Between 2008 and 2011, the number of Caucasian people admitting to a heroin habit rose 75 percent, according to researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. This jump is due, in part, to the rise of prescription painkiller abuse. If you’re taking a drug like Vicodin regularly, you’re priming your brain cells to respond to drugs like heroin. In time, you might need to switch from Vicodin to heroin just to keep those altered brain cells happy.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right treatment program, you can get a handle on your Vicodin addiction. Your recovery will start with withdrawal.
Vicodin Withdrawal Basics
As your addiction progressed, your brain cells became accustomed to nearly constant access to Vicodin, and they changed their activity due to that drug exposure. Those cells will need to return to a normal, Vicodin-free mode of action, and withdrawal is designed to make that happen.
During withdrawal, your cells will have the opportunity to walk back through the steps they took as your addiction unfolded. Sometimes, that adjustment comes with a few unpleasant side effects. You might feel as though you have a terrible case of the flu, and it might last for a week or even longer.
In addition to those physical signs, you might have a strong, overwhelming craving for Vicodin. You might think about the drug from the time you awaken in the morning until the moment you head to bed at night. That craving stems from your altered brain cells, and their call for drugs might be hard to ignore.
Help with Withdrawal
While your physical discomfort might not be strong enough to threaten your life, your cravings might put you at risk for relapse. Treatment programs can help. According to research published in the Cochrane Library, two medications (buprenorphine and methadone) have the proven ability to soothe withdrawal discomfort, so addicted people can heal their brain cells without relapsing to drug use. The drugs are typically provided on a tapering basis, so you’ll take less every day until you’re taking none at all.
In addition to help with your cravings, you might also need help with physical illness during your Vicodin withdrawal. That’s because Vicodin also contains acetaminophen, and as The New York Times points out, that drug can cause serious liver damage. You might not notice signs until they become severe, but if left untreated, drug damage can lead to the need for a liver transplant. During withdrawal, your team can assess the health of your liver and provide you with treatments you need to stay well.
Your Vicodin withdrawal team might also provide:
- Simple, nutritious meals to soothe gastrointestinal distress
- Cool baths to ease muscle cramping
- Gentle exercise opportunities to blunt mental distress
- Cool, dark rooms for sleep
You may also tap into counseling sessions that will help you to understand that your withdrawal is normal, natural and a great way to start your healing. Once you understand how the process works, you might be less likely to quit too soon.
If you’re ready to talk about Vicodin addiction treatment right now, please contact us. We can help you find the right facility for your situation.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton