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You can overcome your addiction to prescription drugs. Here’s what you need to know.

Expert Help for Prescription Drug Addiction

Worried about addiction to prescription drugs like Percocet, Demerol and Vicodin? We’re here to help

“Not why the addiction but why the pain.”
― Gabor Maté

Many people take prescription medicines to relieve pain or ease the symptoms of a specific illness. These are drugs your doctor has given you because they have been proven safe and effective for the symptoms you’re experiencing.

However, if you take these drugs in a way that is different from what your doctor prescribed, you may be setting yourself up for a dangerous addiction that can threaten your health, work and relationships.

Prescription drugs such as Demerol, Percocet and Vicodin are among the opioid drugs you’ve heard so much about.

They are highly addictive, and those who become hooked face serious risks for overdose and even death.

Some people become addicted to these drugs even though they are carefully following their doctor’s orders. Others get hooked when they experiment with drugs prescribed for someone else.

Regardless of how the story begins, it often ends with a dangerous dependence on prescription drugs that can destroy lives and tear families apart.


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Here are warning signs that you or someone you care about may be addicted to prescription opioids such as Vicodin, Percocet or Demerol.

  • You are taking a larger dose than your doctor prescribed.
  • You’ve been on the drug longer than your doctor intended, even though the original symptoms may be gone.
  • You’re taking medicine that was prescribed for someone else.
  • You’re not following your doctor’s instructions. For example, instead of swallowing tablets, you’re crushing them and snorting them or injecting them.
  • You’re using the drug to enjoy the high, not to relieve pain or discomfort.
  • You’ve gone to multiple doctors to get more than one prescription.


A recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that, over the past year, about 15 million Americans over the age of 12 used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. In fact, studies reveal that prescription medications are abused more often than any other kind of drug except alcohol and marijuana.

News stories on the opioid addiction crisis often blame one or two well-known drugs for the problems Americans are facing. Oxycontin and hydrocodone are often cited as the cause of suffering for millions. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is also the focus of many reports, since it has caused thousands of overdoses and deaths.

However, you should know that opioids are a large class of prescription drugs that includes Percocet, Demerol, Vicodin and many other brand names. Just because you are not using “oxy” or other drugs you’ve heard about doesn’t mean you are safe from addiction.


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Percocet is the brand name for a painkiller that combines oxycodone, a powerful opioid, and acetaminophen, the main ingredient in the brand-name pain reliever Tylenol.

Oxycodone is made from the same substance as morphine, heroin and many other illegal drugs. Drugs that contain opioids – including Percocet – relieve pain by activating the brain’s reward center. This makes them highly addictive, because people often enjoy the way they feel when they take the drug.

Over time, opioids such as Percocet stop working the way they intended. This leads people to take larger doses to get the same effects.

Percocet has a number of possible side effects. Spotting these side effects is one way to confirm that the person is abusing the drug. For example, Percocet reduces the natural processes that keep your digestive system healthy. This can lead to constipation and difficulty with bowel movements.

Other signs and symptoms of Percocet abuse include:

  • Confusion and foggy thinking
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Difficulty getting to sleep – or sleeping too much
  • Low blood pressure
  • Reduced breathing rate
  • Excess sweating, even in a cool environment
  • Poor coordination that shows up when the person moves or tries to do simple tasks

Treatment for Percocet addiction often requires more than one approach. At SunCloud, we follow a highly individualized approach to ease the discomfort you may feel and help you recover.

It may seem strange, but prescription drugs themselves may be part of the solution. Medications can help treat the symptoms you may have during the detoxification process. When used under a doctor’s care, with consistent supervision and support, medications such as buprenorphine or methadone have been safely used to treat those who are recovering from a Percocet addiction.


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Vicodin is another prescription drug derived from the same substances used to make street drugs such as heroin. It is an opioid pain reliever prescribed by dentists and doctors to treat moderate to severe pain. If you’ve had a tooth removed or a surgical procedure performed, you have likely had a prescription for Vicodin.

Vicodin is often abused by patients who received it from their doctors. It should be taken with great caution, especially by people who have a personal or family history of substance abuse.

Vicodin can be very habit-forming, both physically and psychologically. People who take Vicodin over long periods often experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop. Most users develop a tolerance to the drug, which leads them to take larger doses in order to manage their pain.

