Native Americans and Vicodin Use

Native Americans and Vicodin UseVicodin is a prescription painkiller that contains hydrocodone, an addictive opiate. It affects dopamine levels in the brain to change how the central nervous system reacts to pain. Vicodin can be a lifesaver for people who need help managing pain, but it 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. If you or a Native American loved one abuses Vicodin, then seek professional help to recover.

Signs of Vicodin Addiction

The following issues indicate that someone is high on Vicodin:

  • Anxiety
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lethargy and drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Inability to concentrate

Symptoms of Vicodin addiction include the following issues:

  • Mood swings
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Preoccupation with finding and using Vicodin
  • Depression or anxiety when unable to take Vicodin
  • Loss of motivation
  • Inability to handle typical pressures
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

Vicodin affects the nerve cells that operate the spinal cord, limbic system and brain stem. When these nerve cells respond to opiates, they send a signal that affects how the brain functions. As the drug begins to wear off, brain function slowly shifts back to normal, but tolerance, dependence and addiction can all result from chronic use. Vicodin also impacts the brain in the following ways:

  • 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 if the brain can completely heal from long-term Vicodin abuse, so the sooner someone seeks addiction help, the better her chances for minimizing damage.

Native Americans and Vicodin Abuse

Although many people know that Native Americans greatly abuse alcohol, abuse of opiates such as Vicodin is rising on reservations. Compared to other races, Native Americans are more likely than other ethnic groups to overdose on opiates such as Vicodin, especially for any of the following reasons:

  • Inadequate overall healthcare
  • Doctors who overprescribe medications
  • Shortage of drug treatment facilities

Another reason why Vicodin abuse is rising on reservations is related to policy. Indian Health Service clinics do not charge for prescription medication, so Native Americans who struggle with poverty and unemployment opportunities may fake symptoms to obtain Vicodin through these clinics. Once they get drugs, they can sell the pills on the black market to make money.

Help for Native American Vicodin Addicts

Regardless of someone’s ethnicity, asking for help is the first step in overcoming Vicodin addiction. Talk to a sober friend, share your concerns honestly with your doctor and call a recovery center to jumpstart the recovery process. If you or a Native American you love struggles with Vicodin addiction, know that help is available. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness, so don’t go it alone when support is just one phone call away.