There are many underlying origins—biological, psychological and social—that can lead to an addiction to Vicodin, including a genetic predisposition to drug abuse and addiction, childhood or recurring physical or mental abuse and previous experience with opioids and their effects. But sadly, beyond their use for moderate to serious relief from pain as prescribed by a medical professional it’s common for a dependence to and tolerance for the drug to develop quickly as the body and brain become accustomed to the drug’s effects in a relatively short period of time.
Among the most common signs of a Vicodin addiction are “nodding out,” a condition in which the abuser appears to be in a constant daze or have difficulty focusing on a particular task or conversation; vomiting or nausea; severe and sudden mood swings; a noticeable state of paranoia; uncontrollable bouts of depression accompanied by insomnia; and an obvious obsession with getting more of the drug, which may involve visiting different physicians to obtain multiple prescriptions, lying about a prescription being lost, going through their prescription too quickly or outright stealing of Vicodin from family and friends.
Other physical symptoms of Vicodin abuse—which are common with the abuse of any opioid—are a slowed heartbeat; lightheadedness; confusion and fear; seizures and convulsions; a headache accompanied by blurred vision; ringing in the ears; constricted pupils; itching and swelling; extreme weakness; cold and clammy skin; constant drowsiness; and persistent constipation. Many of these outward signs of abuse may signal a potential Vicodin overdose as well, and therefore should be closely monitored. In the event of an overdose it’s vital the individual seek emergency medical attention immediately as their heart rate may slow down to point of coma or death.
As recognizable as the physical signs and symptoms of Vicodin abuse may be, the social aspects may be harder to realize. Sometimes an addict displays a slow withdrawal from friends and family members and ceases hobbies and activities that were
once enjoyable. The psychological symptoms of abuse may also be less noticeable, and may include bouts of euphoria and anxiety; severe mood swings, delusion thinking or behavior; and memory problems.
As the abuser develops a tolerance to Vicodin, more and more of the drug is needed to attain both the pain-relieving effects as well as the euphoric high that accompanies those effects. And over time Vicodin can seriously harm the body’s internal systems, causing liver damage or failure (due to the acetaminophen present in the compound), jaundice and problems with the urinary system. Additionally, after long-term abuse Vicodin alters receptors in the brain, and therefore the effects of the drug—especially difficulty concentrating, severe mood swings, anxiety and depression—can become permanent conditions.