At the core, each case of opiate addiction – including cases of prescription drug addiction to Vicodin – are physical in nature. Opiates affect not only the brain and body’s opioid receptors, effectively blocking pain, but the body develops tolerance to the effect of opiates over time, triggering increasingly high levels of usage that inevitably lead to addiction. Additionally, opiates such as Vicodin act on the brain’s dopamine systems, causing a flood of neurochemicals that control feelings of euphoria, happiness and calm.
Why Neurotransmitters Cause Vicodin Addiction
As the brain begins to sense the abundance of such chemicals during Vicodin intake, it naturally lowers its own production of these vital neural hormones. As a result, dopamine levels only remain steady when Vicodin remains active in the body after ingestion. As soon as Vicodin exits the system (relatively quickly, due to the drug’s short half-life), the user experiences an emotional and psychological crash alongside cravings for more of the drug. Not until Vicodin is totally removed from the system for a long enough period of time can the brain sense the chemical imbalance at work and begin to correct it. This process, known as withdrawal, is often marked by physical and psychological symptoms that make it temporarily difficult for users to avoid returning to use. If users can resist the temptation to eliminate physical withdrawal symptoms and instantly fix temporary mood shifts due to Vicodin’s absence, physical cravings will eventually subside.
How Unhealed Trauma Can Promote Vicodin Addiction
For some individuals, however, Vicodin addiction also has a psychological and deeply emotional aspect. Trauma can also affect the levels of chemicals and hormones released by the brain. Situations such as child abuse, domestic violence, rape, natural disasters or combat experience can all lead to Vicodin addiction as users make attempts to self-medicate, emotionally numb themselves or simply escape negative memories. In such cases, trauma therapies may be used in order to help heal underlying causes for Vicodin addiction. Similarly, trauma may have helped forge negative beliefs about the world and the self that likewise exacerbate Vicodin abuse.
How Lack of Life Skills Can Facilitate Vicodin Addiction
Others find that they never forged the tools necessary in order to cope with stress, anger, communication or life’s demands. Vicodin temporarily provides the calm, clarity, articulation or lack of inhibitions necessary in order to tackle daily fears. By learning stress management, anger management, communication skills and life skills such as organization and time management, patients can learn to develop the core traits necessary in order to cope well with life, without the use of Vicodin or other opiates.