Many physicians fail to recognize patient dependency on Vicodin. Because the opiate analgesic is so commonly prescribed – and often, effectively so – for treating moderate and post-surgical pain, many physicians neglect to take the proper precautions when prescribing the drug. Additionally, many physicians overlook the necessary steps after a prescription has been written – including periodic checkups with the patient, frank discussions about addiction and referrals to Vicodin addiction treatment programs should chemical dependency develop.
Doctors: Consider If Your Patient Is Addicted to Vicodin
Here are a few simple and straightforward steps you can take as a physician to help your patients prevent – and treat – Vicodin addiction.
- Talk to Your Patients About Vicodin Abuse and Addiction
Many patients do not realize they may be experiencing signs of Vicodin withdrawal, or may confuse muscle and bone pains associated with Vicodin withdrawal with the originating pain. Educate your patients on signs of Vicodin dependency before writing them a prescription for the opiate analgesic. Give them warning signs to pay attention to and encourage them to call you if they feel they may be developing a chemical dependency on the drug. Always ask if patients have a prior history of drug or alcohol addiction, as these may predict a propensity for Vicodin addiction, as well.
- Offer Other Options Beyond Vicodin
Explain to your patient that should they find Vicodin addictive, other avenues of pain relief exist – medically and non-medically – in order to provide effective treatment. Many individuals mistakenly believe they have a choice between continuing hydrocodone use or suffering intense pain.
- Check in with Your Patients
Many physicians prescribe narcotic pain relievers and never make a call to ensure that the patient is adapting well to the new medicine. Take a few moments and check in with those patients who are taking prescription opiates such as Vicodin – especially if it is the patient’s first time on such a drug.
- Confront Suspected Vicodin Abuse
Taking care not to employ an accusatory approach, speak with your patient about Vicodin abuse and addiction. If your patient has exceeded the recommended dosage for Vicodin intake, do not offer refills on your prescription without an in-person checkup.
- Give Your Patient a Vicodin Addiction Treatment Referral
For many individuals seeking treatment for Vicodin addiction, family practitioners can help provide both rehab prescriptions and treatment referrals to reputable prescription drug addiction treatment centers.
- Talk About Alternative Pain Management
Physicians can also help patients become aware of alternative avenues of pain management beyond opiate analgesics such as Vicodin – and work with patients upon their successful return from rehab. Some patients can be helped by integrative medicine practices that seek out resolution above symptom relief, while others may benefit from biofeedback, visualization, nonaddictive medication or physical therapy.