Vicodin contains a semi-synthetic opioid prescription drug. It is used to help manage moderate to severe pain, typically experienced after major surgery or from painful injuries. The drug is also commonly prescribed for individuals who suffer from other forms of chronic pain, although using opioids for chronic, non-cancer pain is currently not generally recommended. Vicodin comes in tablet form with three commercial dosages which are meant to be taken orally. These dosages include:
- Hydrocodone 5 mg with acetaminophen 300 mg
- Hydrocodone 7.5 mg with acetaminophen 300 mg (Vicodin ES)
- Hydrocodone 10 mg with acetaminophen 300 mg (Vicodin HP)
The danger associated with excessive use of Vicodin is the risk of overdose. Hydrocodone is used to alter a person’s perception of pain and acetaminophen is used as a pain-killer. Additionally, while acetaminophen itself is considered to be non-addictive, too much of it can cause liver damage. Misuse of Vicodin, beyond what is prescribed by a physician, is a concern as there is a possibility for liver failure, addiction, dependence and overdose.
When taken orally, Vicodin needs to be dissolved, absorbed, and processed by a person’s body before the drug can make its way to the brain and begin to take effect. The typical time for this process to happen is within 15 minutes, with peak effects occurring in about one hour.
However, when people abuse the drug they often seek out other methods of consumption that deliver the substance more quickly to the brain. Often, people either smoke Vicodin or shoot it into their veins. Before a person can introduce Vicodin into their system by either of these means, the tablets need to be crushed or dissolved into a solution.
Vicodin can be smoked once it is in a crushed form, typically by heating it on tinfoil and then inhaling it. Smoking Vicodin provides a quicker means for the drug to affect the brain as it allows passage directly to the bloodstream via the nasal passage and lungs.
However, because the onset of the drug is quicker when it is smoked, the effects will not last as long as when it’s taken orally. When smoking the drug, additional substances like binders and fillers that are used in creating the tablet are inhaled as well. Since the body does not absorb these chemicals, this method is especially dangerous and damages the body.
Some people try other things to enhance their experience when smoking Vicodin, like combining it with marijuana. This can be dangerous as this combination impairs motor skills and judgment and can impact normal breathing.
As with Vicodin that is prepared for smoking, the process of injecting the drug into the veins begins with crushing the drug into a powder. The powder is then dissolved in water, resulting in a solution that can be injected into a vein, muscle, or other location just below the skin.
The dangers of shooting Vicodin are similar to those of smoking the drug. However, the risk of infection is much higher when injecting Vicodin. Someone who injects Vicodin may contract bacterial infections or viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
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