5 Signs You Need Help

vicodin addiction signs and symptoms

It’s no secret that people hide their problems, especially a problem like addiction. But why do humans feel compelled to keep this secret from others and even themselves.

One study of the way addicts view themselves shows a link between poor self-awareness and substance use. When people actively using drugs were compared with former addicts who were sober, the active drug users had more trouble identifying problems. Substance users showed reduced ability using executive brain functions, which control a person’s ability to focus, control impulses, remember facts and events and solve problems.[1]

Someone with an addiction keeps taking drugs even when negative things start happening. An addition to Vicodin or other pain relievers is even easier to justify because doctors prescribe the drug. As a result, substance users find it easy to justify the current situation, but hard to make a change. Even when the good things about their lives slowly unravel, they may think they deserve the pain because they feel guilty about things they’ve done. Drugs and alcohol change the brain in such a way that the compulsion for substances is the only important thing in a person’s life.[2]

For someone who wonders about the seriousness of his drug use there are several red flags to consider. The following five signs show it’s time to take substance use seriously:

1. Health Problems Develop

Vicodin use takes an obvious toll on health. An intense focus on drug use means daily living needs take a back seat leading to the following health problems:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Accidental injuries
  • Stomach problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue and chronic low energy levels

When a person feels physically or emotionally sick, but can’t stay sober, it’s time for treatment.[3]

2. Negative Consequences Pile Up

Trouble at work or school because of substance abuse is another sign someone needs help. One study estimates U.S. employees lose billions every year because of opiate use – $11.2 billion in a year because of premature death and $7.9 billion because of lost wages or lost jobs.[4] If left untreated, addiction leads to job loss, chronic unemployment, imprisonment and homelessness. When drug use affects job performance or grades, it’s time to get help.

3. Poor Choices Bring Legal Problems, Guilt

People with addictions often engage in illegal activities or do things against their personal values. Addiction is a compulsive, chronic disease that makes someone a stranger to himself and his loved ones. One of the primary goals of treatment is to restore a sense of self-confidence by helping patients rediscover the people and things that really matter to them.

4. Relationships are Endangered, Damaged

People who live to take opiates endanger their relationships with a spouse, partner or children in order to keep using. Every day, marriages and families are destroyed by addiction. Child abuse and neglect are three to four times more common in households where parents misuse drugs or alcohol.[5] The tragedy of addiction is that it overshadows everything in life — even people who mean the most to an addict.

5. Poor Quality of Life

People addicted to alcohol or drugs don’t get the nutrition and sleep they need to be healthy. Using substances becomes more important than staying healthy, plus many substances, like alcohol, keep the body from retaining vitamins and minerals. In addition to an unhealthy lifestyle, drug use puts a person at risk of contracting infectious diseases. Someone may develop HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis by sharing needles or through unsafe sexual contact.[6]

Getting Help that Works

People with all kinds of addictions want to ignore signs of the disease. One recovery model is the Stages of Change, which outlines how an addicted person feels about drug use and sobriety. For example, indecision and denial are common among people confronting an addiction. A patient may progress from not thinking about change to actually shifting his behavior with the help of a therapist who works to build trust between the two.[7]

Addiction Treatment at The Canyon

Our intensive residential treatment program in Malibu, California, and our innovative outpatient center in Santa Monica, offer personalized programs for Vicodin abuse. Even if you or you’re loved one isn’t sure about the need for treatment, we encourage you to call us today for a confidential discussion.


[1] Verdejo-García, Antonio & Pérez-García, Miguel (2008). Substance abusers' self-awareness of the neurobehavioral consequences of addiction. Psychiatry Research. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2017 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165178106002174.

[2] National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2016). What is addiction? Understanding Drug Use and Addiction. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2017 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction.

[3] NIDA. (2012). Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2017 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/medical-consequences-drug-abuse.

[4] Birnbaum, Howard G.; White, Alan G.; Schiller, Matt; Waldman, Tracy;

Cleveland, Jody M. & Roland, Carl L. (2011). Societal Costs of Prescription Opioid Abuse, Dependence, and Misuse in the United States. Pain Medicine. Retrieved Feb. 23, 2017 from http://www.asam.org/docs/advocacy/societal-costs-of-prescription-opioid-abuse-dependence-and-misuse-in-the-united-states.pdf.

[5] The National Center on Addiction and Substance Use. (2005). Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the American Family: Parents who Use Illegal Drugs, Abuse Alcohol & Smoke Endanger Half the Nation’s Children. Retrieved Feb. 23, 2017 from http://www.centeronaddiction.org/newsroom/press-releases/2005-family-matters-substance-abuse-and-american-family.

[6] NIDA. (2014). Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations - A Research-Based Guide. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2017 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-abuse-treatment-criminal-justice-populations/principles.

[7] Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (n.d.). A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2017 from http://www.csam-asam.org/sites/default/files/pdf/misc/StagesofChange.pdf.