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Adirondackwannabe's avatar

What do you know about norcos (acetaminophen and hydrocodone) addiction and how can you help someone deal with this?

Asked by Adirondackwannabe (32325 points ) October 18th, 2012

I know someone that has been taking these for years for chronic pain and it looks like he’s hooked on them. I just found out from his mother that he’s now getting them from two different doctors. His mom is going crazy trying to help him but he’s not helping right now. What can we do to address his condition and is there anything else to watch out for? He’s a decent guy other than the pills, so we want to try.

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20 Answers

nicole29's avatar

I (unfortunately) have insight on this matter from two different perspectives.

As a 4th year pharmacy student, I can tell you how incredibly addictive these opiate analgesics (anything with oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.) are… even to wonderful people, who you would never think of as “drug addicts.” Often, when seeking treatment for addiction, they prescribe Suboxone to “wean” abusers off of the drug (much like Methadone is used with heroin), but many people are skeptical of this, as it is now being abused, also.

As someone who had a sibling in this situation, I know that there is really not much you can do for the person, until he WANTS help. As with any addiction, you really can’t force someone. My mother tried everything with my brother, for years… short of actually calling the police on him herself.. and it came close to that. He finally went to inpatient rehab (which is so booked with people waiting to get help with opiate-abuse, that it is unreal, and sad) and they put him on Suboxone. He was on it for over a year, which is longer than the recommended duration, and we think that he was still abusing opiates during this time. It wasn’t until he was in a serious accident, and hospitalized (immobile for weeks) that we think he actually got clean (solely because he could not get out to get any). I only tell you this saga to show how real, and how difficult this is to treat. The first step will be difficult though. Addiction does scary things to people – as obtaining the drug often becomes their sole purpose. Lying, stealing, making excuses… all things to look out for. I had to lock up my possessions in my own house, while I lived at home. Sweetest brother ever, but stole many things from me, including a lot of cash.

So, I guess just try to talk to him about it. Sounds like he was innocently hooked, and I’m sure he doesn’t want it to progress any further. Try to get him into inpatient rehab, and hopefully into a program that has a method other than suboxone for treating this. It will take a lot of group counseling and support to get over the mental (habitual) portion of addiction.

Best of luck – it’s a very difficult position to be in. Just remember that he isn’t really himself right now, and try to be patient, but firm with him when recommending that he get help to get his life back on track. No one WANTS to be addicted.

Makes me sick, as someone going into this profession, how the medical professionals hand this out like candy, and hook innocent people.

Coloma's avatar

A friends 26 yr. old son was in a bad motorcycle wreck about 5 years ago which shattered his face and collapsed his sinuses. He underwent several surgeries and lost his sense of smell, had chronic pain and sinus infections. It was awful! He became addicted to Oxycontin when it was still fairly new on the market and went from a really together young guy working towards his helicopter pilots license to become a medicoptor pilot to stealing from his parents, writing bad checks, kiping their credit and atm cards and in general a complete mess.

They finally, at their wits end kicked him out and he managed to quit the drugs and get it together after awhile again, but it was a very rocky few years.
Thing is, what can REALLY be done for those with chronic pain, and while I am not, in anyway, an advocate of substance abuse, what alternatives really exist?
A couple of Advil is not going to squelch chronic, severe pain.

There are no easy answers to this sort of situation. Pain is debilitating and so are drugs. Double edged sword that many find themselves impaled on.

FutureMemory's avatar

Kiping? Is that a slang word I’m not familiar with?

Coloma's avatar

@FutureMemory Haha, I tend to invent words at times. “Kiping” is like “swiping” only not quite. lol My daughter cracked me up yesterday when she said a dead animal she saw had been “jerkified.” haha

jca's avatar

The three times in my life I had surgery, I was prescribed painkillers (plus for a few dental treatments). Of those three occasions, I took one pill on one occasion. I presently have a whole unopened bottle of Vicodin or Oxycodone or something – not even sure what. I’d just rather deal with pain than become addicted. I am pretty paranoid about that and rather safe than sorry.

janbb's avatar

I agree with @Coloma – there aren’t easy answers to this. Living with chornic pain is horrible. even dealing with unncessary post-surgical pain is horrible. There must be some balance. Were the opiates of the past not as addictive that we are hearing so much about this now?

As far as your friend goes, I’ve heard good things about staging an intervention and then maybe a program based on the AA model or ideally a residential treatment program.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@janbb Thanks. Do they allow family members at the AA type group sessions? Or just the one hooked?

janbb's avatar

There are groups for family members in AA that are separate. They are called Al Anon. I think there are groups called Narc Anon for family members of drug addicts.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

GA. I hadn’t thought of that. That’s an excellent idea.

