Vicodin Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & When To Get Help

Vicodin is an opioid-based prescription pain medication that is a combination of both hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is not a substance that is addictive, however, when it is blended with hydrocodone, it becomes more potent, making it more addictive to those who abuse it.

Understanding Vicodin Addiction

Learn about Vicodin addiction

Vicodin is incredibly beneficial to those who battle with moderate to severe chronic or acute physical pain. Working as a central nervous system depressant, Vicodin is capable of numbing an individual’s ability to experience pain while also stimulating the onset of feelings of relaxation, contentment, and wellbeing. In many cases, it can also lead one to feel removed from his or her surroundings. It is because of these effects that many individuals find that they begin abusing this medication outside of the prescribed guidelines by consuming more at one time or using it more often. In addition, those who are not prescribed Vicodin can be intrigued by these effects, which can cause them to seek it out by any means necessary. Unfortunately, regardless of why an individual starts to abuse Vicodin, the act of doing so can cause tolerance and addiction to develop rapidly. As soon as one has begun abusing this substance in a manner that impacts their overall functionality, it is likely that a Vicodin use disorder has developed.


Vicodin addiction statistics

Vicodin is one of the most commonly prescribed painkillers in the United States, with approximately 139 million prescriptions written for this medication in 2010 alone, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The frequency at which Vicodin is distributed directly relates to the prevalence of its abuse in individuals of all different ages, which has increased four-fold over the past decade.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Vicodin addiction

Below are some of the most common causes and risk factors that can add to the onset of Vicodin use disorder:

Genetic: Hereditary influences can play a significant role in determining one’s likelihood of developing Vicodin use disorder. When an individual has a past family history of opioid abuse and/or addiction, he or she is more likely to develop similar substance abuse-related struggles than those who do not have this background. In addition, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that certain traits, including novelty seeking and impulsivity, are genetic and can play a role in the development of this disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Suffering from a condition that warrants the prescribing of Vicodin
  • Family history of Vicodin abuse or addiction
  • Having a novelty-seeking personality
  • Having an impulsive temperament
  • Personal history of abusing other substances
  • Family history of other types of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Being in an environment where Vicodin or other substances are used
  • Having easy access to obtaining Vicodin

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction

When a Vicodin abuse problem is occurring, the symptoms that one will display will vary. Many of the signs and symptoms that one might show when battling Vicodin use disorder can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Compulsive, prolonged use of Vicodin, despite attempts to stop
  • No longer engaging in activities or hobbies that were once considered important or significant
  • Visiting multiple doctors so that multiple Vicodin prescriptions can be obtained
  • Slurred speech
  • No longer taking care of responsibilities at home
  • No longer spending time with friends and family members
  • No longer performing to the expected standard at work
  • Frequent absences from work
  • Using Vicodin in dangerous situations, such as driving while high

Physical symptoms:

  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Attention difficulties
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Overwhelming cravings for Vicodin
  • Memory disturbances
  • Impaired judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • No longer finding interest in things once interested in
  • Depression
  • Dysregulation of mood
  • Feelings of euphoria followed by a state of apathy


Effects of Vicodin addiction

Continuing to abuse Vicodin can cause individuals to become vulnerable to developing many different negative effects within all areas of their lives. Some of these effects can include:

  • Anoxia, or suffering from an oxygen deficiency in the body’s tissues
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Decreased gastrointestinal activity
  • Destroyed marriages or partnerships
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Decline in occupational performance, possibly resulting in demotion, job loss, or chronic unemployment
  • Financial turmoil
  • Liver damage
  • Dry nose and mouth
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • Impaired visual acuity
  • Onset of new, or worsening of current, mental illness symptoms

Fortunately, there is treatment available for those who seek it, and it is possible to end one’s addiction to Vicodin once and for all.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Vicodin addiction and co-occurring disorders

Those who struggle with the compulsion to abuse opioids like Vicodin might be at increased risk for battling symptoms associated with other mental health conditions at the same time. Some of these disorders can include the following:

  • Stimulant use disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Tobacco use disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Withdrawal and Overdose

Vicodin withdrawal and overdose

Effects of Vicodin withdrawal: When an individual suddenly ends his or her Vicodin abuse, he or she will likely suffer painful symptoms of withdrawal. Vicodin withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and can include symptoms such as:

  • Dysphoric mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Chronic flowing of tears
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aching
  • Nausea

Effects of Vicodin overdose: Consuming more Vicodin than one’s body can handle will cause an overdose. This substance often causes individuals to continually increase the amount they are consuming in order to obtain the desired effects. The more that an individual consumes Vicodin, the more likely an overdose becomes. If an overdose occurs, immediate medical treatment should be obtained to prevent a fatal outcome. Signs of a Vicodin overdose can include:

  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Alterations in speech patterns
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Labored breathing
  • Seizures
What our clients are saying

After going through the residential treatment program at Huntington Creek (which is one of the best treatment options in the area) I was able to recover from my Vicodin addiction.

– Former Patient
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