Many individuals find they have become addicted to Vicodin after undergoing surgery – largely due to the widespread prescription of Vicodin for treatment of post-surgical pain. From laparoscopic surgeries to major joint operations, Vicodin remains the painkiller of choice among many prescribing physicians. However, while the opiate analgesic remains effective in treating post-surgical pain, the prescription drug also carries with it a high potential for abuse – and the propensity to cause users to develop full-blown addiction to the drug.
Why Individuals Become Addicted to Vicodin After Surgery
There are several reasons that post-surgical Vicodin addiction has become such an epidemic in recent years. Here are just a few of the factors that often contribute to the development of Vicodin addiction after a surgery takes place.
- Tapering Levels of Pain
For the most part, post-surgical pain will be the most intense in the days after hospital discharge. During those first few days at home, many individuals will need a higher dosage of Vicodin in order to control pain. Most physicians anticipate these higher levels of pain and allow for the upper end of Vicodin consumption in their instructions. Unfortunately, many individuals continue taking Vicodin at the same frequency, even as post-surgical pain naturally begins to taper off, and less Vicodin is necessary for pain management.
- Increasing Vicodin Tolerance
As an opiate, Vicodin creates tolerance in the user after time and repeated use. As a result, many individuals require more Vicodin in order to achieve the same level of relief as tolerance increases. Unfortunately, tolerance to potential side effects of Vicodin does not develop, putting the user at a host of physical risks if dosage is increased too much or too quickly.
- Euphoric Effects of Vicodin
While not necessary in order to prevent pain, Vicodin also provides a euphoric “high” that many users experience as pleasurable. Vicodin acts on a host of neurotransmitters in the brain, including brain chemicals associated with calm and happiness. As a result, many users become addicted to the euphoric feelings associated with Vicodin during the recovery phase after surgery.
- Self-Medication of Psychological Issues
Often, surgery can bring about psychological or emotional issues that may cause mental stress or suffering. Such issues can include a loss of mobility, loss of autonomy, conflicts within relationships, financial hardships, loneliness, depression or anxiety. In some cases, Vicodin provides mood enhancement and escape that patients use to “self-medicate” these emotional or psychological issues. Over time, the brain must contend not only the mounting emotional problems that have increased, but the original surgery-inspired issues – all on top of the stress of Vicodin addiction.