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Are you addicted to Vicodin or just Vicodin-dependent?

If you don’t know, then read on to learn the differences between the two conditions, and if you want to stop Vicodin, learn about the different methods you can use to achieve your goal.

Vicodin Dependence vs. Vicodin Addiction

Vicodin Dependence

If you take Vicodin every day for a period of weeks, you’ll become physically dependent on the medication, you’ll need to take gradually increasing doses to feel the same analgesia and you’ll experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop or wait too long between doses.

  • If you never abuse Vicodin, you’re probably not addicted (though you may be dependent). If you are only Vicodin-dependent, you do not need addiction treatment. If you decide to stop you can likely minimize discomfort by tapering gradually, rather than stopping too suddenly.

Vicodin Addiction

If you sometimes use Vicodin just to feel good (not only to control pain), if you take more than your doctor prescribes or if you combine Vicodin with other substances to get high, then you abuse this medication and you are at serious risk of addiction.

With chronic use, and especially with chronic abuse, some people become both opioid dependent and opioid addicted. Addiction is considered a brain disorder – it’s like addiction hijacks control over the brain!. With repeated use of a very pleasurable substance, like Vicodin, you may cause dysfunction in brain circuits that regulate impulse control, memory, attention and others. You’re not aware of these changes as they occur, but once they do, it becomes very difficult to control your use behaviors. Some of the behavioral consequences of addiction brain changes include:1

  • Being unable to control how much you use (taking more than you had intended on using.)
  • Continuing to take Vicodin despite realizing that it does you harm.
  • Becoming fixated on getting and using the drug.
  • Craving Vicodin.
  • Neglecting your familial or work responsibilities
  • Engaging in uncharacteristic behaviors to get Vicodin (such as lying, doctor shopping or illegal acts.)

Test Yourself for Addiction

If you think you’re addicted, here’s a quick test that can help you identify the severity of your situation.2

Over the previous 3 months:

1. Did you ever feel that your use of Vicodin was out of control?

  • Never or almost never - 0 points
  • Sometimes - 1 point
  • Often - 2 points
  • Always or nearly always - 3 points

2. Did the idea of not getting Vicodin ever make you feel very anxious or nervous?

  • Never or almost never - 0 points
  • Sometimes - 1 point
  • Often - 2 points
  • Always or nearly always - 3 points

3. Did you worry about your use of Vicodin?

  • Never or almost never - 0 points
  • Sometimes - 1 point 
  • Often - 2 points
  • Always or nearly always - 3 points

4. Did you wish you could stop?

  • Never or almost never - 0 points
  • Sometimes - 1 point
  • Often - 2 points
  • Always or nearly always - 3 points

5. How difficult would it be for you to go without using?

  • Not difficult - 0 points
  • Quite difficult - 1 point
  • Very difficult - 2 points
  • Impossible - 3 points

Scoring

  • 0-3 = No addiction
  • 4-6 = mild addiction
  • 7-9 = Moderate addiction
  • 10-12 = Substantial addiction
  • 13-15 = Severe addiction

Vicodin Addiction Treatment Options

People who are addicted to Vicodin and Vicodin-dependent will experience withdrawal symptoms and very strong drug cravings when trying to quit. Most people who become addicted need some form of opioid addiction treatment – often combined with medication – to stay in recovery for any significant length of time.

Your main Vicodin addiction treatment options are:

  1. Opioid replacement therapy – methadone or Suboxone, ideally combined with ongoing addiction treatment.
  2. Opioid detox followed by residential or outpatient addiction treatment.
  • Not recommended: Detox or ultra rapid detox only – with no follow up addiction treatment.

Most people feel like if only they could get past the physical withdrawal symptoms, they’d be able to stay drug free for good. Unfortunately, without addiction treatment, this is rarely the case. Detox and stabilization is an essential phase that prepares you for treatment, but alone, if offers you little protection against relapse.  

