Vicodin Addiction Causes, Addiction Signs, Symptoms & Side Effects

While Vicodin can be a safe, effective part of the healing process, it is a dangerous drug to abuse. The following information can help you understand the signs and symptoms associated with Vicodin addiction.

Understanding Vicodin Addiction

Learn about Vicodin and substance abuse

Vicodin is a prescription painkiller that doctors use to treat acute or chronic pain. It is widely prescribed and contains a mixture of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. When used as directed, this medication can safely improve your quality of life. But just like with other prescription drugs, using Vicodin outside of its intended purpose or to achieve a high can have serious consequences.


Learn about the prevalence of Vicodin addiction

The United States continues to be in the midst of a prescription drug abuse epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the number of prescriptions for drugs like Vicodin has increased from approximately 76 million in 1991 to nearly 207 million in 2013. The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of prescription painkillers, and this staggering increase in availability has helped to promote widespread abuse of these medications.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Vicodin addiction

Like with other forms of chemical dependence, there is no single predictor for Vicodin abuse. But researchers have identified certain factors that seem to increase the odds of addiction, including the following:

Genetic: Having a close relative, like a parent or sibling, who struggles with substance abuse may mean you’re more likely to develop an addiction to Vicodin.

Environmental: Your environment and certain personality traits might make you more susceptible to engaging in Vicodin abuse. For example, being surrounded by peers who abuse drugs might normalize this behavior.

Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction

Some of the more common symptoms of Vicodin abuse include the following:

Physical symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Itchiness

Psychological symptoms:

  • Cravings for Vicodin
  • Impaired judgment and reasoning capabilities
  • Attention and concentration disturbances
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Memory problems

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Frequent absenteeism at work
  • Continuing to abuse Vicodin even when you want to stop
  • Consuming Vicodin in unsafe situations, such as while operating a vehicle
  • Shirking your daily responsibilities
  • Avoiding activities that you once enjoyed
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Making multiple visits to various doctors in order to acquire more prescriptions for Vicodin (doctor shopping)
  • Attempting to steal someone else’s prescriptions
  • Forging a prescription for Vicodin

These symptoms may become more pronounced when one attempts to cease or limit their Vicodin use.


Effects of Vicodin addiction

Abusing Vicodin or other prescription drugs can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. It can cause you to become isolated, and can damage important relationships with people you care about. Left untreated, Vicodin addiction can lead to:

  • Oxygen deficiency within the body’s tissues
  • Liver damage
  • Vision impairment
  • Familial discord
  • Marital strife
  • Demise of friendships
  • Hindered occupational performance
  • Job loss
  • Financial turmoil
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Attempts at suicide
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Chronically dry nose and mouth
  • Worsening of current, or onset of new, mental illness symptoms

Co-Occurring Disorders

Vicodin addiction and co-occurring disorders

As is the case with many types of mental health conditions, an addiction to Vicodin may occur alongside other disorders, such as:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Tobacco use disorder
  • Stimulant use disorder
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Persistent depressive disorder

Effects of Withdrawal

Effects of withdrawal from Vicodin

After your body and mind become accustomed to the presence of Vicodin, you will experience painful withdrawal symptoms if you attempt to limit or cease your use. Withdrawal symptoms for Vicodin can include:

  • Dysphoric mood
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Chronic flowing of tears
  • Pupillary dilation
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Intense cravings for Vicodin
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia