Vicodin is a prescription pain reliever that contains the narcotic hydrocodone. It affects dopamine levels in the brain in order to change how the central nervous system reacts to pain. Vicodin can be a lifesaver for people who need help managing pain, but the drug can be a trap for people who abuse it. When taken at high doses, it creates a sense of euphoria that can lead to addiction within one to four weeks, depending on individual tolerance. Signs of physical addiction include the following:
- Constricted pupils
- Lethargy and drowsiness
- Inability to concentrate
Symptoms of psychological dependence include the following:
- Mood swings
- Continued use despite negative consequences
- Preoccupation with finding and using the drug
- Depression or anxiety when not able to take the drug
- Loss of motivation
- Inability to handle typical pressures
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
Vicodin addiction is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. With professional help, recovery is possible.
Your Brain on Vicodin
Vicodin affects the nerve cells that operate the spinal cord, limbic system and brain stem. When these nerve cells respond to opiates, a signal is sent to the receptors that control the way the brain functions. As the drug begins to wear off, brain functions slowly shift back to normal. Tolerance, dependence and addiction are all manifestations of brain changes resulting from chronic use. Other ways Vicodin impacts the brain include the following:
- Changes the communication patterns between nerve cells
- Changes shapes of neurons and cells
- Rewires pleasure circuits to produce cravings
- Alters synapses between cells
No one knows for sure whether the brain can ever completely heal from long-term Vicodin addiction. Some evidence suggests that the ability to feel pleasure naturally never returns to normal levels. Vicodin also seems to be capable of shrinking brain areas that are critical for executive functioning and impulse control, which could be one explanation for the high incidence of relapse. The sooner an individual recovers from addiction, the better his or her chances are for minimizing lasting damage.
Recovery from Vicodin Addiction
If you or someone you love struggles with Vicodin abuse, you are not alone. Recovery counselors at our toll-free, 24-hour support line can guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction. Please call and start your recovery today.