Vicodin, which is a brand name for the pharmaceutical combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, is an opioid painkiller frequently prescribed to manage pain of moderate severity. This prescription opioid is often abused and can be highly addictive because of its impact on reward centers in the brain—where it plays a large role in mediating neurochemical opioid effects such as euphoria and relaxation. Although Vicodin addiction can be difficult to overcome, detox can facilitate the opioid withdrawal process as you prepare to enter an ongoing addiction treatment program.
This article covers the following information related to Vicodin detox:
- Vicodin abuse and addiction.
- Detox definition.
- Is detox required?
- Vicodin withdrawal syndrome.
- What happens in detox?
- Treatment after Vicodin detox.
- Find a detox program today.
Vicodin Abuse and Addiction
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Next to alcohol, opioid drug abuse is one of the oldest and most pervasive addiction problems in human history 1. Vicodin abuse occurs for many of the same reasons that people abuse other opioid drugs, such as heroin. Drugs like Vicodin essentially mimic certain naturally-occurring, endogenous neurotransmitters – or chemical messengers in the brain – known as endorphins and enkephalins. In doing so, these manmade drugs potently interact with nerve cell structures known as opioid receptors. Drugs like Vicodin temporarily stimulate opioid receptors beyond what our endogenous neurotransmitters are capable of themselves. The enhanced activity at these receptors alleviataes pain, increases relaxation, decreased anxiety, and can produce euphoria through the subsequent associated effects in our brain reward centers 1.
Long-term Vicodin use, even when taken as prescribed, can lead to tolerance, which results in a diminished therapeutic effect when the same dose is taken. Many people begin to take higher or more frequent doses of the opioid to alleviate pain, while others take the medication illegally in order to achieve a high.
Chronic Vicodin use can also lead to physical dependence, which is the body’s gradual adaptation to the presence of the drug. The body will eventually begin to feel and function sub-optimally without Vicodin. Once significant chemical dependence is established, distressing withdrawal symptoms will develop when use has been cut back or stopped. While the development of dependence and tolerance don’t always signify the presence of an addiction, they are characteristic features frequently associated with it. The unpleasant withdrawal symptoms associated with cessation of use can make it difficult to overcome Vicodin addiction on your own. A drug detox program can provide you with support so you don’t have to face this process alone.
If you are ready to quit using Vicodin, call 1-888-241-8971 to find a detox program that best suits your needs.
Detox is often the first step in overcoming a Vicodin addiction and beginning the recovery process. A detoxification program helps you manage Vicodin withdrawal symptoms while the drug is cleared from your body. Drug detox is a process that involves supervision and pharmaceutical intervention designed to safely and comfortably help to wean you off the drug 2.
You might undergo detoxification at a short-term detox program or as a part of a comprehensive inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Though individual program design will vary, Vicodin detox programs usually include interventions such as:
- Intake evaluation.
- Medication-assisted detoxification.
- Supervised medical care, including treatment for other co-occurring medical or psychiatric conditions.
- Planning for ongoing treatment to commence after program completion.
Remember, however, that detox alone is not sufficient to overcome Vicodin addiction; it is the first step toward sobriety. Once you complete a detox program, it will be beneficial for you to enter a formal treatment program to continue your path to recovery.
Is Detox Required?
While Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are not fatal, they can be uncomfortable and distressing. Professional detox is not necessarily required for opioid withdrawal, but the medical care offered by detox programs can help to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings while Vicodin is eliminated from your body.
Vicodin Withdrawal Syndrome
Vicodin withdrawal syndrome affects everyone differently. The symptoms you may experience depend on a number of factors, including:
- Your physiological makeup.
- The length of time you used Vicodin.
- The amount of Vicodin you used.
- Whether you also abused other drugs.
The following is a list of potential Vicodin withdrawal symptoms 3:
- Increased tearing of the eyes.
- Increased mucus in the nose.
- Muscle aches.
