As a painkiller, Vicodin has two components that make it work the way it does: acetaminophen, a non-addictive pain analgesic, and hydrocodone, the opiate constituent of the medication. Vicodin treats all kinds of pain, and it is mainly prescribed to individuals who have severe pain resulting from injuries or major surgery. Medical practitioners also prescribe it to people who suffer from chronic pain. As effective as Vicodin is, caution is still required when using this pain killer because it can be addictive. Additionally, the withdrawal symptoms and the side effects of the drug can also be dangerous. It is also harmful to take Vicodin in combination with other substances and medications.
The Dangers of Long-Term Vicodin Use?
One of the dangerous elements of Vicodin is that it is easy for the user’s body to develop a tolerance to it. The longer a user keeps taking Vicodin, the more they will need to get the same euphoric feeling. This contributes to Vicodin users becoming more addicted to Vicodin as time passes. Long-term addiction to Vicodin also has harmful side effects such as depression, liver damage, and severe mood swings. The withdrawal symptoms also pose a severe healthcare threat when a user with a Vicodin abuse problem stops taking the drug.
Vicodin is highly addictive, so even if a doctor prescribes it to a user, there is a risk that they will become dependent on it. There is a higher risk of women developing an addiction given their susceptibility to chronic pain and tendency to be prescribed pain killers as a result. They also tend to be given higher doses of pain medication because of the same and take them for extended periods compared to men.
If a user takes too much Vicodin, it may be lethal. Most people who take Vicodin tend to underestimate its potency and do not know their limits when taking the drug. Most addiction professionals have even compared Heroin addiction to Vicodin dependence.
Dangerous Vicodin Interactions
The Hydrocodone in Vicodin is made from Codeine, an opiate from the Poppy plant. When combined with other drugs, medications, or substances like alcohol, it creates a risk of harmful interactions that may result in sedation, a coma, or even death. For that reason, users are not supposed to take Vicodin with street drugs or alcohol.
Even though various drugs may interact dangerously with Vicodin, those with the highest risk include:
- Medications for nausea or mental illness
- Sleeping pills
- Muscle relaxants
- Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax
If a user takes Vicodin in combination with any of these drugs and stops taking them or alters their dosage, it can result in dangerous levels of Vicodin in the body. Another potential risk of taking Vicodin is that users can overdose on the Acetaminophen component in the drug. Adults are advised only to take a maximum acetaminophen amount of 3000mg daily to prevent liver damage. Taking alcohol while on Vicodin increases the risk of harming one’s liver significantly.
Alcohol and opiate drugs like Vicodin are both depressants of the Central Nervous System, which deals with respiration. Mixing Vicodin with alcohol slows down the CNS such that the brain does not signal the body to breathe, resulting in death. This lethal combination also causes difficulty in respiration, which includes the following symptoms:
- Constricted airways causing wheezing
- Intense sweating resulting in clammy skin
- Discoloration around the fingertips and the mouth
- Heavy breathing
Combining Vicodin with alcohol also causes sleepiness, confusion, and severe sedation. Prolonged use of this mixture can cause long-term liver damage and repeated lung stress.
Dangerous Methods of Vicodin Use
Using Vicodin in any other way than what is prescribed by your doctor is deemed abuse. However, most users frequently abuse Vicodin further by changing its physical state to achieve more intense euphoric effects faster. Vicodin is especially dangerous when the user alters the mode of administration as this distorts the expected results. It also increases the unpredictability of the drug’s effects and the risk of danger to the user. Vicodin comes in tablet form and is meant to be consumed orally for it to be broken down and absorbed by the digestive system so it can start taking effect. The whole process takes about 30 minutes or more for the user to start feeling high. As this happens in the body, the medication’s ingredients distribute throughout the body and to the brain in controlled amounts. Taking Vicodin orally as prescribed somewhat limits the side effects since this route of administration takes longer for the drug to be absorbed. On the other hand, most users crush the Vicodin tablets or dissolve them into a solution to inject, smoke, or snort the drug. This dramatically reduces the period during which the drug gets to the brain, and more of the Vicodin hits the user at once, generating a more intense high. These three methods of abusing Vicodin increase the danger of overdose in the user, particularly injection, as it is the fastest way for the drug to get to the brain. When all that hydrocodone in the drug hits the brain at one go, it critically depresses the user’s central nervous system. This affects the body’s vital functions, such as the respiratory and circulatory systems. Snorting Vicodin does not offer the same euphoric effect as direct injection or smoking at the same rate, but it is more effective and faster than taking the drug orally. When a user snorts Vicodin, the drug will be absorbed directly into the blood via the mucous membranes located in the nose. This avenue to the brain is more direct for the drug; thus, the effects can be drawn out much faster. Injection, smoking, or snorting of Vicodin also make the user develop dependence and tolerance to the drug more quickly.
Even though it is a potent analgesic for individuals recuperating from major surgery or injuries, Vicodin still has numerous dangerous risks when taken erroneously. Its addictive characteristics and the euphoric effects experienced when taking the drug increase the user’s risk of developing an addiction. This is why it is essential to take the doctor’s instruction when taking Vicodin and avoid mixing it with any other medications or substances, alcohol included. Anyone with any concerns about taking Vicodin should speak to their medical practitioner about the same.