“Pill popping” – most commonly references Vicodin abuse.
At face value, Vicodin is a prescription medication for pain, a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is in the opioid family and acetaminophen treats pain and fever.
Vicodin can be appropriately used as one tool to manage chronic, acute or even moderate pain. But many Americans slip into misuse, dependency and abuse, pill popping the drug to numb physical and emotional pain alike.
Vicodin addiction is not to be taken lightly; what is being abused as an emotional band-aid and prescription catch-all is enmeshing thousands nationwide in the thralls of the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic.
Vicodin tablets are swallowed whole, crushed and snorted, mixed into drink or injected. It also comes in liquid formulas. Abuse is not limited to those prescribed the medication; Vicodin is a common recreationally abused and black-market retail product: people often steal, or sell off a prescription.
With a keen eye, signs of Vicodin addiction are visible:
Signs of Vicodin Addiction
Symptoms of Vicodin addiction can include:
- Blurred vision
- Constricted pupils
- Intense mood swings
- Nausea, vomiting
- Problems with attention and focus
- Ringing in the ears
- Slow heartbeat
Vicodin has been classified with the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II drug due to its high potential for abuse.
Red Flags of Vicodin Abuse
- “Doctor shopping” – trying to get multiple prescriptions for Vicodin from various doctors
- Obsession with obtaining more Vicodin, may even frequent others’ homes to raid their medicine cabinet
- Taking Vicodin at random times of the day
Withdrawal effects can also be evident:
- Bone and muscle pain
- Chills and fever
- Nausea and vomiting
Vicodin Inside the Body
Vicodin has dual efficacy since it’s a fusion of two painkillers.
- Same as its opioid relatives, hydrocodone binds to opioid receptor locations on nerve cells; thus numbing the body’s pain perception. The opioid interference also causes a rush release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which activates the brain’s reward system with euphoric sensations.
- Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol and other over the counter pain relievers comes at a much higher concentration in Vicodin. High doses of acetaminophen are extremely detrimental to the liver.
Effects of Vicodin abuse are pretty transparent. The euphoria it produces makes it highly salient to users and in fact, many who legitimately take it for pain find themselves inadvertently addicted. Like a knee-jerk reaction, the body comes to expect the high and fear moments without the sedation. But progressively the health damages strike even and surpass the medical benefits.
Tolerance to the opioid-infused drug will often callous the individual and necessitate increasingly more Vicodin to get its effects. An abundance of Vicodin in the system can dangerously slow breathing – and can be fatally compounded by alcohol in the bloodstream.