Vicoprofen Uses, Side Effects & Addiction Risks

Vicoprofen is a short-term opioid pain reliever. It is administered to relieve pain in injured patients after accidents and surgeries. The drug has a high risk for physical and psychological dependence, but still has medical value when used correctly.
Evidence Based
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What is Vicoprofen?

Vicoprofen is an analgesic pain reliever that contains both hydrocodone and ibuprofen. It is administered to injured patients when the subsequent pain is severe enough to require opioid treatment for short-term relief (10 days or less).

The hydrocodone in Vicoprofen simulates the pleasure sensors in the brain, forcing it to create large amounts of dopamine to mask the pain. The ibuprofen in Vicoprofen reduces swelling, fever, inflammation, and pain in the patient.

Vicoprofen vs Vicodin

Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, whereas Vicoprofen is a combination of hydrocodone and ibuprofen. The combination of hydrocodone and ibuprofen helps avoid liver failure from acetaminophen use.

Vicoprofen can be a highly effective drug for pain relief after a significant injury or surgery. However, it can be highly addictive if misuse of dosage occurs for extended periods of time.

Vicoprofen Dosage

Every prescription is based on pain levels, the surgical procedure being performed, and the type of injury (e.g., resetting broken bones, broken ribs that cannot be mended via surgery, back pain from an injury, such as falling or heavy lifting). After assessing these factors, a doctor will evaluate a patient’s prior history of opioid treatment and other possible risk factors for addiction before prescribing Vicoprofen.

Vicoprofen pill

However, a typical dosage of Vicoprofen is taking one ingestible tablet every four to six hours. Patients should not ingest more than five tablets in 24 hours for no more than 10 days. If taken incorrectly, a tolerance to the drug can develop quickly. Doctors ask patients a series of questions about previous injuries and medications to determine if Vicoprofen is a practical choice for the patient or if it puts them at risk for future addiction.

Graphic of four pills to display party drugs.

Side Effects of Vicoprofen

Side effects of use include:

  • Dopamine Overload — large amounts of constant dopamine are detrimental to the human brain. Being exposed to hydrocodone, even short-term, can cause brain cells to burn out. Over time, the internal pleasure receptors also turn off. Exhaustion of the pleasure response, due to dopamine overload, overworks the brain and the body making it easy to slide into bouts of depression unless more stimulation from the drug is available.
  • Respiratory depression Hydrocodone slows or stops breathing altogether and can be fatal. Lungs must be monitored throughout Vicoprofen use, especially if lung disease or damage is present to assure respiratory arrest does not occur.
Pill bottle and skull

Addiction Potential & Symptoms

Vicoprofen was originally a Schedule III substance. In 2014 it became a Schedule II substance, which categorizes Vicoprofen as a drug with a higher risk of physical or psychological dependence, but that still has medical value. Like Vicodin, Vicoprofen can lead to addiction, abuse, and misuse after long-term use (e.g., taking it without a prescription or in higher doses than prescribed). It can also cause an overdose or death.

Over time, opioid use can induce physical dependence, meaning that more substantial amounts of the drug will be required to achieve the same pain-relieving effects. While a dependence timeline differs from patient to patient, the symptoms remain the same.

The most apparent addiction symptoms to identify are:

  • Changes in behaviors
  • Resignation from friend groups
  • Changes in eating habits (increase or decrease)
  • Talking fast or erratically
  • Quickly shifting moods
  • Being overly energetic or very tired and fatigued
  • Sleeping at odd hours
Graphic of woman going through withdrawal.

Vicoprofen Withdrawal Symptoms

Not all patients are subject to Vicoprofen addiction. When appropriately applied for pain reduction, psychological dependence is not likely to occur with narcotics, and the patient may be able to make a full recovery without the desire for extended use of the drug.

Unless the patient is prone to addiction, the mind will more than likely go back to regulating its own dopamine production once the patient has stopped using the drug.

However, the body will still go through withdrawal symptoms once drug use decreases. Symptoms can last up to seven days, and tapered dosage along with therapy may be the only way to relieve physical withdrawal symptoms and prevent future addiction.

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms of Vicoprofen involve:

  • Sweating, chills, and/or goosebumps
  • A drastic change in body temperature
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Undeniable cravings for the drug
  • Headaches and light sensitivity
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Deep chemical depression
  • Joint and muscle fatigue
  • Runny nose

Drug Interactions

Vicoprofen should not be used in conjunction with:

  • Alcohol
  • Macrolide antibiotics
  • Benzodiazepines and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants
  • Serotonergic drugs
  • Additional analgesics
  • Anticholinergics
  • Muscle relaxants

The use of these drugs with Vicoprofen can increase the euphoric effects of the drug. It also creates a higher risk of addiction for the patient.

Icon of pill with warning sign

Overdose Treatment

Overdose is more likely to occur if the patient exhibits other substance abuse behaviors like alcohol abuse, is recreationally using benzodiazepines, or other opioids.

Overdose of Vicoprofen can lead to life-threatening respiratory depression. Some signs of respiratory depression include:

  • Shallow, slow breaths
  • Gurgling or snoring like sounds
  • Speaking in nonsense, gibberish, or inability to speak at all
  • Drowsy or sleepy like behavior (nodding out)
  • A darkening of the lips or bluish skin

If a person exhibits any of the signs above, call 911 immediately, as they will not be able to recover from respiratory depression on their own. Respiratory depression is fatal and causes the patient to suffocate from within as the lungs slow or stop functioning.

Two hands with a heart between them

Addiction Treatment Options

Structured Rehab is the only way to ensure the successful treatment of a Vicoprofen addiction. Vicoprofen and general opioid use disorder cannot be defeated alone, and "cold-turkey" is not an option as it is too much of a risk to cause further addiction in a patient. Privately owned, insurance designated rehabilitation centers, and methadone clinics are all viable options for structured treatment.

Structured rehab facilities and medication-assisted therapy (MAT) creates an environment for analyzing the baseline of an addiction. These facilities explore the possibilities of emotional addiction, as well as physical, as overexposure to opioids cause the brain to believe it needs more opioids for survival. These facilities provide a safe and standardized regimen for detoxing from the drug and processing opioids from the system.

Multiple treatments may be the only way to break an addiction to hydrocodone and other opioids.


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Resources

World Health Organization. Methadone maintenance treatment,
2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310658/

American Society of Anesthesiology. Opioid Abuse. https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/opioid-treatment/opioid-abuse/

Scot Thomas, MD. American Addiction Centers. Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline, Detox Centers, and Treatment. 27 September 2019.
https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/hydrocodone

Drugs.com. Vicoprofen. http://www.lb7.uscourts.gov/documents/12-92679.pdf

IMB Watson Health. Hydrocodone And Ibuprofen (Oral Route). 1 February. 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/hydrocodone-and-ibuprofen-oral-route/description/drg-20062862

FDA.gov. Vicoprofen. December 2016. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/020716s012s013s014s015s016lbl.pdf

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Updated on: July 20, 2020
Author
Addiction Group Staff
About
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Medically Reviewed: March 10, 2020
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Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
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