Vicodin addiction can onset quickly – and in many cases, by those who have never encountered drug addiction issues prior to taking the prescription opiate. Rocked by Vicodin’s effects on brain chemistry, many individuals don’t realize that Vicodin addiction has set in until they are already displaying signs of physical and psychological addiction. In fact, many patients who have taken Vicodin to treat moderate or post-surgical pain may not be able to recognize signs of Vicodin abuse – or have a baseline for their behavior with mind-altering drugs. Unfortunately, these factors can lead to the development of Vicodin addiction – which often requires professional intervention in order to successfully treat.
Why Physical Vicodin Addiction Occurs
Vicodin addiction generally has two facets – psychological addiction to the drug, as well as physical addiction to the neurochemical release provided by Vicodin. Physically, addiction sets in as the user begins to increase intake of Vicodin over time – often at rates so subtle, doctors and patients simply do not notice. Because Vicodin can initiate feelings of euphoria alongside pain relief, individuals often discount the pleasurable feelings the drug produces, focusing on the alleviation of pain instead.
However, as time progresses, Vicodin tolerance builds naturally. Users must then resort to higher levels of intake – and more frequent dosages – in order to achieve the same euphoric effects. This “high” from Vicodin ultimately stems from an excess of neurochemicals released in the brain – eventually resulting in reduced natural production of these neurotransmitters. When Vicodin is present in the system, the brain experiences this sharp chemical imbalance, leading to feelings of dysphoria, depression or anxiety. When Vicodin is reintroduced to the system, the brain’s chemical imbalance is temporarily cured, leaving the user contented until the drug wears off.
Why Psychological Vicodin Addiction Occurs
In addition to the physical addiction that Vicodin can induce, psychological dependency can also take place when the drug is taken for extended periods. Users often use Vicodin as a means of self-medicating stress, emotional pain or psychological issues , reinforcing their perceived need for the drug. Additionally, psychological addiction to Vicodin can be reinforced through operant conditioning. As the user experiences cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and ensuing relief through Vicodin consumption, a cycle of negative and positive reinforcement takes place.