Is Vicodin an Opiate? – Vicodin, an opioid, is among the most abused drugs in the United States. Its active ingredients include the painkiller hydrocodone and acetaminophen, a much milder non-steroidal pain reliever. Because hydrocodone is an opioid, technically Vicodin is not an opiate, although there might be some confusion since these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
Opiates vs. Opioids
The term “opiate” generally refers to natural compounds derived from the opium poppy, such as morphine and codeine. These compounds are extracted for use in popular prescription drugs.
Opioids are either synthetic (entirely human-made) or semi-synthetic (partially derived from opiates). Moreover, semi-synthetic opioids are a hybrid substance that results from chemical modifications of natural opiates that are then combined with synthetic opioids.
The active painkiller in Vicodin, hydrocodone, is derived from codeine and is, therefore, a semi-synthetic opioid, while other drugs, such as methadone and fentanyl, are fully synthetic.
How Opiates and Opioids Work
Both opiates and opioids work by modifying a person’s perception of pain. Both bind to opioid receptors, which are specialized nerve cells in the brain. When the drugs are bound, the nerve cells send altered messages to the brain that result in reduced levels of pain severity.
Pain is relieved when hydrocodone acts on the central nervous system (CNS) as noted, while acetaminophen further reduces pain and fever. Vicodin is most commonly prescribed for pain relief following injury or surgery.
Vicodin can be found in the following formulas:
- 5 mg of hydrocodone with 300 mg of acetaminophen
- 7.5 mg of hydrocodone with 300 mg of acetaminophen
- 10 mg of hydrocodone with 300 mg of acetaminophen
Vicodin dependence, tolerance, and addiction can occur after it has been used to manage pain over a prolonged period. Also, some people abuse Vicodin in an attempt to induce effects like those felt when taking other opioids, like codeine, morphine, or heroin.
Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse
The signs and symptoms of Vicodin misuse or abuse are similar to those of other opioids, and include the following:
- Slow heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Constricted pupils
- Tinnitus (ringing ears)
If a person uses too much Vicodin, he or she risks inducing CNS depression to the point of death. If this condition transpires, their skin will be clammy, cold, and may appear bluish, and the person may become unresponsive and slip into a coma. This is considered to be a life-threatening emergency, and medical help should be sought immediately.
Addicted individuals may resort to criminal activity to obtain drugs if they run out of the money they need to buy them. Pharmacy theft is one of these crimes. Some areas are targeted so often by these thefts that some drugstore chains only allow the distribution of these drugs at a few select locations.
In other cases, items of value, such as electronics, may be missing out of a home or business or the homes of other friends or family members. It may be very difficult for a family to understand that a person they have known and loved for years has suddenly changed so much in such a destructive way—indeed, that is the very nature of addiction.
Is Vicodin an Opiate?: Addiction and Abuse
People who use prescription drugs often get started on their way to addiction purely by accident. They may experience some kind of pain due to an injury and have the drug prescribed by a doctor. As their tolerance develops, they need more and more of the drug to keep the pain at bay. They may then exceed the dosages of the drug the doctor is willing to prescribe and progress to obtaining it illicitly.
Others start abusing the drug from the first dose by snorting, injecting, or consuming more than recommended. Once a person is addicted, their intentions at the beginning may not matter much anymore. Eventually, drug use takes priority over everything else in life, including their health and critical responsibilities such as work and family.
Treatment for Vicodin or Opioid Addiction
Harmony Recovery Center is a specialized treatment facility dedicated to helping people surmount addictions to drugs or alcohol. We are committed to proving our clients with the tools and support they need to experience a full recovery and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and wellness.
Recovery from Vicodin addiction is definitely achievable. For the individual in recovery, the process of withdrawal can seem dreadful, but this can be addressed through outpatient detox and medical supervision during the withdrawal period.
Following detox, patients can benefit from partial-hospitalization or outpatient programs that include behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, health and wellness programs, and much more.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Vicodin, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today and discover how we can help you overcome addiction for life!