Opioid Replacement Programs: Methadone or Suboxone

Research shows that people who combine effective medications with ongoing addiction treatment generally have the best chances for long term recovery3  and that people who stick with an opioid replacement program for at least a year are far more likely than those who try an un-medicated recovery to maintain abstinence from opioids.4

Methadone and Suboxone are medications that work as substitutes for Vicodin in your brain. When you take methadone or Suboxone instead of taking Vicodin each day, you will:

Residential or Outpatient Addiction Treatment

If Suboxone and methadone aren’t for you, you can try a detox program followed by a residential or outpatient addiction treatment program.

A Vicodin detox will last up to a week and can be a pretty unpleasant experience. You can detox on your own, but getting withdrawal assistance, on an outpatient or residential basis, can improve your comfort during this first phase.

After detox, addiction treatment teaches you how to avoid and overcome drug cravings and how to change your life to reduce the odds of relapse. Your addiction treatment program should last at least 3 months in total duration and you should stay involved with some form of continuing care program for at least the first year of recovery.

Your main options are:

  1. Opiate replacement therapy – Methadone or Suboxone, ideally combined with ongoing addiction treatment
  2. Opiate detox followed by participation in a residential or outpatient addiction treatment program

Not recommended: Most people feel like if only they could break free from these pills for a few days and get past the physical withdrawal symptoms, they’d be able to stay drug free for good. Unfortunately, without addiction treatment, this is rarely the case. Medical detox only (or ultra rapid detox only protocols) may get you drug free in a few days, but without further and continuing participation in an addiction treatment program, you are very likely to succumb to drug cravings and relapse back to use. Medical detox programs or ultra rapid detox are not truly forms of addiction but rather programs that get you ready to participate in addiction treatment – alone, they teach you nothing about avoiding relapse.

Opiate Replacement Programs: Methadone or Suboxone

Research shows that people who combine effective medications with ongoing addiction treatment generally have the best chances for long term recovery* and that people who stick with an opiate replacement program for at least a year are far more likely than those who try an un-medicated recovery to maintain abstinence from opiates.

Methadone and Suboxone are medications that work as substitutes for Vicodin in your brain. When you take methadone or Suboxone instead of taking Vicodin each day, you will:

  • Not feel withdrawal symptoms
  • Not feel drug cravings
  • Not get high
  • Be able to function normally once again

Taking a pill once or twice a day or taking a daily dose of methadone get you free from the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that derail so many unmedicated opiate recovery attempts. On methadone or Suboxone, you can function normally once again and can get your life back on track before you make an ultimate attempt to taper down off either of these medications.

Research shows that people who do best in opiate replacement programs take their medication for at least a year and also participate in addiction treatment programs, like group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or relapse prevention programs.

There are a lot of myths and untruths that circulate about methadone and Suboxone treatment, but since these medications may represent your very best shot at a lasting recovery you get educated about the pros and cons of opiate replacement therapy before making any treatment decision.

Vicodin Detox Followed by Residential or Outpatient Addiction Treatment

If Suboxone and methadone don’t feel right to you, you can also break-free from Vicodin addiction by participating in a supervised detox program followed by a participation in a residential or outpatient addiction treatment program.

A Vicodin detox will last up to a week and can be a pretty unpleasant experience. Entering into a supervised detox program for this first week of abstinence is a good way to reduce the discomfort of the period as you also increase your odds of sticking the week out.

Although opiate withdrawal symptoms aren’t generally dangerous, nursing care and symptoms relieving medications can improve your comfort during this initial stage..

Detox alone is not considered addiction treatment and those that leave the process after detox only are likely destined to relapse back to Vicodin abuse and addiction. After a stay in detox you are ready, however, to begin the real work of recovery by participating in an outpatient or residential addiction treatment program.

Find out if you need residential or outpatient addiction treatment.

Addiction treatment teaches you how to avoid and overcome drug cravings and how to change your life to reduce the odds of relapse.

Your addiction treatment program should last at least 3 months in total duration and you should stay involved with some form of continuing care program for at least the first year of recovery.

You Can Beat Vicodin Addiction

Recovery from opiate addiction is tough – but people do it everyday and so can you.

Grant yourself the time and energy that’s needed for the best odds at long term success. There are no quick fixes, but with effort and perseverance and by using the best medications and/or addiction treatment methods, you give yourself a strong foundation for a better life in the future!

References
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Page last updated Aug 15, 2016

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