Vicodin goes by many names on the street like vikes, hydros, lorris, and Norco. It’s one of the most widely prescribed painkillers and significantly abused opiates on the planet. Being part of the group hydrocodone, it’s said the United States uses 99% of the world’s hydrocodone. With a statistic like that, it’s no surprise opiate abuse is in the epidemic stage. Hydrocodone and its various brand names like Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, and Zohydro became popularized by many celebrities, including Eminem, who frequently talked about abusing prescription painkillers in his music. The comical abuse of these drugs tells unknown users these drugs are a way to “feel no pain,” when the pain is too much to handle. Families have made it acceptable to take these prescription pills on doctor’s orders and sometimes with the occasional glass of wine to enhance the euphoria. The casual nature of the drug inside and outside of doctor’s offices is the major issue that leads people into confusion when their loved one “suddenly” develops an addiction to the Vicodin drug. It’s all fun and games until the addiction turns into opioid withdrawal symptoms similar to a heroin addict in the 1990s movie, Trainspotting.
My Vicodin Addiction Story
The first time I tried the Vicodin drug was in high school. I got my wisdom teeth out and my oral surgeon prescribed it to me for the pain. My friends’ ears perked up when I told them my doctor is going to take my wisdom teeth out. They said if I had any extra ‘vikes’ or didn’t need them, they would buy them from me. After hearing this, I definitely didn’t sell them. They told me to combine Vicodin and alcohol with marijuana would magnify the high and make it last longer. Considering my current addiction to both alcohol and marijuana, I figured why not try all three? After the wisdom teeth came out on Friday, I felt pretty out of it that night and slept in the next day. I took another Vicodin the next day to get over the excruciating pain of the surgery. When Monday came around, I lied to my friends and said the doctor didn’t give me any. They told me they wanted to crush it up and roll it into a joint with some marijuana after school. To me, that sounded like a great way to spend the day, so I went home grabbed a pill and surprised my friends when we met up.
Addicts Are All Liars
My friend’s mom was at work and wouldn’t be home until 6 pm. I had my own car so getting around wasn’t a problem, and I told my parents I was at my friend’s house like I always was. My grades were always good so they didn’t mind, and as long as I didn’t smell like smoke they wouldn’t be the wiser. After we smoked the joint with the crushed up Vicodin on it, I felt like I was higher than ever. My friends and I smoked a cigarette and then went back inside to watch a movie and play some videos games. After one hit of the joint, I hit cloud 9. All the stress of the day went away, and I felt weightless on my friend’s couch for over an hour. I was instantly hooked. When the next weekend came around, it was “on.” I still had a few of those ‘idiot pills’ left and took one before I went to a party. They had a keg and bunch of dealers with pot. That night I truly embodied the street name, because I became a complete idiot in a matter of an hour after mixing the Vicodin with alcohol and marijuana. I didn’t care about what other people thought about me, so I just went about my business quite belligerently. Hence, my painkiller addiction began. That was the first of my many experiences with hydrocodone and the beginning of my Vicodin dependence. After that, I went on a search for more painkillers and took them any chance I got. Dealers knew I was addicted to hydrocodone, so they intentionally raised the price whenever I came around. Eventually, after therapy and pain pill recovery I realized how deep of a problem I had. The Vicodin withdrawal symptoms were horrendous, and I relapsed many times while trying to kick my habit. It took me over 3 years to fully recover from my hydrocodone addiction.
The Most Popular Ways to Abuse
Part of the problem with Vicodin abuse is the casual attitude many doctors and patients have toward prescription painkillers. I’ve personally seen parents talk candidly about using these very potent drugs while at dinner like there was nothing wrong with it. What are the most common ways people abuse Vicodin? It’s so powerful in pill form there isn’t any reason to take it any other way. Due to the fast acting pain relief, many people become addicted to it quickly. Also, it’s the allure of being undetected. It’s more difficult for family members, co-workers, and friends to know you’re on it unless you are acting differently. Marijuana has a distinct smell that almost anyone can distinguish. Alcohol severely impairs and is also very detectable, while Vicodin drug prescriptions are easily kept secret as long as the user doesn’t run out. The most common way to abuse Vicodin drugs is to combine them with other substances. A few beers, a joint, and with the norco drug were known as a “killer cocktail” back in my day. I’m sure this is not out of style these days either.