Warning signs of Vicodin addiction also include:

  • Obsessive thoughts about the drug and how you can maintain your supply
  • Cravings for the drug, even when you’re not in pain
  • Inability to stop taking the drug, even if it’s causing physical side effects and interfering with work and relationships
  • Lying to your medical team about pain levels in order to get more of the drug
  • Visiting multiple doctors to get several prescriptions

The simplest way to see whether you have developed an addiction to Vicodin is to stop taking the drug. If you notice withdrawal symptoms that are too difficult to bear and you end up going back to the drug, you are dealing with an addiction.

Vicodin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating and chills
  • Nausea and other digestive problems
  • Body aches

Because withdrawal is so uncomfortable, the best move is often to enter a care center where you will receive the medical care and support you need to break the cycle. Those who try to recover without medical help experience the lowest rates of success.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective approaches to Vicodin addiction. With CBT, users learn coping skills to deal with cravings and life stressors without returning to Vicodin use. CBT can also help patients learn to shift their attention away from pain and other symptoms, changing the way they respond to pain. There are many safe ways to manage pain that do not involve opioids such as Vicodin – and having a personalized plan for recovery can help you master them.


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Demerol is the brand name for a generic drug known as meperidine, a prescription-only pain reliever that is also classified as an opioid.

Demerol is often compared to morphine, since both drugs provide similar levels of pain relief. For much of the 20th century, Demerol was the prescription opioid most frequently prescribed by doctors, though these days it is used less frequently.

Demerol tablets are often called “Demmies” by people who use and abuse them. Although they can be highly addictive, this drug is often used in hospitals and clinics because doctors and nurses can monitor the effects and discontinue the drug when it’s no longer needed. But people who take Demerol at home often have trouble quitting because of the withdrawal symptoms, which may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle and bone pain

Demerol addiction is treated in much the same way as addictions to Vicodin, Percocet and other opioids. The next section will outline what to expect if you or someone you love needs help in overcoming a Vicodin addiction.


The best news you may hear all day is this. You are not alone. Millions of others are walking the same road with you. And the experts at SunCloud Health have the tools and knowledge to help you end your addiction for good.

You don’t have to feel ashamed about where you are right now. You don’t have to hide your feelings – or pretend you’re not struggling. We understand what you’re going through, because we have helped hundreds of people in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs overcome their addiction to prescription medications.

The skilled, caring team at SCH will help you every step of the way, creating a recovery plan that takes into account all the things that make you unique. We will be there to support you in your journey back to health, happiness and a life of purpose.

Here are some things that will ease your mind, even before you begin treatment.

You don’t have to blame yourself. We know that addiction runs in families. When many of us take drugs such as Vicodin, Demerol, Percocet and other opioids, it’s often just a matter of time before we run into problems. It can happen even if you’re following doctor’s orders. So try not to judge yourself harshly.

You’ve already taken the first step. By searching for information on our website, you’ve shown that you are ready to seek help, or support a friend or family member. This is the crucial first step in getting well.

We can make the journey easier for you. The SunCloud staff will use the best techniques and therapies to alleviate any discomfort and surround you with effective care as you enter the recovery process. We will stay with you, providing the education and support you need to stay healthy over the long term.


Help is one click or call away
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Emily Long discusses how patients benefit from an integrative treatment approach and how that contributes to a more effective treatment experience at SunCloud Health.


As an outpatient treatment center, SunCloud Health is in an ideal position to support you for as long as you agree our services are useful to you. With multiple levels of outpatient care, you may decide to stay connected through one of our aftercare outpatient groups – or you may want to continue seeing one of our individual therapists.  We are here to provide continuous, caring support for your recovery journey.

Though we understand fully that you don’t want to spend your life in treatment, we also know from experience that a lifetime commitment to wellness is the foundation of your well-being over the long term. We will work with you to maintain a healthy outlook, which means achieving balance, honesty, and health — physical, emotional and spiritual. Our goal is to create a care plan that you can take with you forever, wherever you may go.


Dr. Marcia Nickow, Psy.D., CADC, CGP shares her thoughts on hope for recovery at SunCloud Health.


Chris Stewart, MD. Board Certified Psychiatrist answers, does addiction treatment work?

The treatment team at SunCloud gets it. They practice what they preach, they are compassionate and they are true professionals.  They all understand what I am going through and they have guided me from a hopeless place of disease to recovery and a life worth living.  Most importantly they have helped me realize that I am worth something and that I don’t have to use in order to cope with life and all that comes with it.  Recovery can be amazing.  Trust me.  The work is not easy and it is totally worth it!   Today I am alive.

~ SCH patient

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