Term Paper: Addictive Nature of Vicodin

Pages: 8 (2516 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Drugs  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] After detox, the patient participates in a series of workshops aimed at increasing sociability, effective communication, stress management and reassertion of values and ethics. The clinic claims a 78% success rate.

Other recovery centers hospitalize the patient during detox, which is supervised by a doctor who administers drugs if needed. A controversial approach is known as "rapid detox." The patient is sedated, thus sleeping through the withdrawal period. Drugs are administered to break the opiate's connection to the brain; a second drug, a narcotic antagonist known as Naltrexone, blocks the cravings. The procedure takes only two days, but costs up to $10,000, an expense not covered by health insurance. While some patients and doctors swear by this procedure, other medical professionals question its efficacy and safety. A New Jersey rapid detox facility had seven patients die, out of the 2350 treated over a seven-year period.

Other centers recommend a medical detox, with drugs to alleviate the addict's discomfort as he or she undergoes withdrawal. They also see the value of Natrexone once detox is over, as it not only effectively blocks the craving for and effects of Vicodin but also is not addictive or mood-altering in itself. It works by blocking the nervous-system proteins that act as opiate receptors; a patient taking an opiate while on Natrexone will not experience a high. Naltrexone is taken for six months to one year after detox, either orally or through a pellet inserted in the abdomen, which dispenses medication for six weeks at a time.

By contrast, methadone, which for many years has been used to treat heroin addiction, can create its own dependency. The heroin user merely trades one addiction for another. Methadone is normally dispensed at clinics and serves a much less affluent sector of society than the average Vicodin-dependent patient. These public and private clinics tend to have long waiting lists.

Most physicians stress the need for psychological counseling to prevent re-addiction. In many cases, the prognosis for Vicodin addicts is much more hopeful than that of those suffering from dependence on other drugs. Many have strong, stable support systems and are balanced individuals who slipped into chemical dependency without appreciating their danger or without consciously espousing a criminal mentality. In some circles, Vicodin is seen as a "boomer" drug, and addiction to it a result of boomers' well-publicized impatience with discomfort or pain. Socially it is at the opposite end of the spectrum from crack cocaine, and if treated in time, can be defeated with little risk of recidivism.

Treatment is least effective when the patient experiences severe chronic pain. Breaking the addiction to Vicodin essentially leaves the sufferer back where he or she started. There are few medications as effective in relieving acute pain; the patient must either cope with on-going agony, alleviated only moderately by less effective drugs, or go back on Vicodin and risk becoming addicted all over again.

Effects on society are relatively mild as drug addictions go. Health plans may suffer financial abuse, and taxpayers' dollars may be wasted. Employers may incur additional sick pay expenses and absenteeism. However, most Vicodin addicts are far from being violent criminals; prescription fraud is usually their crime of choice. The typical addict is affluent or at least middle-class, and mature.

Any addiction, however, is a serious matter with drastic consequences on the health of the abuser and on his or her relationships with friends and family. Although the Vicodin addict may slip into dependency without consciously making a choice to abuse the medication, inevitably he or she will begin to practice deceit to cover up the addiction and to obtain more pills. After detox and treatment, the recovered addict must now devote time and energy to rebuilding trust and re-forging damaged relationships. He or she must also look within the self to understand and forgive the ethical breaches that occurred.

The medical profession is engaged in studying the enigma of Vicodin: its enormous value and its dangers. Having sworn to alleviate suffering, they must ensure that by doing so, they do not expose the patient to a different type of misery, one that can lead to an agonizing death. It is an ethical as well as a medical dilemma, and the possibility of a rapid-detox "quick fix" raises additional disturbing implications regarding the recreational use of a dangerous drug, the cure to which is available only to the wealthy. The Vicodin habit is a paradox: cheap to obtain, expensive to lose.

Works Cited

Addicted to Vicodin." Extra, The Waismann Institute in the News #08. March 15, 2001. http://www.methadone-detox.com/vicodin_addiction_extra.html[November 10, 2002].

Associated Press article, Naples News, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2001. "Deaths from abuse of OxyContin, hydrocodone skyrocketing. http://www.naplesnews.come/01/11/florida/d713145a.htm[November 10, 2002].

Costello, Daniel. "Clean and Sober in 48 Hours?." LA Times, October 28, 2002.

Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University, findings reported in Time article, March 19, 2001. http://www.jointogether.org/plugin.jtml?siteID=iprc&p=1&Tab=News&Object_ID=266437.[November 10, 2002].

Mitka, Mike. "Abuse of Prescription Drugs: Is a Patient Ailing or Addicted?." In Medical News and Perspectives, American Medical Association, Vol. 283, No. 9. March 1, 2000.

Narconon Clinic, Southern California Drug Rehab. http://www.narconon-stonehawk.com/vicodin-faq.html[November 9, 2002].

Oldenburg, Ann. "Friends' Star's Addiction to Vicodin Is the Latest Painful Hollywood Vice." In USA Today, Arlington, VA, March 8, 2001.

Additional Internet Sites:

http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/druginfo/narcotics.html[November 10, 2002]. http://www.erowid.org/pharms/hydrocodone/hydrocodone_effects.shtml[November 9, 2002]. http://www.healthsquare.com/pdrfg/pd/monos/vicodin.htm[November 9, 2002]. http://www.nationalhotline.org/vicodin-cont.html[November 10, 2002]. http://www.oxyabusekills.com/Vicodin.html[November 10, 2002]. http://www.painlab.com/painkillers_&_addiction.htm[November 10, 2002]. http://www.streetdrugs.org/vicodin.htm[November 10, 2002]. http://www.vicodin-addiction.com[November 9, 2002].

Indiana Prevention Resource Center, Indiana University. http://www.oxyabusekills.com/Vicodin.html. http://www.vicodin-addiction.com.

Addicted to Vicodin," Extra, March 15, 2001. The Waismann Institute in the News #08, March 15, 2001.

Addicted To Vicodin," Ibid. http://www.painlab.com/painkillers_&_addiction.htm.

Narconon, Southern California Drug Rehab. http://www.nationalhotline.org/vicodin-cont.html.

Costello, Daniel, "Clean and Sober in 48 Hours?" (LA Times, Oct. 28, 2002). [END OF PREVIEW]

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