- Excessive sweating.
- Goose bumps.
- Abdominal cramps.
What Happens in Detox?
You may be unsure as to what the detox process may entail. Undergoing detox at a professional facility means that you will receive care from staff who are specially trained in detoxification; they will provide as much support and encouragement as possible to help you through the entire withdrawal process.
The detox process consists of three main components, which includes 2:
- Evaluation: This is the assessment phase. Your blood is analyzed for substances you may have used and you are evaluated for any co-occurring mental or physical health issues. Detox center staff assess the best level of care for your needs and determine the type of treatment you will benefit from the most once you have detoxed.
- Stabilization: This is essentially the meat of the detox process, in which Vicodin is cleared from your body. You may receive medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, that help to ease withdrawal symptoms and decrease cravings. With your consent and with respect to confidentiality, your family, employer, or other significant people in your life may be involved in this stage, once you have been stabilized.
- Entry into a treatment program: Once you have successfully detoxed from Vicodin, detox center staff will advise you to enter a formal drug treatment program; they will help facilitate this step by preparing you with what to expect during treatment and making referrals to appropriate treatment facilities, depending on your specific needs.
As with withdrawal symptoms, the detox process can be different for everyone. The length of detox depends on the length of time and amount of Vicodin you used, as well as the presence of any additional drug abuse. Generally speaking, detox usually lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Treatment after Vicodin Detox
Detox is a valuable first step towards a sober and happy life, but detox alone is not sufficient in facilitating long-term recovery. Everyone who undergoes detox should consider transitioning into an outpatient or inpatient treatment program to help fortify their recovery. Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are effective in providing you with the skills you need to maintain sobriety over time.
Some of the treatment options you might consider after detox include:
- Inpatient treatment: You will receive 24/7 care and support in a residential facility. Treatment can be long- or short-term, lasting a few weeks to a few months. Some likely treatment interventions you’ll receive include group counseling, individual therapy, family therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and 12-step meetings.
- Outpatient treatment: You will attend treatment between one and several times per week at an outpatient facility while still living at home and fulfilling work, school, and household responsibilities. You will participate in many of the same treatments as those offered by inpatient facilities but on a less time-intensive basis.
- Luxury programs: You will stay at a high-end residential facility in a desirable location, such as at the beach, with access to top-notch, luxurious amenities. Luxury programs offer many of the same treatment modalities as standard inpatient programs but provide access to posh amenities and services, such as spa treatments, gourmet meals, private rooms, swimming pools, golf, and exercise facilities.
- Executive programs: An executive program is tailored to the needs of professionals in demanding or high-profile positions. You will participate in traditional treatments but also have the freedom to continue working with access to workrooms and high-speed internet.
- Holistic treatment: Beneficial for those who prefer a natural approach that focuses on healing the mind, body, and spirit, a holistic treatment program might offer organic meals and complementary and alternative therapies, such as yoga, aromatherapy, art and music therapy, and meditation.
- 12-step programs: Often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, people attend 12-step groups to work through the 12 steps of recovery originally outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). You might participate in a 12-step program for the rest of your life if you feel that you benefit from the fellowship and support of others who have been in your shoes.
Regardless of the type of recovery program you select, the ultimate goal is to facilitate positive change in your life by achieving and maintaining sobriety. While in treatment you will build healthy coping strategies, learn to recognize and avoid trigger situations, strengthen interpersonal relationships, and develop sober social skills.
Find a Detox Program Today
Don’t put off your sobriety any longer. Call 1-888-241-8971 today to speak to an addiction support professional to discuss the best detox program for your needs.
1. Harvard Health Publications. (2004). Treating opiate addiction, Part I: Detoxification and maintenance.
2. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Rockville, MD. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). MedlinePlus, Opiate and opioid withdrawal.
4. Kosten, T. and George, T. (2002). The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment. Science and Practice Perspectives, 1(1), 13–20.