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Pills can be life-savers – until they aren’t anymore

Man playing tennis outside. Posted On
Posted By Dr. Blanche

This post is about my patient Seth, an ex-Vicodin abuser. 

My first encounter with Seth was a year ago after he came into my office. He complained that he had been feeling light-headed, anxious, drowsy, and was experiencing muscle pains. It wasn’t immediately evident to me back then, but with further conversations, I pegged a lot of these symptoms down to be the side effects of opium abuse. Seth later confessed to the fact that he had been abusing Vicodin drug.

Seth was an amateur college tennis player. He’d started taking Vicodin pills after he suffered an injury during a significant tennis trial tournament for amateurs. He visited the school clinic and was prescribed the drug as a pain reliever. 

After taking the Vicodin drug according to prescription, he still felt a bit of the pain, so he decided to take extra doses because he didn’t want to be disqualified due to injury. He was amazed at how quickly his pains vanished and the adrenaline that he played his next game with. It encouraged him to take a Vicodin pill every day for the remainder of the tournament.

Since oxycodone Vicodin and generic Vicodin are synthetic opioids, they can induce a feel-good sensation in the brain. This makes the tendency for dependency high. Seth continuously used Vicodin without prescription for the remainder of his matches until his body got accustomed to the high, and he needed to up the dose. He didn’t realize that he was becoming dependent until it turned to a full-blown addiction. His Vicodin addiction grew from taking the pill to snorting Vicodin. He later graduated to taking Vicodin and alcohol together for a stronger high. 

Soon enough, Seth started to exhibit addiction symptoms. He:

  • couldn’t stop the cravings for Vicodin and he continued to take it in large quantities even though he didn’t need it anymore 
  • preferred spending time alone, high on Vicodin rather than going out for social events 
  • started developing relationship problems and he started losing friends 
  • experienced a continually growing desire for more Vicodin as his body tolerance levels increased all the time 
  • started exhibiting Vicodin withdrawal symptoms such as muscle pains and a depressed heart rate whenever he’d been off Vicodin for a short while

Seth started having issues keeping up with classes, and his tennis training as his performances generally derailed. He would get agitated towards simple issues and often lost control of his temper. His health deteriorated drastically too, due to an improper diet that was a result of appetite loss – a side effect of the drug. Also, his habit of snorting Vicodin excessively soon impaired his breathing. Whenever he was out of cash, he would settle for a cheaper alternative in expired Vicodin. This resulted in an increased occurrence of restlessness and insomnia — some Vicodin side effects.

Prior to a tennis competition where he was to play as the defending champion, Seth had to undergo a drug test. Unfortunately, he’d used Vicodin hours before, and the half-life of Vicodin is up to 3.8hours. He failed the drug test, and his college suspended him from playing tennis. This singular act triggered him to seek treatment for his addiction. 

As expected, Seth struggled a lot with Vicodin withdrawal at the beginning of his rehab process. However, he got some of the best medical support and the addiction treatment programs that he passed through ranged from addiction detox to therapies, rehabilitation activities, moral support, and after-care. Medications such as Buprenorphine (used to release dopamine and relieve withdrawal pains) and Naltrexone (reduces cravings) were used to help him deal better with the addiction withdrawal symptoms. Now, he’s completed his treatment and is fit enough to get back to playing tennis after his suspension was lifted.

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