Despite its status as a prescription drug, Vicodin falls into the same class of drugs as heroin – the opiate drug family. Like other opiates, Vicodin acts upon pain receptors situated throughout the body, working to alleviate pain. However, Vicodin also initiates a host of chemical responses in the brain and body, particularly acting on the body’s production of dopamine levels – a neurochemical responsible for feelings of calm and euphoria. When Vicodin-addicted individuals make an attempt at sobriety, the ensuing chemical imbalances lead users to experience withdrawal symptoms, driving them back to urges to reuse. Treatment for Vicodin withdrawal becomes necessary in order to free the body of this cycle of cravings and negative symptoms – allowing physical addiction to be ended when detox is successfully achieved.
The Role of Vicodin Withdrawal in Addiction
Many users who take Vicodin – also known as hydrocodone – experience pleasurable feelings once the drug is ingested, causing the “high” associated with intake. Compounding the brain’s natural levels of dopamine production, the user experiences unrivaled feelings of pleasure as it shifts into a state of chemical excess. Over time, the brain registers this overabundance of dopamine, scaling back natural production of the neurotransmitter.
When the brain makes this amendment in natural neurochemical production, dopamine levels become inadequate unless drugs are present in the system. The body and brain enter a state of chemical imbalance during periods of self-imposed abstinence or when Vicodin supply runs low, preventing use. In periods of abstinence, the brain feels the sharp chemical deficiency of dopamine – sharply demonstrated when Vicodin is removed from the body and users feel their moods crashing and urges to reuse inexplicably arising.
Withdrawal Symptoms, Cravings and Vicodin Addiction
This process is compounded by the body’s response to the sudden removal of Vicodin, triggering natural reactions such as loose stools and diarrhea (as opposed to Vicodin-induced constipation and dehydration), deep muscular and skeletal pains (as pain receptors reactivate) and a host of other related symptoms. The combination of physical withdrawal symptoms and chemically related cravings culminate in the first one to two weeks after cessation of Vicodin use, leaving the user in the throes of withdrawal that so often fuel relapse and prevent sobriety.
Successful Treatment for Vicodin Withdrawal
When Vicodin addiction has taken hold, a period of abstinence is necessary in order to allow the body to readjust to the absence of the drug. As the body resumes its natural functions, moving past withdrawal symptoms, the brain begins to take notice of the coinciding chemical imbalance and steps up neurotransmitter production once again. Once dopamine levels begin to improve, users no longer feel strong physical cravings for the drug as withdrawal resolves.
In order to guide patients through the physical and psychological stress of withdrawal, Vicodin addiction treatment facilities offer on-site detoxification services. Vital signs can be monitored and prescription and over-the-counter drugs given to help manage any physical symptoms present during withdrawal. Additionally, psychiatric medications and counseling can help combat mental health issues, including depression, mood swings, paranoia and anxiety. Hydration and nutrients can be reintroduced to the body as it begins to heal during the withdrawal phase, as well. Complications can be guarded against through the use of diagnostic testing, physical examinations and close medical supervision. Typically, after one to two weeks, Vicodin withdrawal symptoms tend to subside, allowing addicted individuals to move into a secondary phase of treatment marked by more intensive psychotherapy.