My My daughter is addicted to vicodin
December 15, 2006 2:54 PM   Subscribe

My 25 year old daughter is worrying me. She self medicates with vicodin to help her through her depression. Lately she has become comatose, falling asleep at the wheel, talking with slurred speech and denying that she is doing any drugs. Her mother took her to the hospital and they advised her to see a psychiatrist. I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that she is clean but she has a history that can't be denied. My latest thought is that she is doing but is in denial. Is there a definitive test that I can purchase from the pharmacy that would be conclusive. The part about her slurred speech, can anything else be causing this (she is also bulemic). As you can see she has alot to deal with. Any suggestions? I know she needs psychological help but I can't force her and since she is an adult she would not let her mother speak with the doctor.
posted by aisleofview to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Call the doctor now. You aren't prohibited from calling the doctor who is prescribing the meds.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:56 PM on December 15, 2006

If she's using (likely) but saying she isn't, that isn't denial, it's lying. Denial would be saying she's using but that it isn't a big deal. It sounds like she's nodding out from her opiate use. At least get her to stop driving.
posted by OmieWise at 3:00 PM on December 15, 2006

A parent that has a gut feeling that something is dreadfully amiss is usually pretty close to right. I know you are worried to death over this. She needs to prove she is clean and I can guess that she is not. If you can't talk to her doctor then the next time she goes to sleep behind the wheel see if you can get the cops involved. She is just a short distance away from a disastrous event. Is there anyway someone could intervene and put pressure on her to be forthcoming about what she is doing? You really need to act on this somehow. You and her mother just have to make her face her choices.
posted by JayRwv at 3:03 PM on December 15, 2006

I don't know why you're bothering with "confirmation." You know what the deal is, and a 25 year old suffering from those symptoms who hasn't RUN to the emergency room knows what the deal is, too. Healthy women that age do not have slurred speech or become "comatose" at any time. The fact the she is bulimic is evidence too - denial being a large part of the disease.

Stop her from driving immediately - she may have problems, but she shouldn't make them someone else's by causing an accident.

How does she self medicate without a prescription? I'd be on the phone to a doctor in a second, even if the doctor doesn't end up talking to you . . . though any credible doctor would be grateful for the information.

For your own peace of mind, do whatever it takes to get your daughter some help. By looking for a test to determine possible drug usage, you're admitting you're scared of being wrong. But guess what, you're her parent and you're probably right . . . and there's nothing wrong with being wrong in a situation like this. At the very least, her overt symptoms should be examined.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:12 PM on December 15, 2006

Let's put aside tests for a moment and look at the two reasons I can think of that she'd be acting this way.

1. She has a serious drug problem. It's impairing her ability to function, and probably also her judgment. She should see the doctor.

2. Her slurred speech and nodding off is the result of some type of medical problem, possibly a brain injury. It's impairing her ability to function, and probably also her judgment. She should see the doctor.

Forget whether she's using or not, understand that she probably can't think rationally on this one, and GET HER TO A DOCTOR. The doc will sort it out.
posted by christinetheslp at 3:22 PM on December 15, 2006

Also, perhaps you can call her doc and inquire about what you can do against her will. Even if it doesn't help you now, knowing the point where you could involuntarily commit her might be useful in the future.
posted by christinetheslp at 3:24 PM on December 15, 2006

Her doctor can't give you her medical information, but you can give her doctor information. Confidentiality doesn't mean they can't listen.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:50 PM on December 15, 2006

The slurring is probably due to her taking more Vicodin than is necessary. Vicodin is a depressant, which makes it all the more curious why your daughter would be self-medicating in this way.

Face the facts, she's likely dependent or addicted to this medication. If you don't help her soon, it will get worse, not better. You say she has a history of this sort of behavior, which is more troubling.

I've seen a couple of episodes of Intervention on A&E, and the people addicted to prescription meds are among the scariest cases. They start taking such huge doses that they just sit around the house and drool, while their loved ones suffer emotionally and financially.

It's hard to do, but go tell a doc or someone who can get her out of this. I don't know how bad it is, but getting her to go to rehab might be a good idea. She probably has underlying issues she's trying to deal with by abusing Vicodin.
posted by reenum at 4:32 PM on December 15, 2006

Get her marijuana. Vicodin is not physically addictive, only psychologically, same as with marijuana. She'll go back to normal and might actually enjoy it more, and without all the side effects of vicodin. Of course it's one addiction over the other, but without any harmful effects.
posted by PowerCat at 4:41 PM on December 15, 2006

Ignore Powercat. Vicodin contains a synthetic opioid, and will induce opioid tolerance and hence withdrawal upon abrupt cessation of prolonged use, which seems the case here.
posted by daksya at 4:51 PM on December 15, 2006

Any opiate user who says they're doing it to "help them through depression" is bullshitting themselves and you. Opiates are piss-poor antidepressants. If you know her doctor, talk to her doctor. Open by saying that you fully understand and accept that the doctor cannot discuss a patient's medical issues with anybody but the patient, but that you have information about your daughter's health that her doctor really needs to be aware of, and go from there. If you can do this face to face rather than on the phone, so much the better.
posted by flabdablet at 5:18 PM on December 15, 2006

And, seconding ignoring PowerCat. Marijuana is a piss-poor antidepressant as well. It's a fine drug for making enjoyable things more enjoyable, but it sucks for treating mental illness.
posted by flabdablet at 5:20 PM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Powercat is wrong - Vicodin is physically addictive.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:21 PM on December 15, 2006

Don't call me wrong, edit the wikipedia article yourself.
posted by PowerCat at 7:42 PM on December 15, 2006

She's addicted to narcotics. She's in good company, with many famous addicts throughout history.