Development of a Vicodin Dependence
Every abuser approaches their Vicodin addiction differently. It’s too irresponsible to say exactly how someone will act, but many people share common traits. They become irritable, dismissive, unresponsive, etc. In my experience, I became quiet which made it nearly impossible to tell I was under-the-influence of pain pills. How long does it take you to get addicted to Vicodin drugs? Sometimes it’s instantaneous. Unfortunately, it all depends on you and your tolerance and mental strength to know you’re addicted to hydrocodone and what to do next. Addiction hijacks your brain and can take control of almost everything you do. The behavior is also very dependent on the situation. This is why creating strong communication channels are imperative to notice slight differences. Spotting a significant change is easy but what about the small behavior changes of a loved one. How to handle a loved one that is an addict is never an easy situation, but necessary to help them avoid addiction. Another huge sign of dependence is seeing Vicodin withdrawal symptoms. The effect of hydrocodone is typical of the flu, but when the user uses high dosages the side effects can be much more severe. It’s not uncommon to see hallucinations or experience extreme pain for sometimes 48 hours.
Know Your Dosages
When prescribed, Vicodin dosages come in three varieties. They follow the strength chart below, but the following are the most common.
- ES 7.5mg/300mg
- HP 10mg/300mg
All of these require the patient to take a pill every four to six hours, as needed, without exceeding 6 pills per day. The 5mg pill has a higher limit of 8 times a day due to the lower dosage. Each of these pills is prescribed in either 100 to 500 pill bottles. Even following the directions sometimes leads to a Vicodin withdrawal depending on the person. Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are not at all uncommon even after following the recommended dosage, and that’s why “as needed” is added to the label.
The Rising Overdose Prevalence
The Vicodin addiction and overdose death rate is still increasing at a dramatic rate. According to the CDC, over 200,000 people died from prescription opioids from 1999 to 2016. The really scary fact is there were five times the amounts of overdoses in 2016 as there were in 1999. In 2016, over 64,000 overdoses from hydrocodone related pills were recorded. Overdoses typically occur between the ages of 25 to 64 and 33% more prevalent among men than women in 2016. In places like Colorado, opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled since 2002. With a very low tolerance, an overdose can occur at 1,000 mg if ingested in 1 day. High tolerances can withstand 4,000 mg, but most likely not withstand the liver damage associated with that high of exposure. At 7,000 mg, death is almost inevitable. No tolerance could withstand this high of a dose. If you or a loved one is experiencing trouble breathing, dark urine, yellowing eyes and skin, you may be in the early stages of an overdose. Unfortunately, the long-term effects of Vicodin dependence are not fully known, because of the variety of variables. Even with responsible use over time, you can expect to develop liver damage and abnormal brain activity. The user should do whatever they can to get away from long-term usage by dealing the root cause of the pain they are experiencing. Why subject yourself to the possibility of developing a tolerance to hydrocodone if it’s not necessary.
Here’s What to Expect on a Taper Protocol
Unfortunately, there are many Vicodin tapering and painkiller recovery stories that don’t end well. The trauma your body and mind go through when abusing any form of hydrocodone is substantial. This is why abiding by the rules of a Norco dosage and using it “as needed” is vital to remain in control during the life of your prescription. Even with perfect tapering, common withdrawal symptoms are sometimes unavoidable. Creating a Vicodin withdrawal timeline is very difficult because it’s different for everyone. .Insomnia, anxiety, and depression can last indefinitely after prolonged usage. In more severe states, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, and sore and aching muscles are the body’s way of flushing out the toxins of the drug. If you can avoid relapsing, slowly tapering off of the Vicodin addiction is always best. However, creating the right environment may be difficult. This is when professional help is something you should consult, because the degree of discipline required may be overwhelming to successfully maneuver the tapering. A typical hydrocodone tapering protocol may include 10mg less each week for the first 40 days and then reducing them by 5 mg decreases after 40 days. When you reach the 10mg to the 5mg range without any pain or discomfort you know that you’re close to your goal. Continue to taper to an every other day schedule and until the effects are nonexistent. Proper diet and light exercise need to be part of every tapering protocol. This aids the body in flushing out the toxins and restoring a positive routine. Consult your doctor for correct nutrition plans and exercise routines. Typically the intensity of the exercise program will increase as the dosage decreases.
The Future of Vicodin Addiction
Given my experience with a Vicodin addiction and the opiate craze in the United States, it’s clear we need some reform. The doctors who overprescribe the drug are at fault, but we can only blame ourselves for not facing our demons. Knowing you have Vicodin dependence and not taking action is more of an epidemic than opiates will ever be. The resources are available, so spend time talking to your loved ones if they have a problem. People sometimes need a little nudge to get back on the right track. It’s always difficult to be that person, but very necessary sometimes. In America, Marijuana, Adderall, and even Vicodin abuse have comical connotations these days. On the contrary, a drug like Methamphetamines or Heroin has a bad rep because they are illegal and not prescribed. They are dangerous but come from the same sources as the ‘smart drug’ Adderall and hydrocodone. Click the link for more information on helping your loved ones with their addiction and treatment for opium and related drugs.