Vicodin: Prescription Drug Abuse & Testing
Vicodin is a derivative of opium, which also used to manufacture heroin. It is the most widely known brand name for a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Some of its generic equivalents include brand names Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Panacet and Zydone.
Vicodin is one of the most widely prescribed opiate medications for treatment of moderate to severe pain in injury, illness, surgery or a chronic condition across the globe. Overall, it has been reported as an effective, well tolerated opioid for analgesic purposes. It is quite inexpensive, with a mild side effects profile. It is one of the most favored prescribed pain relievers as allergic reactions are highly unlikely with Vicodin.
It is estimated that in 1999, 4 million people were using prescription drugs non-medically and out of these 4 million, 2.6 million misused pain relievers the most common of which is Vicodin. In 2000, the National Institute on Drug Abuse listed Vicodin as an emerging recreational drug. Its use has risen steadily each year, and has now achieved the status of no longer being emerging. Vicodin has become one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs. In 2006, USA Today reported that more emergency room visits are made by Vicodin and other prescription drugs abusers than by all other illicit drug abusers combined.
The reason pain killers like Vicodin are attractive to some people is because they provide a considerable feeling of well-being as users can still function relatively normally in their jobs and personal lives for many years.
Effects of Vicodin Abuse:
Some of the common side effects of Vicodin abuse include confusion, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, redness of the face, and temporary changes in vision or mood, along with infrequent constipation. These effects can be subdued by drinking a lot of water and consuming fiber rich foods on daily basis.
Over a period of time, effects of Vicodin abuse become more serious and more damaging. There may be cardiac arrhythmia leading to speeding up or slowing down of the heart rate. As Vicodin use grows, its effects can be characterized by blurred vision, hallucinations, and severe confusion. As with other opioids, chances of respiratory depression remain ever increasing with the use of Vicodin.
Vicodin may interact with many other drugs if taken in conjunction, like, various sedatives, tranquilizers, antidepressants, other analgesics, antihistamines, anti-anxiety & anti-spasmodic drugs to name a few. Because of this high potential for drug interactions, it is highly recommended to avoid alcohol, which can increase drowsiness and dizziness, and may cause damage to the liver, and other medications containing acetaminophen.
As with other Opiate drugs, Vicodin withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, muscle pain, bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, goose bumps, involuntary leg movements, watery eyes, runny nose, loss of appetite, irritability, panic, nausea, chills & sweating to name a few.
When consumed, some amount of Vicodin remains unchanged in the body while rest of it is metabolized to different secondary products called metabolites. A diverse array of techniques is available nowadays to detect these unchanged Vicodin or Vicodin metabolites, such as:
- Blood sampling for Vicodin/metabolite testing
- Urine based Vicodin/metabolite testing
- Hair follicle based Vicodin/metabolite detection
- GC/MS based Vicodin/metabolite detection
- Vicodin/metabolite-specific antibody based diagnostic kits
GC/MS or Antibody based screening can be done on any of the blood, urine or hair follicle samples. Some companies have also come out with drug screening kits for home use which can be used without any previous expertise.