feel they are a danger to themselves. But, a level of wanting help needs to be there somewhere.

Treating Vicodin addiction

If you have reviewed the list of symptoms and have come to the conclusion you or a loved one may be addicted to Vicodin, there are several options that can support your decision to recover from Vicodin addiction. Matching people with the right treatment is an important step in starting and maintaining a successful recovery. Generally, effective treatments blend both medical and behavioral treatments to address chemical and pscyho-emotional dependency on a drug. That way, both the physical and mental aspects of the addiction are being treated. The two major ways that medical professionals currently treat Vicodin are:

1. Pharmaceutical medications for Vicodin dependency and addiction

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2. Behavioral interventions for Vicodin addiction

1. Medications for Vicodin addiction treatment

The first class of popular medications used to treat opiate or opioid addiction aim to act on opioid pain receptors in the brain during acute Vicodin detox, or over long term managed care. This class of drugs includes methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone and naloxone. Some block the action of opioids, while others occupy opioid receptors to stabilize cravings. Some over-the-counter medications are also helpful in treating Vicodin withdrawal symptoms. NSAIDs can help ease the symptoms ofinitial detox, while you can seek a prescription for clonidine to address particular symptoms.

Sometimes, addiction is the result of underlying psychological issues that may be affecting you. This is why anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds can help during Vicodin addiction treatment. Because of the way opioids like Vicodin change your brain chemistry, you can develop complications with mood and anxiety. As you are recovering from an addiction, a psychiatrist can help prescribe medications such as SSRIs or benzodiazepines such as Valium or Xanax that can help treat symptoms of depression while you are learning to be recover and remain Vicodin-free.

2. Behavioral treatments for Vicodin addiction

There are several types of behavioral treatments which address Vicodin addiction. These include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management interventions
  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • Motivational incentives
  • Talk therapy (individual or group)
  • Support groups

Behavioral treatments for any kind of drug addiction engage addicts in their own drug abuse treatment. Behavioral interventions makes you personally responsible for your own addiction treatment and success. Behavioral interventions for Vicodin addiction can include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, group or individual therapy. Therapies such as these help you access the emotional and psychological problems which compel Vicodin use and also give you the language you need to understand not only yourself, but the environment of addiction. Behavioral treatments for Vicodin addiction can be extremely empowering and change the way you view your life. Therapies can also teach life skills to handle stressful circumstances or help people identify environmental cues that may trigger intense craving for drugs and prompt another cycle of compulsive abuse.

Help for Vicodin addiction

Now that you know a little more about how to treat Vicodin addiction…where can you go to receive help? Below are several options and resources which provide help for addiction to Vicodin. Not all of these treatments are for everyone. But eventually you will find what works best for you.

1. Vicodin addiction treatment center

Treatment centers are available to people diagnosed with the condition of drug addiction who want to get away from their environment and focus on their recovery. These programs can span a few weeks to several months, depending on which program you decide to participate in. Many Vicodin addiction treatment centers are residential, but a few are outpatient. During a stay at a rehab center, you are monitored by staff,doctors, and therapists to make sure that you are not sneaking in drugs or using while you are trying to recover. Most centers approach addiction in a holistic matter and provide classes to help you maintain a healthy balance in recovery long after you leave the center.

2. Vicodin detox clinic

Opiate-specific detox centers exist all over the country specifically designed to help you to detox from opioids such as Vicodin. These facilities are designed to address the physical aspects of withdrawal. Here, you’re monitored by professionals that make sure everything goes well as you stop taking Vicodin and go through withdrawal. Sometimes these clinics are the first stop in recovery, as they provide prescription medications and support for continuation.

3. Clinical psychologist and psychiatrists

Thankfully, there are thousands of mental health professionals out there who specialize in behavioral treatments for Vicodin addiction. Both psychologists and psychiatrists help to treat the psychological underpinning of addiction. Talk therapy can help you pinpoint the root cause of why you may be abusing prescription drugs and tools to help maintain Vicodin abstinence. While psychiatrists can help prescribe needed, medications they can also diagnose potential underlying mental conditions that may be plaguing you.

4. Vicodin addiction support groups

Support groups are a network of people with different ideas of how to succeed in addiction recovery. Twelve step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous are a good place to start if you are thinking of looking for a support group during recovery from Vicodin addiction. But there are support groups everywhere. Some are provided by the community, spiritual communities, and medical facilities. Some such as SMART Recovery, Rational Recovery, or S.O.S Secular Organizations for Sobriety are alternative groups that give you the communal support to stay Vicodin free. You can always fall back on on a support group or friends you make there during periods when your recovery is being threatened. If you are having a hard time finding a group call 1-800-662-help. It is a good place to start if you are overwhelmed in you search to find a support group.

5. Licensed clinical social workers

Licensed clinical social workers are trained in psychotherapy and many work specifically with cases of substance abuse. Social workers help people with a variety of mental illness and psychological upsets that contribute to and/or are caused by Vicodin addiction. Social workers can help people access jobs and cope with life on a day to day basis while maintaining a Vicodin free environment. They are another contact available who want to help you maintain your recovery from the use of Vicodin.

6. Your physician

Since it is possibe that your doctor originally prescribed you a Vicodin prescription, they can help you first taper your dosage to prepare for withdrawal and then find refer you to addiction treatment resources. They can also help monitor your medications and/or refer you to psychiatric help.

7. A trusted religious or spiritual leader

Having a community in which to belong improves long term success of addiction recovery. Many times, spiritual and religious communities provide their own groups of support and therapy options for members. If there is someone that you trust and feel comfortable taking to in your community, seek them out. It is important to have people who believe in your recovery and to whom you can go for support beside your immediate friends or family.

How to treat Vicodin addiction questions

Do you still have questions about treating Vicodin addiction? Please share your questions and experiences with treating Vicodin addiction here. Or ask us about it. We’ll try to respond to your questions personally and promptly.

References Sources: NIDA: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment
Washington Attorney General: Prescription Drug Abuse
National Institute of Drug Abuse: Important Treatment Advances in Opiate Addiction
National Institute of Drug Abuse: Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment

Photo credit: Horia Varlan+

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “How to treat Vicodin addiction
kaykay
9:30 pm February 18th, 2013

how do you deal with a Vicodin addict if they’re already acting all wierd and your alone with them?

2:06 pm February 19th, 2013

Hi kaykay. You ask a good question. Vicodin users who are using and are addicted can be very averse to changing their lifestyle. You can first consult the national drug abuse hotline at 1-800-662-HELP and ask for help finding treatment. You can also seek out a social worker in your area who can help you. Also, check with the state attorney general’s office and see if there are laws which can protect you and require that the addict get into treatment. Make some phone calls and start to learn more about your local and state resources.

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