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Updated on September 26, 2022


What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a drug made of a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

It is a pain reliever that depresses the central nervous system. Doctors prescribe it for severe pain relief or in cases where other pain medications do not work.

Vicodin has a high risk of being misused and abused. Users prescribed Vicodin by their doctors for legitimate reasons develop a dependence on it and there is a risk for addiction. There are also Vicodin users not prescribed the drug who use it to experience a euphoric high.


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Vicodin Uses & Dosage

Doctors adjust the dosage of Vicodin based on the severity of pain. Tolerance is a risk, though, especially after extended use.

There are three variations of Vicodin, including:

  • The original - contains 5 mg of hydrocodone and 300 mg or acetaminophen
  • Vicodin ES - contains 7.5 mg of hydrocodone and 300 mg of acetaminophen
  • Vicodin HP - contains 10 mg or hydrocodone and 300 mg of acetaminophen

There are also formulations containing up to 325 mg of acetaminophen. For each, prescribed dosages range from one to two tablets every four to six hours.

Side Effects of Vicodin

Vicodin can trigger side effects that range from mild to moderate.

Short-term side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Spasms of the ureter making urination difficult

There are also side effects specific to either hydrocodone or acetaminophen.

For instance, hydrocodone side effects include:

  • Impairment of physical ability
  • Impairment of mental ability
  • Depressed breathing

Acetaminophen causes liver damage when used excessively.

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Vicodin vs Norco

Vicodin and Norco are similar drugs. They both contain acetaminophen and hydrocodone, but there is a difference in the formulation. Norco contains more hydrocodone. Because of this, users or Norco are more at risk for dizziness, drowsiness, and lightheadedness.

Drug Interactions

As is the case with most drugs, interactions can occur when mixing Vicodin with other substances.

For example, interactions are possible when patients take Vicodin in combination with:

  • Other narcotics
  • Antihistamines
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • CNS depressants
  • Alcohol
  • MAO Inhibitors
  • Tricyclic antidepressants 

Combining Vicodin and other drugs increases your risk of liver failure, overdose, and other serious side effects.

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Is Vicodin Addictive?

The hydrocodone in Vicodin makes it addictive if used for an extended time, or if it is abused or used recreationally. Both addiction and physical dependence can develop.

There is less risk for dependence when Vicodin is used as directed. 

It’s possible for someone using Vicodin to treat pain to develop a physical dependence on the drug, but this doesn’t always indicate an addiction. Withdrawal symptoms are possible, which is why doctors sometimes gradually reduce the dosage over time.

Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse and Addiction

Vicodin relaxes users and triggers a euphoric high in larger doses. Using Vicodin in any way that does not match your doctor's prescription is considered substance abuse.

Painkillers are one of the most commonly misused prescription drugs. Prescription opioid addiction and opioid overdose have become an epidemic in the United States.

Physical symptoms of Vicodin abuse include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Small pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Vicodin addiction occurs when someone continues to use the drug despite negative impacts on their mental health, social life, or school and work responsibilities.

Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone stops using Vicodin abruptly, they will experience withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours following the last dose. This is why doctors recommend tapering down a patient’s dosage of the medication. Quitting cold turkey triggers uncomfortable symptoms and increases the risk of relapse for someone addicted to Vicodin.

Vicodin withdrawal symptoms to other opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Nodding out
  • Runny nose
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Chills or goosebumps
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Muscle aches, pains, and cramping
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hostility
  • Trouble sleeping

Symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal can be eased and managed through detoxification by medical professionals at a treatment center. Medical detox is strongly recommended for anyone opioid detox and withdrawal.

Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline

The average amount of time for physical symptoms to end or mostly disappear is 7-10 days after the last drug use. However, it is possible that some symptoms will last weeks or months after you begin Vicodin detox, especially psychological symptoms.

The timeline of Vicodin or any opioid withdrawal will depend on the level of addiction, genetics, and tolerance. It is recommended that you undergo substance abuse treatment at a qualified treatment facility.

Treatment Options for Opioid Abuse & Addiction

Opioid use disorder is challenging to overcome. Fortunately, there are several options for help.

These include:

Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT)

There are three types of medication-assisted therapy for opioid use disorder:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

Buprenorphine and methadone help manage withdrawal symptoms as you detox.

Naltrexone blocks the receptors that opioids bind to, making it impossible to get high from them.

Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is most effective when combined with other treatments.

Inpatient Programs 

Inpatient programs are the most intensive addiction treatment options.

These programs guide you through:

  • Medically supervised detoxification
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Other services like medication-assisted therapy

They typically last 30, 60, or 90 days. However, they may be longer if necessary.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Intensive outpatient programs are the next level of addiction treatment. These programs provide similar services to inpatient programs such as detoxification and behavioral therapy.

The difference is that the patient will return home to sleep. Some programs also include transportation and meals.

PHPs are ideal for new patients and those who have completed inpatient treatment but still need intensive care.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient programs provide well-rounded treatment for people with a high motivation to recover. These programs are flexible and can be made around your schedule. They can also be customized to work best for you.

These programs work for new patients and those that complete an inpatient or partial hospitalization program.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, speak with a medical professional about your treatment options. Substance use disorders can destroy lives. Seek proper medical care today.

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