Don't believe her bullshit about depression. She "self-medicates" with illegally-obtained narcotics because it gets her high, and she likes the feeling. And of course when the drug wears off, she feels like shit, which she might interpret as depression, as in "I'm depressed that I ran out of drugs." (Note that one of the side-effects of narcotic use can be vomiting, too.)

It is extremely unlikely that your daughter will break the addiction on her own. She may become incarcerated, and that will do it (physically at least). Alternately, you can get her into some kind of rehab program to break both the physical and mental addiction.

You do NOT need a "definitive test". You already know the answer.
posted by jellicle at 7:46 PM on December 15, 2006

As Joseph Gurl said, Powercat is very wrong. Vicodin is very addictive.

And yes, people self-medicate depression with it, but that doesn't mean it's not a serious problem, or that she loves getting high, or that she'll keep taking it after she's not depressed anymore.

There is no definitive test you can give her without her knowing. But honestly, if you think she's taking it, she probably is or something close to it. Pain killer addiction becomes very hard to hide after a while. And unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do to stop her from taking it if she wants to continue, especially at her age.

I agree that you should talk to her doctor. It may help. But someone committed to taking that stuff will find it, or something like it, one way or another. Are you positive she is getting it from her doctor? Does she have a history of physical pain? It seems unlikely that her doctor would be prescribing enough of the stuff for her to really abuse.

I suggest you go to an al-anon or similar meeting. They will probably have better advice for you than we do here.
posted by milarepa at 9:12 PM on December 15, 2006

Powercat, wikipedia already agrees that Vicodin is physically addictive.
posted by jacalata at 1:04 AM on December 16, 2006

Just to reiterate, Powercat is wrong (and Wikipedia isn't a definitive source). Vicodin is an opiate which can cause dependence and withdrawal. It can also cause liver problems because of the other constituents. (The withdrawal is very rarely life-threatening, though.)
posted by OmieWise at 7:27 AM on December 16, 2006

i second what milarepa has said. please don't try to test her, you already know what is going on. if you approach her at all at this point, do so with concern for her health and safety -- tell her you are worried she may have a condition that could cause her to cause an accident, and that you would feel better if she visited her doctor to be sure nothing is wrong. you could probably clue the doctor in to you concerns about her drug use and let the doctor take it from there (or at least be aware of the problem so painkillers were not being prescribed unnecessarily).

i lost my 28-year old daughter in july, 2005 to an overdose after a long period of escalating "self-medication." it wasn't until the end that we came to realize she was more than likely bi-polar, as was her father. sadly, i learned too late what not to do. the most important thing to understand is that once opiate addiction takes hold, the person has very little, if any, self-control, and trying to shock them into reality just doesn't work. any attempt to make them feel guilty only makes matters worse -- they already feel guilty about what they are doing, and adding more guilt only gives them another excuse to keep on using. "tough love" just doesn't work, trust me on that. they need to know that in spite of their problems, they are loved, no matter what -- even if it is sometimes hard to love someone who is causing so much pain to themselves and those around them. but they also need you to not go along with their denial and to not enable them to keep on using by making things easier for them (particularly not giving them money or letting them have access to things they can sell to buy drugs).

it's a very complicated, very rough road to be on, dealing with the addiction of a loved one. you need to be as informed on the subject as you can be. al-anon or nar-anon or similar groups could be of enormous help, as could reading everything you can about addiction, and about opiate addiction in particular. the more you know about the problem, the better you will be equipped to deal with what comes up. and please don't do what i did, assume that your daughter is too intelligent to fall into serious addiction, that she won't end up in over her head, or that she'll grow out of it. my daughter was bright, intelligent, loving, funny, well-liked and very kind. and she had a lot of pain and turmoil inside her, that she kept well bottled up and hidden until it was too late. she progressed to injecting heroin, and died after three failed stints at rehab, while we were desperately trying to figure out how we could get her into a mental health program. if it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.

support your daughter in finding out what is going on in her life that is causing her to use, but don't expect to be able to control her. and take care of yourself because you are facing a rocky road here.

take care and good luck.
posted by doplgangr at 11:16 AM on December 16, 2006

p.s. -- please be aware that prescription medications are easily obtained on the streets or through the internet, so one doesn't need to be getting them from a doctor at all. if your daughter has been purchasing her drugs from a dealer, she will be more easily exposed to other drugs that could end up being even more harmful -- that's how mine worked her way into heroin.

i would encourage her to go to the psychiatrist for help in sorting out her depression and see if that starts her on the path to recovery. she won't be thinking at all clearly if she is using opiates, and maybe getting an evaluation from a professional will help her to realize she has a problem. again, good luck.
posted by doplgangr at 11:26 AM on December 16, 2006

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