Vicodin Withdrawal – what should I look for? does that mean I’m addicted? what can I do?
I have had a lot of questions regarding Vicodin addiction and withdrawal of late and thought it would be helpful to share the following resources from NIDA to answer common questions. This is not to be construed as medial advice, rather simply a sharing of information because the problems that arise with not using Vicodin – or any prescription medication, for that matter – as prescribed can be life-altering. [Note: in case you're not aware, Vicodin is one of the Opiods, which is why the term Opiods is used throughout the following.]
Explain What Vicodin Is and Why It’s Prescribed
“Opioids [Vicodin] are medications that relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs.” [NIDA What Are Opiods?]
How Does Vicodin Affect the Brain and Body?
“Opioids [Vicodin] act by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in the body. When these drugs attach to their receptors, they reduce the perception of pain.” [NIDA How Do Opiods Affect the Brain and Body?"]
Is Vicodin Addictive?
“Physical dependence is a normal adaptation to chronic exposure to a drug and is not the same as addiction (see textbox, Dependence vs. Addiction).” [NIDA What Are the Possible Consequences of Opiod Use and Abuse?]
What Are Some of the Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms?
“…withdrawal symptoms may occur if drug use is suddenly reduced or stopped. These symptoms can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), and involuntary leg movements.” [NIDA What Are the Possible Consequences of Opiod Use and Abuse?]
What if it is Addiction? How is it Treated?
“Years of research have shown that addiction to any drug (illicit or prescribed) is a brain disease that can be treated effectively. Treatment must take into account the type of drug used and the needs of the individual. Successful treatment may need to incorporate several components, including detoxification, counseling, and sometimes the use of addiction medications. Multiple courses of treatment may be needed for the patient to make a full recovery.” [NIDA Treating Prescription Drug Addiction]
What If I Need It for Chronic Pain?
“To mitigate addiction risk, physicians should screen patients for potential risk factors, including personal or family history of drug abuse or mental illness. Monitoring patients for signs of abuse is also crucial, and yet some indicators can signify multiple conditions, making accurate assessment challenging. Early or frequent requests for prescription pain medication refills, for example, could represent illness progression, the development of drug tolerance, or the emergence of a drug problem.” [NIDA Chronic Pain Treatment and Addiction]
Single Source for Prescription Drug Information
For all of the above information and more, please find NIDA’s PDF, Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction.
For Help With Vicodin Withdrawal
Here are three resources provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
For More Information About Addiction – Whether It’s to Drugs or Alcohol
Visit this website, The Addiction Project, a collaborative work done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and HBO.