Hydrocodone Dependence

Hydrocodone, such as what is found in Vicodin®, Hycet®, Lortab®, Anexsia®, Stagesic®, Lorcet®, Liquicet®, Maxidone®

Vicodin® and other products with hydrocodone are among the most popularly abused prescription drugs. In one study, Vicodin® alone accounted for 53% of all the new admissions into drug treatment centers in the United States.

Hydrocodone is a narcotic painkiller found in combination with other drugs, usually acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®), or antihistamines. While hydrocodone can cause feelings of joy and euphoria, it is not safe to use on a regular basis. It is extremely addictive, and side effects can include permanent liver and kidney damage, skin rashes, chest pain, nausea, flu symptoms, and difficulty breathing.

Most people who abuse Vicodin® and other hydrocodone products cannot quit on their own, especially if they have been using for a long time or using in large amounts.  Withdrawal is not pleasant and can, in rare cases, cause sudden death or coma if the person tries to quit without professional help. Even if the person manages to get through physical withdrawal, it can be very hard to overcome the psychological dependency upon this drug. Hydrocodone allows people to disengage from everyday life and to live in a kind of pain-free state of bliss. They usually need help coming back to normal life with goals, responsibilities, and healthy relationships with others.

If you are dependent upon Vicodin® or some other hydrocodone combination, your first step is to call. A counselor will be familiar with a variety of programs near your home that can suit your needs and budget. Depending upon how long and how deep your dependency is, you may have to seek residential treatment for a few months and then attend meetings and counseling sessions on an outpatient basis for a year or so.

Teenagers often benefit from therapeutic boarding schools or wilderness programs especially designed for their needs. If you are the custodial parent of a child addicted to Vicodin®, you have the legal right to place your child into such a program, even without his consent.

Physical withdrawal from hydrocodone drugs is not pleasant, but it only takes a week or so. Most people will experience anxiety, be unable to sleep, and feel exhausted. There may be sweats, abdominal pain, seizures, vomiting, and headaches. But medical interventions at your treatment center can help you get through it.

Once you are free of all drugs, you usually have to remain in counseling to understand the underlying issues that made you seek out relief in narcotics in the first place. Many people face problems such as depression and anxiety that are rooted in childhood trauma and abuse, adoption issues, poor communication skills, or even undiagnosed disorders such as bipolar or attention deficit disorder. Whatever your particular situation is, a trained therapist can help you. Sometimes antidepressants and other medications can help, too. You can learn how to find healthy ways of dealing with stress, such as yoga or sports, to replace your dependency on drugs.

Recovery is not usually easy or quickly achieved. The National Institute of Health recommends that you think in terms of at least a year’s time to completely overcome drug abuse problems. Most people who make it through say that it was the most worthwhile year of their lives.