The Dangers Of Snorting Vicodin (Hydrocodone) Addiction

Hydrocodone Misuse and AddictionHydrocodone is a prescription painkiller that belongs to the opioid family of drugs and medications. It serves as the primary ingredient in products such as Vicodin, Hysingla, Lorcet, Zohydro ER and Lortab. Hydrocodone has proven usefulness as a treatment for severe, prolonged pain. Unfortunately, its status as a powerful opioid also makes it a frequent target for diversion and misuse.

In the U.S., more than 11 million people consume hydrocodone or another prescription opioid in inappropriate ways. This is significant because all opioid medications have the ability to produce dependence and addiction when used in excessive amounts. Today, nearly two million Americans have an opioid use disorder caused by problems with hydrocodone or a similar painkiller.

Have you begun a pattern of prescription painkiller misuse? Are you concerned that you might have symptoms of opioid use disorder? You can address these serious issues with evidence-based treatment in a substance program equipped to address the effects of hydrocodone addiction.

What Does Hydrocodone Do?

When an opioid like hydrocodone enters your bloodstream, it gains access to sites in your nervous system that normally serve as access points for your own natural painkillers. After gaining this access, the medication travels to your brain, where it does three basic things. First, it produces an overall reduction in the amount of communication between individual cells. In turn, this reduction in signaling makes your lungs and circulatory system run at a slower pace. The presence of hydrocodone also masks severe pain by changing the way your brain processes incoming pain messages.

Inside a brain area called the pleasure center, the medication has a third effect: increasing the general level of a key chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is the engine that drives your ability to feel pleasurable sensations. When levels of this chemical rise past a certain point, you will feel the intense sensations of euphoria. If you try to recreate this euphoric sensation by taking frequent and/or large doses of hydrocodone, you can trigger a situation in which your brain begins to treat exaggerated pleasure as its normal environment. Once this happens, you face an extreme risk for an escalating pattern of use marked by the classic symptoms of addiction.

In the 21st century, America is in the midst of a widespread opioid epidemic. Substances most commonly associated with this public health emergency include heroin, the potent synthetic painkiller fentanyl and an oxycodone-based medication called OxyContin. However, misuse of hydrocodone-containing products also makes a significant contribution to the current plague of dysfunction, overdose and death.

Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction

If you suspect that you or someone you know has a problem with hydrocodone, you can look for certain key indicators. A major warning sign in people who hold legitimate prescriptions is consumption of the medication in higher doses or at a more frequent rate than instructed by a doctor. The same risk applies to anyone who takes hydrocodone without a doctor’s approval. In addition, people who misuse the medication can experience physical and mental changes common to all forms of excessive opioid intake, including:

  • Unusual feelings of depression or irritability
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Unexplained periods of anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Rapid changes in mood
  • Confused or disjointed thinking
  • Breathing difficulties

If people with hydrocodone problems stop using the medication, they can experience symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The same fact holds true for people who quickly decrease their intake. Early stages of hydrocodone withdrawal lead to symptoms such as insomnia, muscle aches, heavy sweating and an agitated or anxious mental state. Later-stage symptoms include stomach or abdominal cramping, dilated pupils, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Potential Consequences of Hydrocodone Misuse and Addiction

Like all opioids, hydrocodone can overwhelm your normal brain/body function and trigger an overdose when consumed in excessive amounts. Indicators of an overdose in progress include things such as:

  • Fingernails or lips that turn blue
  • Abnormally pale skin
  • Clammy skin
  • Loss of muscle tone and function
  • An inability to wake after falling unconscious
  • Extremely slowed breathing
  • Total breathing shutdown

These symptoms can lead to fatal results if not treated as a medical emergency. Hydrocodone overdose and other forms of opioid poisoning now rank as America’s number one source of drug/medication-related death 1.

Even if an overdose does not occur, people who misuse any opioid drug or medication can experience lasting changes in their health. For example, long-term consumption can rob your body of its natural ability to ease pain. Chronic misuse of hydrocodone or other opioids can also lead to persistent changes in your ability to regulate mood and avoid extreme emotional highs and lows.

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment

Doctors and mental health professionals have a range of proven options for addressing mild, moderate and severe hydrocodone problems. Today, the most effective treatments make use of both medication and counseling or psychotherapy. On the medication front, there are three approved choices: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Methadone and buprenorphine are themselves opioid substances. However, when used properly by trained physicians, they don’t create a “high” or do anything else to support addiction. Quite the contrary, their use can help you make it through withdrawal and re-establish mental and physical well-being. The anti-opioid naltrexone, given only to people who have completed withdrawal, helps you deal with opioid cravings and avoid addiction-sustaining behaviors.

Psychotherapy options used to help people with hydrocodone problems include two behavior modification techniques: contingency management (CM) and community reinforcement approach (CRA) with vouchers. You may also benefit from therapy that prepares you for enrollment in a 12-step program. Together, the medication and therapy options used to treat opioid use disorder are known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Transformations Treatment Center is committed to helping you recover from hydrocodone problems and all other opioid-related issues. Instead of viewing you as an anonymous “addict,” we provide holistic care that places your substance use in a larger context. For medication-assisted treatment, we rely on the use of Suboxone (a buprenorphine-based medication) or naltrexone. We also offer a range of therapy options including specialized programs that cater to the needs of your specific situation. In every case, we focus on the best possible way to help you transition to a stable, substance-free lifestyle. Contact us today for more information on our certified staff of professionals and first-rate facilities.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid Overdose.
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