For many veterans, especially combat exposed veterans, Vicodin plays an important role in their daily pain management. While this can do a lot to help military personnel re-integrate into civilian life, Vicodin is one of many prescription drugs that is regularly abused. And when this happens, it can lead to prescription drug addiction, which can drastically lower a veteran’s quality of life.
Vicodin addiction affects many United States veterans every year. To help you make informed medical choices and get the level of help that you need, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about Vicodin.
What Is Vicodin Used For?
Oftentimes, military personnel use this opioid pain reliever to treat injuries sustained during their service. And Vicodin makes for an effective painkiller due to its composition of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. This acetaminophen and hydrocodone combination changes how the body reacts to pain, making it easy to manage on a day-to-day basis.
While it can be useful, your doctor may hesitate to prescribe Vicodin due to its status as a Schedule II controlled substance, which limits how many pills may be distributed with each prescription. For this reason, individuals who have previously become physically dependent on a controlled substance may be encouraged to find another way to manage their pain. Even still, Vicodin is the best choice for some veterans with moderate to severe pain. But even in such cases, it’s important that military personnel know the side effects and risks of this habit-forming opioid.
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Possible Side Effects
The best way for veterans to protect their health is to carefully consider the pros and cons of any new medications. While this medication can have a profound pain relieving effect, it can also cause the following side effects:
These are the most mild side effects, and they are more common in people who have recently started taking Vicodin. In many cases, continuing to take the medication as prescribed will halt the side effects. However, if they worsen or do not go away as you continue to take the medication, consult with your doctor or pharmacist.
The list above only includes the less severe side effects of Vicodin, though. Sometimes, more severe issues may arise. Veterans looking for pain relief should tell their doctors immediately if they experience:
- Breathing problems during sleep
- Erratic moods or behaviors
- Difficulty urinating
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
While the above encompasses the worst-case scenario for many patients, Vicodin carries a small risk of causing more severe side effects. Know that these Vicodin side effects occur in only a very small percentage of users:
- Trouble breathing
- Difficulty waking up
If a service member experiences any of these life-threatening symptoms, they should call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.
Veterans should not be afraid to take Vicodin as prescribed. In most cases, Vicodin works as an effective tool for military personnel with moderate to severe pain. But by knowing the potential risks, veterans can make more informed choices for their health and well-being.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that the effects of Vicodin go beyond the physical. For many military personnel, Vicodin abuse marks the beginning of a long-term substance use disorder. Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between Vicodin and drug addiction.
How Does Vicodin Lead to Addiction?
In most cases, veterans start taking Vicodin for completely legitimate reasons, typically to treat injuries or chronic conditions that they sustained during their service. And when taken as prescribed, military personnel may never experience any issues with addiction. However, the issue arises when a veteran takes Vicodin more often than their doctor or pharmacist recommends.
Usually, veterans take more Vicodin than prescribed out of a genuine desire to reduce their pain. And it works, in the short term. But because Vicodin is an opioid, thanks to the hydrocodone in it, veterans run a higher risk of becoming addicted. As their bodies become physically dependent on the higher dosages, veterans find that they need more and more of the drug to treat their pain.
Unfortunately, this vicious cycle is difficult to stop. Eventually it becomes harder and harder to get enough Vicodin, at which point they may start to experience withdrawal symptoms. These disorienting and life-threatening symptoms can make anyone desperate, and in an effort to stop the withdrawals, veterans may turn to other opioids like heroin or fentanyl. And from there, veterans often lose savings, relationships, and even family as their addictions progress.
Escaping this pattern can feel impossible, but military personnel may have more options than they realize.
How to Get Help for Opioid Addiction
However a veteran comes to depend on opioids, they can always get help. At Heroes’ Mile in DeLand, Florida, we start with a medical detox program where service members can safely detox from opioids without experiencing the worst withdrawal symptoms. With our 24/7 medical supervision and support, our patients can safely detox from opioids without withdrawals endangering their health or pushing them toward relapse.
From there, we offer a residential drug rehabilitation program where military personnel can learn to overcome their Vicodin addiction. At this level of care, patients work with our veteran staff members to readjust to life without using drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms. By surrounding our patients with a supportive community of veterans who can understand their struggles, we show them that nobody is beyond recovery.
After this comprehensive, rehabilitative care, veterans may choose to enroll in our partial hospitalization program. This serves as a step down from our residential rehab, where veterans can take the first steps into civilian life without feeling overwhelmed or out of their depth. At this level of care, veterans attend treatment for five hours a day, during which time they receive quality care from addiction and recovery professionals.
Following this, many military personnel decide to continue the fight against Vicodin addiction in our intensive outpatient program (IOP). Our IOP serves as the final step down program for veterans in recovery, and it allows veterans to continue receiving care as they get more used to their daily lives without leaning on drugs or alcohol. Patients receive treatment on-site for two hours per day, with morning or evening schedules to match unique schedules.
Recovery from Vicodin Addiction Starts Here
Many veterans choose Florida as their home, and we are proud to help them on the journey to addiction recovery. Would you like to learn more about treatment provided by veterans for veterans? You can reach our admissions specialists at 1-888-838-6692 or fill out our digital contact form. No matter what your story, we are here to help you recover from all types of prescription drug abuse.