Why Is Vicodin Addictive?
Beyond the side effects mentioned above, another adverse effect of Vicodin is that it comes with a potential for misuse and addiction. Vicodin is addictive because opioid medications can make people feel extremely relaxed or high. This can lead to repeated misuse of drugs like Vicodin.
When people repeatedly misuse Vicodin, either by taking larger doses than prescribed or using it for non-medical purposes, they place themselves at risk of addiction. They may develop a tolerance, meaning they need larger quantities of Vicodin to achieve the same desired effects. With tolerance also comes a risk of dependence, which means that people will experience uncomfortable withdrawal side effects when they stop using Vicodin.
Vicodin misuse statistics demonstrate just how addictive this type of drug can be. According to a 2020 survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 9.3 million people aged 12 and older had misused prescription pain medications like Vicodin within the past year. Overall, 3.3 percent of Americans misused pain medications, but the rate of misuse was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25, of whom 4.1 percent misused painkillers.
Vicodin vs. Alcohol
One of the reasons that mixing Vicodin and alcohol is so dangerous is that both substances act as central nervous system depressants. This means that they slow activity in the nervous system and can produce feelings like sedation.
While alcohol and Vicodin are both central nervous system depressants, there are some differences between the two substances. Alcohol’s active ingredient, ethanol, contributes to the depressant effects by stimulating the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which slows activity in the nervous system and produces a calming effect. Over time, the body becomes tolerant to this calming effect, and a person must consume more and more alcohol to feel relaxed.
Opioid drugs like Vicodin, on the other hand, stimulate the brain’s opioid receptors, which produces a pain-relieving effect. When activated, opioid receptors also cause the body to release large amounts of dopamine, which creates a pleasurable effect and encourages people to keep using opioids.
Can You Mix Vicodin and Alcohol?
Hydrocodone mixed with alcohol can have dangerous interaction effects, as both substances are central nervous system depressants. For this reason, Vicodin and alcohol should not be taken together.
Dangers of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol
Vicodin and alcohol overdose is one of the main dangers of mixing these two substances. Opioid overdoses are often the result of respiratory depression. Since alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant, mixing Vicodin and alcohol can make respiratory depression worse. Ultimately, this can lead to a potentially fatal overdose. Furthermore, the combination of alcohol and Vicodin can lead to overdoses with lower quantities of opioids than would normally result in an overdose.
Effects of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol
There are additional side effects of combining Vicodin and alcohol, beyond the risk of overdose. Since both substances are central nervous system depressants, using the two together intensifies the depressant effect and results in the following side effects:
- Lack of coordination
These side effects can make a person more prone to injuries and accidents from falls or motor vehicle crashes.
Long-Term Effects of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol
Over time, mixing Vicodin and alcohol can lead to serious consequences, including addiction to both substances. You may also experience negative side effects related to substance misuse.
Since the combination of alcohol and Vicodin increases the risk of overdose, long-term use of these substances is linked to serious physical consequences. Beyond death from overdose, people may experience brain damage from lack of oxygen during an overdose.
The main psychological effects associated with long-term use of alcohol and Vicodin involve factors related to addiction. Research suggests that using both substances together leads to co-addiction, which means that cravings for one substance can lead to cravings for the other as well.
When alcohol and Vicodin are mixed, the pleasure or high associated with the substances is more intense than when either substance is used on its own. This can make it even more difficult to stop using Vicodin and alcohol.
Long-term use of both substances can also lead to mental health problems, including depression.
Signs of Vicodin and Alcohol Addiction
When someone develops an addiction to a substance like Vicodin or alcohol, they are diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Some general signs of a substance use disorder are as follows:
- Using substances in risky situations, such as driving while under the influence
- Continuing to use substances, even when they cause a health problem or make an existing health condition worse
- Showing withdrawal symptoms when not using the substance
- Developing a tolerance, so that larger amounts of the substance are needed to achieve the same effects
- Strong cravings for the substance
- Being unable to cut back on substance use, even when there is a strong desire to do so
- Spending a significant amount of time using the substance
- Giving up other activities in favor of substance misuse
- Continuing to use drugs even when it causes problems with functioning at work, school, or in family life
In summary, a person who is addicted to both Vicodin and alcohol will continue to use both substances, even when substance misuse causes serious consequences. A person may continue to mix the two substances, even when it results in overdoses or other health problems. They may become so fixated on using alcohol and Vicodin that they give up all other hobbies or begin to neglect their families.