The opioid problem in Colorado has become so bad that many doctors in Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs and across the state are refusing to prescribe these drugs even to patients who suffer from chronic pain. It’s a difficult situation that policymakers in Colorado are struggling to address. The state announced new prescribing guidelines for opioids in 2014, and even more recently the Centers for Disease Control also outlined even more rigid new guidelines.
Now there is the concern on the part of doctors and patients as there are attempts to balance the need for prescription opioids with the abuse problem that’s leading to so many addictions and deaths across the state and the nation.
While there has been controversy on behalf of people who truly suffer from chronic pain, the number of overdose deaths has gone down somewhat. Regardless, some people abuse these drugs in Colorado, and one such drug that’s highly abused is Vicodin.
What Is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a prescription painkiller that’s classified as an opioid. It includes hydrocodone, which is the actual opioid component, as well as paracetamol, which is also known as acetaminophen. Hydrocodone changes how the person taking the drug perceives pain, and it can increase pain tolerance.
Vicodin is a controlled substance by the DEA and is a narcotic that is intended to be used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain.
When hydrocodone is taken, particularly in higher doses, it can lead to a euphoric high, which is why Vicodin is so frequently abused and used recreationally.
Vicodin is a particularly dangerous drug because it not only contains an opioid component, but the acetaminophen is also dangerous. If you take too much acetaminophen in a 24-hour period, it can lead to liver damage, acute liver failure or death.
Is Vicodin Addictive?
If you’re prescribed Vicodin, you may wonder if it’s addictive and the answer is yes, very addictive in fact. Unfortunately, many people may start taking Vicodin following something like surgery or an accident, and they follow their doctor’s instructions, yet they still become addicted.
Vicodin use is incredibly high not only in Colorado but across the nation, and it’s particularly favored among young people.
People who abuse the drug recreationally may buy it illegally or steal it since it’s available only by prescription, or they may try to doctor shop or create false symptoms in hopes of getting a prescription. That’s why it’s become so tough for doctors and people who truly suffer from pain in states like Colorado. There is a need for the therapeutic benefits of Vicodin for some patients, but there are so many that abuse it that prescription guidelines are incredibly stringent.
People who abuse Vicodin will often crush it up and snort it or inject in order to get a faster, more powerful high and using the drug in this way is also more likely to lead to addiction. Abuse of Vicodin also includes taking more than what you’re prescribed or taking it more often than you’re instructed.
Why Is Vicodin So Addictive?
Opioids are drugs that cross all demographics. A person in Denver with a high-power job may be just as likely to abuse a drug like Vicodin as someone in a small town in Colorado who works in a minimum wage job. Vicodin and drugs like it are just so incredibly addictive because of the way they work on the brain.
When you take Vicodin and other opioids, they bind to opioid receptors in the central nervous system.
As that happens, your brain releases dopamine and your reward center is activated. You may feel a sense of euphoria or well-being, and then your brain is triggered to want to seek out what created that feeling. That’s how addiction to opioids begins. Your brain essentially becomes rewired, and chemical neurotransmitters are fundamentally changed to the point where your ability to control your cravings for the drug doesn’t exist anymore.
An addiction to Vicodin can begin in any number of ways. Vicodin addiction can start when you’re prescribed it by a doctor, and you get the euphoric high from it accidentally. You can also become addicted if you experiment with Vicodin recreationally, and in some cases, people may try to substitute Vicodin for another drug, and they end up addicted to it.
To reduce the likelihood of becoming addicted to Vicodin, it’s important only to take it with a prescription, and to follow your doctor’s instructions exactly.
Some of the signs of a Vicodin addiction include having mood swings or symptoms of depression or anxiety. People who are addicted to Vicodin may show declines in performance at school or work, they may steal drugs from friends or family, they may doctor shop to get more of the drug, or they may start to seem secretive.
How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Vicodin?
There is no definitive answer to how long it takes to get addicted to Vicodin. Some people might take Vicodin and never become addicted, whereas others might take it for a week or two and become addicted. It’s a game of chance and is also based on individual factors such as your personal and family history of substance abuse, potential underlying mental disorders, and whether or not you’re prescribed the drug.
It could take weeks, months or not happen at all, but for most people, addiction is a very real risk when they take this drug.
Another thing to consider is the fact that using Vicodin and other opioids can lead to physical dependence, even if you’re not psychologically addicted to them. This means that if you stop using these drugs suddenly, you go through withdraw.
If you live in Colorado and you think you may be addicted to Vicodin there are treatment options available to residents of Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and smaller towns like Palmer Lake, as well as statewide. It’s important to seek professional help to avoid the dangers of overdose, liver failure and the general adverse consequences of a drug addiction.