January 30, 2009, Newsletter Issue #220: Vicodin: A Silent Culprit

Tip of the Week

Vicodin is the brand name for hydrocodone, a combination of codeine (an opiate) and acetaminophen (a common non-prescription painkiller). Like all opiates, it can be addictive, yet it is commonly prescribed for moderate pain conditions including headaches, arthritis, and chronic pain after injuries.

Some patients run into trouble when they heal from the original pain for which the drug was prescribed, then save leftover pills and self-prescribe them. Others require addictive levels of the drug to treat a legitimate medical condition, and don't get help from their physicians in weaning themselves off Vicodin afterward.

Because acetaminophen can cause liver damage, Vicodin addiction poses this risk as well as all the other risks associated with opiate abuse. Vicodin treatment may be managed by a physician on an outpatient basis, but severe cases will require standard opiate rehab.

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