Vicodin is a trademarked brand name for a narcotic prescription medication that is approved for physician-supervised treatment of moderate to severe pain. In addition to easing pain, Vicodin also imparts a sense of serenity and euphoria in those who take the drug – effects that make the drug a popular choice for illicit recreational use, and which increase the risk that the drug will be abused.
The primary active ingredient in Vicodin is hydrocodone. In the United States, pure hydrocodone is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II drugs have been determined by the U.S. government to meet the following qualifications:
- A high potential for abuse.
- A currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
- A risk that abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence
However, because Vicodin is not pure hydrocodone (it also contains acetaminophen, the primary active ingredient in the popular over-the-counter painkiller Tylenol), Vicodin falls under the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Schedule III. Schedule III means the following:
- The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
- The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
- Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence
Vicodin addiction may result from the illicit recreational abuse of Vicodin, or from prescription use that morphs into abuse due to a psychological dependence upon the pain relief that the drug initially provided.
Statistics show that Vicodin use has increased by as much as 400 percent within a recent 10-year period in the United States, with Vicodin-related emergency room visits rising fivefold during the same period.
Many drug abuse and addiction experts believe that dependence or addiction to Vicodin can occur as quickly as within one week of exposure to high levels of Vicodin.
Adolescents, teenagers and adults (boys and girls, men and women) are all at risk for Vicodin abuse and addiction – and individuals within each of these age group populations have been enticed by the relative ease of acquiring Vicodin and lured by the euphoric effects that are commonly associated with Vicodin use.
Symptoms of Vicodin overdose include slow breathing, cold and clammy skin, dizziness, weakness, unconsciousness, mental confusion, constricted pupils, extreme tiredness, nausea, vomiting and diaphoresis, and coma. Vicodin overdose can be fatal.
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