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How to Spot Vicodin Addiction Behavior in Friends and Loved Ones


How can you tell if a friend or a family member has an addiction to Vicodin? While addicts are often quite good at masking their drug abuse, there are some telltale signs you can look for if you suspect your loved one has a problem with opioids.

How Does A Vicodin Addiction Affect A Person’s Behavior?

Vicodin is a popular drug prescribed by doctor’s to treat moderate to severe pain, typically for patients recovering from surgery or with a terminal illness. Vicodin and other opioids operate by affecting the pleasure centers in our brains. They don’t take away the pain but rather alters how our mind perceives it.

Vicodin is made up of a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. The active agents in hydrocodone create large amounts of dopamine, which bind to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Dopamine is a protein responsible for creating feelings of calm, relaxation, and pleasure. When a person takes a dose of Vicodin, it sends a large amount of dopamine into their system, which binds to their opioid receptors and blocks out pain, replacing it with an intense rush of euphoria.

It’s this euphoric sensation that makes people crave more Vicodin. It’s a feeling that they will begin to believe, and that their brains will tell them, they cannot find anywhere else.

Because Vicodin is such a highly addictive drug, it is rather easy for someone to develop an addiction. Even those who use Vicodin as prescribed by their doctor can develop an addiction, although those who abuse the drug recreationally are far more likely.

Vicodin Addiction symptoms sets in over time, as the user develops a tolerance to the drug. A users brain and system will adapt to the drug and lessen its effects over time. This could cause a user to take a higher or more frequent dose to achieve the intense feelings they felt at first. This process of building a tolerance can build and build until the user is taking the drug in dangerous quantities, and may lead them to take the drug via dangerous methods, by crushing up the pills to snort or inject Vicodin to achieve a faster, more intense high.

At this point, addiction has set in, and the person may become dependent upon Vicodin to feel “normal.” Prolonged use of Vicodin will alter a person’s brain chemistry, which can trick them into thinking Vicodin is good for them. This is because when they stop taking the drug, symptoms of withdrawal will set in, which can be quite unpleasant. The cycle of addiction will make them think another dose is the only way to make these symptoms go away.

Vicodin withdrawal is inevitable, and one of the reasons it is such a dangerous drug to become addicted to. While Vicodin abusers might eventually go through some physical changes, these will typically take time to set in, and by that time they probably have a serious addiction. To catch the problem as early as you can, be on the lookout for these problematic behaviors that may point to a Vicodin addiction.

Using More Vicodin Than Prescribed Or For Other Reasons That Pain Relief

The first thing you can watch out for is if your family member starts using their prescribed Vicodin outside of their recommended dosage. If they crave more Vicodin, it could be a sign that a tolerance has been built and addiction is setting in.

If they are using Vicodin for any reason other than for pain relief, it may also be a sign of addiction. Vicodin is not intended for use to deal with stress or any other reason than pain relief. If they are making excuses for why they are taking more, it’s a sign that things are getting out of control.

Becoming Apathetic

The apathy that comes along with a Vicodin addiction plays a part in every other behavioral symptom. Simply put: an addict will no longer care about anything but getting high. Their relationships, work, hobbies, passions–nothing else will matter anymore. Over time, they will lose interest in everything else. This has a trickle-down effect that is dangerous to their well-being.

Shifting Priorities

The strong feelings of apathy that creep in during a Vicodin addiction will make them numb to their responsibilities. And the longer a person uses Vicodin, the more visual the effects of their drug abuse will be. Their painkiller addiction will eventually cause an overall shift in priorities.

Other important aspects of their life will slip by the wayside, even the most important of all, such as paying the bills. Having money to acquire more Vicodin will become more important than keeping the lights on. All aspects of an addict’s life may suffer, including their family relationships, work, school, and more. As addiction takes hold, Vicodin becomes all they need.

Strained Relationships With Family and Friends

While friendships certainly do come and go on their own, an opioid addict is likely to destroy lifelong friendships because of their behavior. You may notice them alienate their usual group of friends and begin to hang around a new group of people–generally those they use Vicodin with. They may ignore their relationships with their family as well.

They may even completely isolate themselves, as social situations can become difficult and stressful for addicts. Worse yet, if addiction gets severe, they may cause lasting damage to relationships by stealing from their family and friends to acquire more Vicodin. Their addiction may make them say or do things that may be difficult to forgive.

Growing Anxious

Developing an addiction to a drug like Vicodin can be very stressful and cause the user a lot of anxiety. A person who was very relaxed and easy going might become more anxious. They will seem more nervous than usual and worry about rather mundane, insignificant, everyday situations. This will be minor at first, but as their addiction grows stronger, they may develop a severe anxiety disorder, which could bring a slew of crippling symptoms along with it.

