Most prescription medications carry some risks, even at doses recommended by a doctor.
Vicodin is a narcotic painkiller and is riskier than many other medications. All narcotics are potentially addictive and fighting drug addiction is a long and difficult battle. Narcotics can also produce dangerous side effects and in extreme cases can be fatal in the event of an overdose.
If you are being prescribed Vicodin, make sure you understand what this drug is and how risky it can be. Always talk to your doctor when you have concerns about a new medication.
What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a brand name for a painkiller combination that is available only as a prescription. The combination includes the narcotic, opioid painkiller hydrocodone, as well as the over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen. Hydrocodone, until very recently, was only available as a combination because of its high potential for abuse and addiction. Most formulations combine hydrocodone with acetaminophen. Vicodin is prescribed mostly for severe pain, but is also sometimes used as a cough suppressant.
The Side Effects of Vicodin
Vicodin is a potent painkiller and it is effective at helping people cope with severe pain. However, it is not a perfect medication and it can cause some uncomfortable and even serious side effects. If you ever experience side effects with any prescription drug, you should tell your doctor. You may need to use a different medication or have your dosage changed.
For Vicodin, common side effects include constipation, vomiting, nausea, drowsiness or dizziness, light-headedness and difficulty thinking, mood swings, a dry throat, anxiety and nervousness, trouble urinating, and an itchy rash. Side effects that may require emergency treatment include irregular and slow breathing and a tight feeling in the chest. Overdose is possible and what constitutes a lethal dose of Vicodin varies by individual.
Another potentially very serious side effect of Vicodin is addiction. Not everyone who takes this drug will become addicted, but it is a possibility. You can reduce your chances of becoming dependent on Vicodin by taking it only as instructed by your doctor. Because this drug causes a pleasant feeling, many people are tempted to abuse it and use it more often, in larger doses, and for a longer period of time than is recommended.
Not only is it important to take your prescription as directed, it is also crucial that you keep your medication away from others. Many people who abuse prescriptions get access to them by stealing from friends and family. Keep your Vicodin safely stored to avoid anyone misusing it.
Mixing Vicodin with Alcohol
Mixing alcohol with prescription drugs is always risky. Alcohol and Vicodin is a particularly dangerous combination and one that should always be avoided. One reason the combination is potentially so harmful is that each substance produces similar side effects. If you combine them, these effects will be amplified. When you combine acetaminophen with alcohol, the risk of liver damage is especially high.
Safely Getting the Benefits of Medication
Vicodin can be used responsibly and safely, but it also carries risks and dangers. Follow your doctors’ instructions, keep your prescriptions out of the hands of others and get help if you experience any serious side effects. If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to get the benefits of your medication without suffering any harm.