Opioid Abuse – How is Vicodin Abused?
Opioids such as Vicodin are behind much of the surge in opioid abuse in recent years. In 2015, over 2 million cases of opioid dependence surfaced and a further 20,101 deaths directly related to Vicodin and other opioid abuse. The amount of people that have become addicted to opioids has spurred an increase in public information about the dangers of substance abuse.
How is Vicodin abused and what are the long term effects of Vicodin abuse?
What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is one of the most commonly prescribed opioids in America. It has two main ingredients: hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is given to people with severe pain such as after surgery or from chronic pain such as back pain. As a pain medication, it is highly effective due to the hydrocodone – an opioid similar in effect to heroin or morphine.
How is Vicodin Abused?
To answer the question “how is Vicodin abused?” one needs to look at the ways people use the drug in ways that are not prescribed. A simple way to tell if a person is abusing Vicodin is to look at what their intentions for taking the drug are. Is their intention to get the euphoric feeling brought on by the drug? This can show abuse rather than using a medication for its intended purposes.
How is Vicodin abused by an average person? When a person crushes, chews, cuts or dissolves the drug it changes its chemistry. The different ways of taking Vicodin other than swallowing the pill orally can change the way it affects a person’s body. Many people do so willingly in order to have an increased effect, and are therefore abusing the drug.
A common way that people abuse Vicodin is to crush the pill into a powder and then snort it. The concentrated amounts of the drug that instantly reach your brain can be dangerous. Mixing Vicodin with other substances such as alcohol is common, but it also increases the chance of dangerous side effects including overdose as they are both CNS depressants.
Long Term Effects of Vicodin Abuse
There are several long term effects of Vicodin abuse to be aware of. One of the most severe is liver damage. The acetaminophen found in Vicodin at higher doses can cause liver damage. Depending on the method of delivery, a person snorting the drug can have nasal problems and lose their sense of smell. Injecting the drug has many of the same side effects of heroin, such as infections and scarring.
Of course, as with other opioids, Vicodin leads to dependence if abuse continues. The addiction that forms can be so severe that only through professional help can it be resolved.
Vicodin Effects on the Brain
The Vicodin effects on the brain in the long term can lead to several problems. Because of how it constantly effects the reward and pain centers of the brain, eventually the person experiences a rebound of their pain sensitivity when abuse stops, making them experience greater levels of pain than they should. Mood changes can occur due to the changes that take place in the person’s brain structure, leading to irritability, agitation and long-term depression.
A person may begin to find that they have poor stress management skills once they stop abusing opioids. This causes increased amounts of anxiety too. A person’s memory can also become foggy causing their memory consolidation to be hindered, often leading to confusion.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.