According to The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one out of every five teenagers has tried the narcotic pain reliever Vicodin. Abuse of pharmaceuticals is becoming an increasingly larger problem among teenagers, partly because of their availability and also because of misconceptions about these medications. Some teens believe that using Vicodin and other prescription pain killers is safer than using illegal drugs but this is not true.
If you are a teenager who needs help with stopping Vicodin use or overcoming an addiction to prescription medications, please call us at for confidential support and assistance. Parents and guardians can also call at any time for information on teen drug abuse and to discuss available treatment options.
The Effects of Vicodin Use
Vicodin is intended to help ease moderate to severe pain. The pills contain hydrocodone, which is a habit-forming narcotic, and acetaminophen, which is a less potent pain reliever that boosts the effects of hydrocodone. Abuse of this drug can cause euphoric feelings or a heightened sense of well-being. Vicodin use can have many unpleasant side effects too, including:
- Unusual thoughts and mood changes
- Headaches and confusion
- Shallow breathing
- Nausea, vomiting and constipation
Continued use of this potent pain medication can also lead to addiction. People who take it as prescribed may develop a physical dependency to it after long-term use; however, those who take more than prescribed or use it without a medical reason may become both physically and psychologically addicted to the prescription drug.
Symptoms of Teen Vicodin Use and Dependence
It can be difficult to determine whether a teen is abusing Vicodin or other prescription medications. Unusual behaviors or changes in a teen’s mood can be confused with the typical phases of adolescence. Parents and guardians who keep prescription medications in the home and are concerned with the possibility of teen drug abuse should keep their prescriptions locked up or monitored, especially because prescriptions that are abused are commonly obtained from relatives.
A teenager who is addicted to Vicodin may experience or exhibit a range of physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms, including:
- Anxiety or irritability when the drug is not available
- Poor performance in school
- Loss of interest in hobbies and extracurricular activities
- Obsessive thoughts about using or obtaining the medication
- More time spent with a different peer group
If a teen cannot obtain more of the drug and has been using it frequently and on a consistent basis, she may experience Vicodin withdrawal symptoms. Over time, the body develops a tolerance to the medication and requires larger doses for the same effect. If a teen begins to complain of muscle aches, nausea, cold flashes, insomnia, gastrointestinal distress and other health problems developing, there is a possibility that the symptoms are a result of prescription drug withdrawal.
The Dangers of Vicodin Abuse in Teens
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than seven percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 admitted to using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. One of the most commonly abused prescriptions is the opioid Vicodin.
When teenagers abuse prescription medications, they may take unsafe doses or accidentally mix medications that are contraindicated. The possibility for this is high when teens attend increasingly popular “pharm parties,” gatherings of kids taking cocktails of prescription medications. This abuse of prescriptions can lead to overdoses, and adverse effects are even more likely when the medications are paired with alcohol.
Without treatment, Vicodin addiction can also lead to a variety of problems, including health issues, legal troubles and financial strain. Addressing the addiction and substance abuse during the teen years can help prevent these problems from developing or worsening as the teen approaches adulthood.
Rehabilitation Options for Teen Vicodin Abuse and Addiction
Drug Rehab Centers
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Treatment for teen Vicodin addiction is available in different types of treatment settings. One option is an inpatient rehabilitation center. In some cases, teens are legally ordered to attend these centers, such as when they are charged with possession or another crime while under the influence. They can also be admitted by their parents or guardians.
Inpatient treatment is ideal for teens who need medical monitoring or a change in their environment or peer group to abstain from the drug. Physicians help the admitted teen detox from medications in a safe and healthy manner. If other physical issues are present, those conditions can receive treatment as well. During inpatient treatment, teens are also involved in counseling and recreational activities. Counseling helps them address problems that led to substance abuse, such as conflicts within the family and underlying mental health conditions.
Another option is outpatient rehabilitation. With this type of treatment, the teen will routinely speak with a counselor and may also undergo regular drug testing to help ensure sobriety. Outpatient therapy for teen Vicodin addiction may include both individual and group therapy. Group therapy helps teens develop more positive social relationships and learn to cope with urges to use the drug. Role-playing sessions may be included as well to help teens learn to say “no” to drugs.
In either type of rehabilitation setting, the main focus is usually on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy can help teens learn to deal with anxiety and stress in a healthy way, and it also helps them form new behavioral patterns. For example, if a teen tends to turn to Vicodin after a fight with his or her parents, CBT will help the teen learn and practice different methods of dealing with conflict. A rewards system may also be used to encourage sobriety.
If you are interested in Vicodin addiction rehabilitation for yourself or a young loved one, please give us a call at . The call is free and confidential. Discussing the available treatment options can be the first step to a full recovery from teen Vicodin addiction.