KNOWITALL's avatar

A friend told me that ‘slips’ occur during treatment, much like alcoholism, and that ‘curing’ an addict is near to impossible, which is why they tend to say ‘I’m a recovering ______”

That friends husband is now addicted to methadone instead of the pills he was taking. It just seems that just like cigs and alchohol, there is no cure and it could always be a problem, and you just have to quit as many times as it takes until it clicks.

I bet Big Pharma is loving all this addiction to legally prescribed pills while the resulting behavior rips all our hearts out. But God forbid someone legalize a plant…crazy world.

I’d really love to hear from someone who was addicted and see what helped them quit for good.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@KNOWITALL I like the idea of making big pharma responsible for some of the costs of counselling, therapy, etc. One of the answers I got said Viocodin was the #1 prescribed drug in 2010. Yay, lets maximize the addiction.

nicole29's avatar

@janbb The opiates of the past… were heroin. Opiates always have been addictive – as they all stimulate the same Mu receptors in the brain. We just prescribe them a LOT more often now – which is why you’re hearing about the addictive potential.

@jca I’d suggest getting rid of whatever narcotics you have. Don’t want a guest (or anyone, really) getting into them. Flush them, or dump the pills into coffee grounds or something else that people wouldn’t want to get into, and put it out to the garbage.

We can blame the pharmaceutical companies and doctors prescribing them… but they wouldn’t be doing it if people didn’t WANT it, or complain when they don’t get it. I’ve had tonsils and wisdom teeth out, as an adult, and never had any. My father had rotator cuff surgery and never had more than Motrin.. It is their fault for making it available, but WE are the ones who start taking them, innocently or not. Unfortunately those who truly need them represent a very small number, compared to those that have them.

janbb's avatar

@nicole29 Yes, I understand that they have always been addictive.

One question I wonder if anyone knows the answer to: If we flush drugs down the toilet, does that affect the water supply?

gailcalled's avatar

Yes; please don’t flush any Rx or OTC pills or tablets.

Mariah's avatar

It’s really easy to have happen. It has happened to me (very mildly) despite being a very responsible person. I had a very painful minor surgery last January and had no down time in which to recover; it was the middle of a term in college and I had things that needed to get done despite the pain. So I started taking the percocet I had been prescribed very regularly. No more than what I was told! But, regularly, and I’m a small person, and apparently it was enough to get dependent.

Withdrawal, even just for my pretty minor dependence, was not fun. Insomnia, sweats alternating with chills, restless leg syndrome, body aches. I have one kind of useful tip, and that is that Imodium, yes the antidiarrheal that is available OTC, is a very weak narcotic, but one that can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. You don’t get high from it, but taking it can relieve some of the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Then you just have to wean off Imodium, which is really easy because it’s so weak.

Obviously taking Imodium is not the best idea if you don’t have the runs because it could plug you up, but opiate withdrawal often causes diarrhea, so they go hand in hand nicely.

Coloma's avatar

Reminds me I have controlled substances still in my fridge from my cats rattlesnake bite in June.
Oxy-CAT-on as we joked about in the vets office. lol
I have 4 leftover syringes, hmmm…maybe I should take them for my sore thumb and aching shoulder today. haha (jk ) Besides even if combined they would only treat a weight of 60 lbs. I’m afraid I weigh more than double that, sooo….guess I will just have to suffer. haha

trailsillustrated's avatar

An opiate is an opiate and it’s all the same- I know a few people, that have good, professional jobs that are totally strung out on pain killers. Unfortunately, unless you have really good health insurance or lots of money, treatment is a far away, exotic place. I was lucky enough to be able to just be sick for a year or so ( I cold turkeyed off of 75mg daily of methadone.) You have to really, really want it. Its sounds like this person isn’t in all that deep, yet, he needs to be honest with his Dr., and get an rx for an anti emetic and some clonidine, and have a sympathetic place to be sick for about ten days (could be much longer if he’s on suboxone or something like that.) Good luck I wish him all the best, having been through it myself. Ps- @mariah is right about the immodium ( only works on a low level habit ) and trazadone works too.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Thanks you guys for all of your answers. You have helped so so much. I have learned so so much. Thank you from my heart.

nicole29's avatar

@janbb The water supply thing is up for debate and varies by medicaiton.. To be safe, it’s probably best to either take them to a “Drug Take Back” site (often there are events at local police stations) where they can dispose of them… Google it to find a site. Or you can throw them in the trash – by mixing them in with coffee grounds, kitty litter, etc. that will make it unlikely that anyone might stumble across them or get ahold of any pills (that wouldn’t be covered in something disgusting..)

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