Addicted to Vicodin and Alcohol

How to Help Someone Addicted to Vicodin and Alcohol

Every bottle of prescription pain medication dispensed carries a warning not to drink alcohol while taking the drug.  This is because the prescription opioids depress the central nervous system, as does alcohol. Together, the effect of taking a drug such as Vicodin, which contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen, while consuming alcohol can lead to respiratory distress, even overdose.

After an injury or surgery, Vicodin is commonly prescribed to manage pain.  If the patient already has a problem with alcohol they may not heed the label warnings and chose to drink while taking the Vicodin.  Both alcohol and Vicodin are highly addictive drugs, and a dangerous chemical dependency can develop.  Knowing how to help someone addicted to Vicodin and alcohol is key to their recovery.  If you or a loved one has developed a polydrug addiction to alcohol and Vicodin it is imperative to get professional addiction treatment as early as possible.  

What are the Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Vicodin?

Either of the two drugs, Vicodin or alcohol, can produce certain physical side effects that can contribute to respiratory failure and loss of consciousness.  Opioid medications are abused at record levels, causing an epidemic of deaths across the country in recent years.  Statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that approximately 35,000 deaths in 2016 were attributed to opioids.  Because Vicodin is an opioid it has the potential to have life threatening properties when misused.

In the 2010 DAWN report provided by the Centers for Disease Control that records emergency department visits, alcohol was found to be involved in 18.5% of opioid related hospital visits that year.  The report states, “Excessive alcohol consumption also accounts for a significant health burden and is common among groups that report high rates of prescription drug abuse.”

In addition, both alcohol and Vicodin impact the health of the liver.  Alcoholism is toxic to the liver and commonly associated with cirrhosis of the liver.  Because Vicodin contains acetaminophen, it, too, can damage the liver.  Understanding how to help someone addicted to Vicodin and alcohol is imperative to avoiding these dangerous outcomes.

About Vicodin Addiction

Vicodin addiction can happen innocently, as hydrocodone is a highly prescribed opioid analgesic to help manage pain after injury or a surgical procedure. Sometimes a patient may be slow to heal and require more than one refill of their Vicodin prescription. Without warning, as a result of the brain making adaptations to the daily dosing of this powerful opioid, the patient who was only seeking pain relief is now addicted to the drug.

Of course, Vicodin is also a popular drug of abuse. Recreational use of hydrocodone is very common, with street names of Norcos and Vics. The effects of Vicodin include feelings of euphoria and lightheadedness. Nearly 7 million Americans misuse this drug, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Signs of Vicodin addiction include the following:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Constricted pupils
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Being obsessed about obtaining Vicodin
  • Doctor shopping
  • Stealing the drug from family or friends
  • Try to stop but cannot
  • Prioritizing drug use above daily responsibilities
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop

About Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction represents the most common substance of abuse due to its availability and low cost. Approximately 15 million American adults struggle with an alcohol use disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse. Alcohol abuse and addiction can cause serious physical and mental health conditions, including death. About 88 million deaths are attributed to alcohol addiction each year.

Signs of alcohol addiction include the following:

  • Blackouts or short-term memory loss
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Neglecting work and family obligations
  • Drinking alone
  • Hiding alcohol, lying about how much alcohol consumed
  • Obsessed with obtaining alcohol
  • Looking for any excuse to drink
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Change in appearance, weight gain or loss, bloating
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Continue to abuse alcohol despite the negative consequences
  • Try to quit and cannot
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking

Side Effects of Alcohol and Vicodin

There are several serious complications that can arise from alcohol and Vicodin abuse, and both substances cause similar effects—repressing the respiratory system, which are compounded when both are used together.  These adverse effects may include:

  • Confusion
  • Memory impairment
  • Stomach distress
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Incoordination
  • Mood swings
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced respiratory rate
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Depression
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Death

Recognizing these symptoms is the best way to know how to help someone addicted to Vicodin and alcohol.

Treatment for a Polydrug Addiction Like Alcohol and Vicodin

Having a substance use disorder than involves more than one drug of abuse can complicate the effort to overcome the polydrug addiction. Both substances together can create a more serious clinical picture, and can present for serious health issues as well. Both alcohol and hydrocodone impact the brain in significant ways, which poses a more challenging treatment picture.

Obtaining treatment for a Vicodin and alcohol addiction should be a priority.  By seeking out a treatment program that specializes in treating polydrug addictions you will be accessing the expertise needed to effectively treat the substance use disorders.  Treatment will begin with a medical detox, where potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms can be monitored and managed by trained medical providers.  Medical detox may involve prescribing naltrexone or Suboxone for reducing the withdrawal symptoms and curbing cravings, better ensuring that the individual will get to the other side and enter active treatment.

During the active treatment phase of recovery the individual will be involved in several therapeutic activities that create a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan.  This includes:

Psychotherapy: receiving individual therapy with a clinical therapist, both in individual sessions and while participating in group counseling sessions facilitated by an addiction specialist. Involves the application of evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, contingency management, and dialectical behavior therapy .

Education: Clients recovering from a Vicodin and alcohol addiction will benefit from learning about the physiology and neurology of how addiction develops and alters brain structures. Classes will equip clients with recovery tools to access when confronting triggers or cravings, as well as involve making a relapse prevention plan.

Medication-assisted treatment: Medication management may be beneficial for some clients with the polydrug addiction. MAT involves using medication that helps clients become less responsive to the opioids and alcohol by blocking the receptors in the brain. This causes a decline in drug or alcohol cravings, which reduces the risk of relapse.

Recovery groups: Participation in a recovery community, such as SMART recovery, A.A. or N.A. can provide additional social support and accountability. These groups can offer opportunities to make new sober friendships, to gain a sponsor, and to become involved in service to others.

Complementary Therapies: participating in adjunct therapies that will enhance recovery, such as yoga, journaling, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), art therapy, equine therapy, aromatherapy, or meditation.

Solutions 4 Recovery Offers Treatment for an Alcohol and Vicodin Addiction

Solutions 4 Recovery offers customized drug and alcohol treatment plans that include treatment of a Vicodin and alcohol addiction.  Located in beautiful Dana Point, California, Solutions 4 Recovery can offer the solution you are searching for in how to help someone addicted to Vicodin and alcohol. Outside of treatment hours, individuals in the program can enjoy a multitude of activities offered locally, such as sport fishing, sailing, golf, tennis, jet skiing, and a fitness club with spa. For more information about our polydrug program for Vicodin and alcohol addiction, please contact Solutions 4 Recovery at  (888) 417-1874 today.