19th May, 2024

Vicodin Addiction

Overview, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

prescription drug abuse

Vicodin is a powerful and dangerous opiate that must be taken with great care to avoid addiction.

Vicodin is the brand name for the product that combines acetaminophen and hydrocodone. The addictive property in Vicodin is hydrocodone, which causes many individuals who are addicted to Vicodin to abuse other drugs that contain hydrocodone as well. While Vicodin is the most commonly abused hydrocodone-based drug, hydrocodone itself “is the most frequently prescribed opioid in the United States and is associated with more drug abuse and diversion than any other licit or illicit opioid” (DEA).

Vicodin addiction, like addictions to all other types of opioid drugs, calls for treatment, usually in a formal setting and involving both medication and therapy. When someone seems like they might be addicted to Vicodin, remember to look for the signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction in order to be sure.


According to the NIDA, “Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana (and alcohol), the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older.” This is devastating, but by and large, Viocodin is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs available. It falls only below Adderall as the most abused brand name prescription drug, according to the past-year use of various drugs by 12th graders. While Adderall sits at 6.8%, Vicodin is right behind at 4.8%, higher than OxyContin, Ritalin, and many illicit drugs like hallucinogens, ecstasy, and cocaine.

Why is Vicodin so commonly abused? For one thing, it is highly available to teens and adults who may want to abuse it. Because hydrocodone is so commonly prescribed and Vicodin is the most popular hydrocodone-based prescription, it can be found almost anywhere from someone’s medicine cabinet to illegal purchase on the street to the Internet.

This common abuse of a dangerous drug easily leads to addiction for many individuals, causing the high amount of Vicodin addiction which is directly related to the amount of Vicodin abuse.

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Vicodin Addiction Signs

The signs of Vicodin addiction are similar to the other signs caused by most types of long-term opioid abuse. Vicodin addiction is dangerous and can cause respiratory depression when a person takes the drug in high doses. If this ever happens to someone who is abusing Vicodin, it is likely that they are addicted to the drug and need to receive treatment for this addiction after their immediate issues are solved. If someone experiences a life-threatening condition of respiratory depression as a result of Vicodin abuse and refuses to stop taking the drug, the likelihood of their addiction is even stronger.

Some of the other signs that someone is addicted to Vicodin are:

  • Constant dry mouth
  • Constant nausea, vomiting, and constipation
  • Constant drowsiness or dizziness which will be obvious when the person is intoxicated
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy toward important aspects of their lives which used to matter to them (including school, work, family, friends, etc.)
  • A change in their friendships to the point where they now only spend time with other individuals who abuse Vicodin
  • Hostility or aggression toward those who comment on their Vicodin abuse
  • “Narrowing of the pupils (black circles in the center of the eyes)” (NLM)
    • Again, this is a sign of intoxication from opioids so it will be almost constant if the individual is addicted. When someone overdoses on Vicodin or other opioid-based medications, doctors check for extremely small pupils (often called pinpoint pupils) to decide whether or not it is actually opioid overdose.
  • “Abnormally happy or abnormally sad mood”
  • Hiding prescriptions for Vicodin from others or bottles of Vicodin in places they don’t believe others will look
  • Doing dangerous things in order to obtain more Vicodin including:
    • Creating “altered or fraudulent prescriptions” or “doctor-shopping” (DEA)
      • These are behaviors where an individual might try to create a prescription that was not given to them by a doctor to get more Vicodin or where someone will go to many different doctors, complaining of pain in order to get more Vicodin
    • Buying Vicodin illegally either from a person or online
    • Stealing Vicodin from friends’ houses, doctor’s offices, etc.

When someone begins behaving this way or constantly shows the signs of opioid abuse, it is likely that they are already addicted to Vicodin. When you confront this person, it may be best to stay calm as they will likely get upset that you are pointing out their abuse of the drug. In many cases, they will refuse to stop abusing Vicodin or they will agree to stop but will wind up not doing so. These are the definitive signs of addiction.

Also Vicodin contains acetaminophen which, in high doses, can cause liver problems, jaundice, and, in the case of Vicodin overdose, vomiting, sweating, convulsions, and diarrhea. According to the DOJ, “Hydrocodone is generally abused orally, often in

combination with alcohol” which is extremely dangerous and can even more easily lead to overdose and deadly respiratory depression.

Vicodin Addiction Symptoms

If you are a frequent Vicodin abuser, it is important to understand the symptoms of Vicodin addiction and the questions only you can answer. Ask yourself whether or not you experience the symptoms below and then decide if you might need treatment for a Vicodin addiction.

  • Do you abuse Vicodin daily, to the point where it has become a habit for you?
  • Are you uncomfortable or do not feel like yourself unless you have taken Vicodin?
  • Do you take any kind of hydrocodone-based drug or opioid-based drug when Vicodin is not available to you?
  • Do you need Vicodin just to get out of bed in the morning or to fall asleep?
  • Does your happiness, mood, comfort level, etc. all hinge on whether or not you are able to take Vicodin?
  • Do other people notice this, and have they expressed that they are upset by it?
  • Do you not feel in control of your Vicodin abuse?
  • Do you only want to spend time taking Vicodin or with other people who take drugs?
  • Have you noticed your work beginning to suffer as a result of your frequent Vicodin abuse?
  • Are your relationships beginning to suffer as a result of your frequent Vicodin abuse?
  • Do you engage in risky behaviors in order to get more Vicodin?
  • Have you ever been arrested, prosecuted, or otherwise legally or professionally reprimanded for your Vicodin abuse or other activities you have been involved in in order to obtain more Vicodin?
  • Despite these problems, do you still continue to abuse Vicodin and do you believe that you will continue to do so because
    • You refuse to stop or do not want to stop?
    • You feel as if you are unable to stop?

If you answered yes to these questions, you are experiencing addiction to the hydrocodone in Vicodin. You may, at this point, feel unable to stop abusing Vicodin and that your abuse of the drug has become involuntary. This is why Vicodin addiction treatment is necessary in the face of this issue.

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