ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Doctors prescribe Vicodin as a means of treating moderate to severe pain. But it is extremely addictive. This article explains how to help someone who’s become addicted. Then, we invite your questions at the end.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 7 MINUTES
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- What’s Addiction?
- Dependence or Addiction
- Intervention Help
- Detox Help
- Treatment Help
- How Many People?
- Referrals to Help
- How to Support a Friend
- Your Questions
What Addiction Really Is
Vicodin affects opioid receptors in the brain. It particularly affects areas of the brain responsible for creating positive emotions, such as pleasure, satisfaction, and well-being. This is what causes the euphoria people feel when high on Vicodin.
But why can’t some people quit?
Vicodin can interrupt normal function of the brain. Over time, both the brain and body begin to adapt to the drug’s main chemical – hydrocodone – as normal. In turn, the brain and body speed up some processes to counterbalance the depressant effects of the drug, a state known as homeostasis. Take away the drug, and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms occur.
Someone addicted to Vicodin relies on Vicodin as a means of feeling “normal”. And people can’t quit due to physical and psychological depedence. But what’s the difference between dependence and addiction?
Dependence or Addiction?
To put it simply:
A drug dependence is when the body and brain have adapted to Vicodin’s as a survival function. Tolerance can develop, which means that original therapeutic doses are no longer effective. So, some people increase dosing amounts or frequency.
An addiction is compulsive use to the point of bringing harmful consequences upon self and others. People who struggle with a Vicodin addiction have the inability to stop even when negative effects are present
To assess possible risk of addiction, ask your affected loved one the following questions.
- Are your responsibilities at school, work, family at risk due to your Vicodin use?
- Do you take Vicodin despite it causing problem in your relationships?
- Do you find yourself craving to use Vicodin?
- Do you find yourself in risky behavior due to the fact that you use Vicodin?
- Do you spend a large amount of time thinking about, obtaining, or using Vicodin?
- Have you ever tried to quit Vicodin without success?
If your loved one answers yes to one or more of the above questions, there’s a solid chance they’re facing a Vicodin addiction. Since Vicodin is an opioid drug, this could lead to the use of harder opioid drugs, such as heroin.
Helping Address Denial
It’s not expected that you’ll know all the ins and outs of drug addiction. In fact, before you address denial, it’s important you seek professional guidance – preferably, from a licensed clinical psychologist or counselor who has experience in addiction. This is important as it will teach you what you don’t know about addiction. With better knowledge, you’ll have more of the ability to help.
Getting help for yourself can teach you how to:
- Bring up conversations about recovery at the right time.
- Set boundaries.
- Stay safe around a person struggling with addiction.
- Understand addiction as a brain disorder.
- Understand addiction as a family issue.
Your goal is to get your loved one to want to stop using Vicodin. Without this desire, there’s little you can do in order to help. Your first step should be to seek out medical help.
It’s hard to achieve long-term sobriety and avoid Vicodin relapse without the professional help of a reputable treatment program. Clinicians and scientists have developed a variety of effective treatments which aim to help those struggling how to re-learn how to live life without taking drugs.
Carefully choose who will attend.
As mentioned, people who handle a Vicodin addiction will most likely feel a sense of shame. It can be assumed you’re walking on fragile ice when trying to get a group of people together to have an open discussion about the topic. Keep in mind how sensitive this issue is and be keen on who’s present.
Get advice before you begin.
We’ve discussed the importance of seeking out professional guidance before holding your intervention. Your ultimate goal is to successfully get the person struggling into treatment. Minding the fact that this is a sensitive topic, you won’t want to make any wrong moves. You’ll want to be informed of important points to cover as well as how to handle the emotional side of your loved one’s addiction.
Plan communication in advance.
As we continuously mention, those who struggle with a drug addiction are very vulnerable individuals. You want to know what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. You want to reach out and offer the comfort they feel they don’t have. Plan the communication in order to nail these points.
Prepare for anything.
Even with a professional on your side, you have no way of understanding how the person struggling with addiction will react. Some will understand while others will retaliate. It’s best to prepare for anything.
Though this isn’t the case for every family struggling with addiction, there are often instances where members are feeding an individual’s addiction. For example, you might be giving your loved one money which they, in turn, use to purchase drugs. Or you might offer them a place to stay which makes them comfortable enough to continue drug use and not worry of responsibility. It’s important your loved one understands these privileges will be in consequence if drug use continues.
Provide a solution.
Your goal is for the intervention to go well and for your loved one to take the first steps towards sobriety. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to provide options for them to get better. This should include rehab.
The intervention is only the first step towards recovery. Make sure you follow through with your loved one and help them on the path towards sobriety. Stick to your consequences. And make a commitment to getting help for yourself. Enter family counseling, individual therapy, or make resolution for self-care. Whatever the plan, follow through.
Help During Detox
Your loved one can expect to experience Vicodin withdrawal starting 4-6 hours after their last dose. The acute symptoms will then peak between 24-72 hours. Withdrawals affect everyone differently. Therefore, the only way to know what your loved one will experience is by going to a medical professional. The most common Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are:
- Abdominal cramps
- Restless leg
- Sleep disturbances
Though withdrawal isn’t fatal, it remains dangerous. Excessive loss of liquids through diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration and a lack of appetite. Without the proper care, this can damage health. You also risk relapse if you try to treat Vicodin detox at home.
In your position, it’s important to make sure your loved one receives the proper care s/he needs. Furthermore, a detox center will have the capability of easing withdrawal symptoms to make them less intense. As your loved one goes through this, offer your support as this is one of the most difficult periods of sobriety.
Help During Treatment
Generally, this part of treatment lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 months. However, time spent in rehab can be higher depending on the level of addiction and severity of other mental health issues. While your loved one undergoes treatment, there are a variety of things you can do to make sure he/she makes the best out of it:
- Always be there when things get difficult.
- Be present at family therapy session.
- Promote healthy and natural remedies to deal with cravings and emotions.
- Send letters and cards with encouraging wishes.
How Many People Struggle?
- In 2009, 16 million Americans 12 and older used Vicodin for non-medical purposes.
- In 2010, 6% of those 18 and under had abused the drug.
- Vicodin addiction costs the country more than $484 billion annually.
- 99% of Vicodin consumed is done so in the United States.
Referrals to Help (Where to Find Help)
- Calling us to learn about addiction treatment
- Addiction doctors listed on the ABAM website
- Psychologists or counselors via the APA website
- Psychiatrists listed on the find an ABA psychiatrist near you website
- Social Workers via your state’s Department of Health and Social Services
- SAMHSA’s National Hotline 1-800-622-HELP
- Your family physician
How to Support a Friend
- Going to NA meetings or other therapies with your friend
- Offering new hobbies as a means of distraction
- Socializing in drug free atmospheres
Furthermore, people who have been addicted to Vicodin may have mental health issues after their addiction. You’ll want to help them cope with these emotions and find a means of relieving them without medication. Your support can make a huge difference.