Mood Swings

Side effects of Vicodin can send addicts into intense mood swings, seemingly swapping emotions from moment to moment. During a high, the euphoria of the drug will make them seem overly cheerful. If they take a large dose, they could enter a stupor, being almost nonfunctional. If they come off their high, they might become depressed or even aggressive.

If you notice a person’s mood changing wildly and often, it may be a sign of a Vicodin addiction. They might be overly defensive or become aggressive when you ask about their Vicodin use.


An opioid addiction to Vicodin can cause some pretty irrational thoughts and behaviors, such as paranoia. Because of the guilt they feel for their addiction, an addict may start to believe that everyone is out to get them, even if you aren’t even aware of their addiction. They also might fear getting caught by family, friends, at school, or by law enforcement, and become increasingly sheltered because of their growing paranoia. In general, if a Vicodin addict is displaying some paranoia, you may notice the person becoming more withdrawn and secretive.

Doctor Shopping

Doctor shopping is a tactic addicts use to gain more prescriptions. If the addict runs out of Vicodin and their current doctor won’t prescribe them anymore, they may start to seek out other doctors to get more. If your loved one mentions switching doctors for unclear reasons, it might be a sign of doctor shopping.


When things come down to it, an addict will do whatever they have to do to get more Vicodin. This could involve stealing the drug, or stealing money to acquire more. Addiction can often grow so strong that the addict will even steal from their own family. If you notice your prescriptions missing pills or things start missing from your home that has value, your family member might be stealing from you to acquire drugs.

Trouble With Finances

A Vicodin addiction will eventually start to affect an addict’s finances. As their tolerance and need for the drug grow, they will require more. Pay attention to your loved one’s accounts to see if their funds start dwindling. This could point to addictive behavior. On the other hand, if their finances start going up or you see large amounts of cash, they might be acquiring the drugs for sale. Either behavior can have big consequences.

Struggles With Work Or School

Addicts will frequently neglect their work responsibilities or schoolwork. They may frequently call in sick or be late. A formerly reliable employee or good student may become a liability. They may even lose their job or drop out of school. This shows that their addiction is starting to take over their life.

Withdrawing From Social Activities

Vicodin addiction may cause severe social anxiety and make the user want to avoid all social situations. They may abandon their friends and shy away from family events. They may even quit their sports team or any clubs they are involved with. Their only interaction will be with their drugs.

Ignoring Hygiene

Family, friends, and responsibilities may not be the only thing an addict neglects. Eventually, they may stop taking care of themselves as well. The apathy can spread so far that they won’t even care about their personal appearance, and neglect to do simple things like bathe, brush their hair or brush their teeth. If you notice hygiene being neglected, it could be yet another sign of a Vicodin addiction.

Confusion and Problems With Memory

Vicodin also affects the part of the brain that controls cognition and memory. This can cause an addict to seem more confused than usual, and become much more forgetful. Important dates will come and go without them noticing, and they will begin to forget responsibilities as well. Eventually, an addiction can take its toll and have lasting effects on old memories that may never be recovered. Addicts also may not remember things they do while they are high.

An Inability To Focus

Vicodin long term effects impact on the brain will also make it difficult for an addict to focus. It’s hard for them to maintain their attention on one thing while so many chemicals are going to work in their brains.

Becoming Obsessed With Obtaining More Vicodin

As we mentioned, when addiction reaches a certain level, the only thing the person will care about is scoring their next fix. This can lead to some of the other behaviors listed here, mainly damaging relationships, as their need will lead them to take drastic means to acquire drugs. This could mean buying the drug on the streets or, when their money supply runs out, stealing from their family to acquire more. Their obsession with acquiring more Vicodin will be their sole driving force in life.

Any of these behavioral changes can point to an addiction to Vicodin. While it may be easy to mask for a while, eventually, addicts will exhibit some or many of these behaviors. Hopefully, for yours and your family’s sake, you can notice these behaviors early and confront your family member about their addiction and get them the help they need.

Addiction to a drug like Vicodin will be difficult to recover from, but having a strong support system can go a long way toward a successful recovery.

For those closest to the addict, seeing the destruction in the addict’s life and the lives of those around them that meth abuse is causing can be extremely difficult. It is important to remember that the sooner you can recognize the behavioral signs of Vicodin addiction and encourage your loved one to seek help, the better their chances of a successful recovery will be. Luminance Recovery is a rehab in Orange County that can help you or a loved one overcome the chains of Vicodin addiction. Call us today to learn about our holistic approach to addiction treatment.

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