Vicodin is a branded synthetic prescription opioid that contains hydrocodone and the pain reliever, acetaminophen (Tylenol). This same formula is also branded as Lortab and Norco.
It is most commonly used for its analgesic effects to treat severe to moderate chronic pain or after surgical or dental procedures.
However, because hydrocodone works to elevate dopamine activity in the brain, the resulting euphoria can be addictive. Many people become addicted to this central nervous system (CNS) depressant and overuse pills.
People who seek a more intense high may misuse the pills by plugging or crushing and snorting the drug.
Why Do People Snort Vicodin?
Prescription opioids like Percocet, Oxycontin, and Vicodin are popular drugs of abuse. Snorting these drugs will produce a faster, more intense high than when ingested orally.
The crushed drug is easily absorbed through the blood vessels in the nose and reaches the brain quickly. This intranasal method is considered by many to be safer than smoking or injecting crushed (and diluted) prescription opioids — but any method of taking pills other than orally cannot be considered safe.
Side Effects Of Snorting Vicodin
When a person abuses opioids because of physical dependence or to feel high, there are risks and side effects. In both the long-term and short-term, snorting drugs like Vicodin can produce many unpleasant side effects.
Physical Effects Of Snorting Drugs
People whose drug use includes nasal ingestion of any drug may cause physical damage. Snorting Vicodin may impact the respiratory system and nasal tissues.
Snorting drugs may cause:
- nose bleeds
- facial pain and swelling
- ear pain
- trouble swallowing
- runny nose or congestion
- hoarse voice
- throat damage
- mouth ulcers
- damage to the nasal septum and mucous membranes
General Side Effects Of Vicodin Use
Even when used as directed, Vicodin carries many unwanted side effects. These side effects may be worsened when the drug is abused by taking too much or by snorting crushed pills.
Side effects that include respiratory depression and heart failure may be complicated if Vicodin is used alongside benzodiazepines or alcohol.
Some side effects include:
- slowed or irregular breathing
- trouble urinating
- clouded thinking
- anxiety and depression
- muscle stiffness
- chest tightness
- nausea and vomiting
- mood swings
- dry throat
- difficulty urinating
- itching and rash
- narrowed pupils
- hallucinations and paranoia
Risks Of Snorting Vicodin
Beyond the general side effects of Vicodin use, there are many dangers associated with prolonged or intense substance abuse involving prescription opioids.
Most notable is the risk of addiction and withdrawal symptoms that may lead to seeking stronger street-level opioids like fentanyl or heroin. Other risks can include organ damage.
Vicodin Addiction And Withdrawal
Continued use of Vicodin or other prescription painkillers may cause tolerance to build. Using opioids regularly and in increased volume can lead to physical and emotional dependence or addiction.
Physical dependence on opioids can make the body produce strong, negative reactions whenever the substance is not present in the body. Physical dependence can produce dangerous withdrawal symptoms due to drug addiction that can be best managed in a controlled rehab environment.
These strong withdrawal symptoms may happen after suddenly stopping drug use after prolonged or intense periods of Vicodin intake. A person that is trying to stop using an opioid may relapse from sobriety because of the intensity of symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- increased heart rate and blood pressure
- feelings of panic
- body pain
- muscle spasms and twitches
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Popular treatment methods for managing these withdrawal symptoms include drugs that either activate or attach to opioid receptors or block opioid receptors from functioning.
Full opioid agonists like methadone allow for a taper off of heavier narcotics. Partial agonists typically contain buprenorphine, which has a limit to felt effects. It can be combined with naloxone as branded Suboxone, which prevents abuse.
Opioid antagonists like naltrexone (Vivitrol) keep a person that is undergoing withdrawals from feeling the effects of opioids if they relapse and use the substance. However, if a person stops naltrexone, their risk of overdose increases rapidly, since their tolerance will have substantially changed.
Risk Of Vicodin Overdose
Whenever an opioid like Vicodin is used to excess, abused in combination with other depressants, or ingested through methods like nasal insufflation, there is an increased risk of overdose.
Snorting Vicodin creates an intense, but shorter high and many people will snort more of the drug or take other drugs to prolong the feelings of wellbeing.
Overdose in these cases can occur because while the effects of the drug are no longer felt, the drugs have not been fully processed by the system. Intake of additional Vicodin, benzos, or alcohol may cause the central nervous system to slow down excessively.
Using too much Vicodin through snorting or other forms of abuse could lead to overdose symptoms like:
- cardiac arrest
- circulatory system collapse
- unconsciousness and coma
- extreme drowsiness
- shallow or irregular breathing
- low blood pressure
- slowed heart rate
- narrow or widened pupils
- cold, clammy skin
- blue lips, fingernails, or skin
Acetaminophen taken in large doses may cause additional overdose symptoms that combine with the general symptoms of an opioid overdose.
These symptoms may result in:
- vomiting and nausea
- liver damage and abdominal pain
- problems with effective blood clotting
- extreme sweating
Find Treatment For Snorting Vicodin
Opioid abuse and addiction make life difficult. If you or a loved one is missing out on a normal life because of a substance use disorder involving drugs like Vicodin, then consider getting help. We have trained treatment specialists that can help you find the best treatment options for your needs.
Whether you may benefit from inpatient detox and rehab centers or outpatient behavioral therapy, we can help you begin a sober life. Please call us today to take your first step towards a better future.Article Sources
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse
- National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens — Prescription Pain Medications: Opioids
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Hydrocodone Combination Products