vicodin pills

Vicodin Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment

vicodin pills

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is the most popular prescription painkiller in the U.S. It is a brand name of a combination medication that contains acetaminophen and the opioid drug hydrocodone. It is a Schedule II drug with a high potential for abuse and addiction.

Vicodin is usually prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and is very effective when used as prescribed. It works by affecting certain receptors in the brain and changing the way the user perceives pain. It also produces feelings of calmness and euphoria, which makes it very addictive.

It comes in tablet form and is available with three different dosage levels of hydrocodone: 5 mg, 7.5 mg, and 10 mg. The tablets also contain anywhere from 300 to 325 mg of acetaminophen. Unfortunately, Vicodin is often prescribed to patients who don’t necessarily need a painkiller that strong or they are given the drug for longer periods of time than it’s needed.

The overprescribing of Vicodin has led to a lot of misuse and abuse. Regardless, Vicodin remains the top choice for doctors prescribing medication for chronic pain relief and it accounts for nearly half of all opioid prescriptions written in the U.S. annually.

The following terms are street names or slang for Vicodin:

  • Hydros
  • Vicos
  • Vics
  • Watsons
  • Lorris
  • Norco
  • Tabs

How Common Is Vicodin Addiction and Abuse?

According to the DEA, there were 83.6 million U.S. prescriptions dispensed for hydrocodone-containing products in 2017. Although there are several hundred brand name and generic hydrocodone products currently marketed, the most frequently prescribed are Vicodin and Lortab.

The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 11.1 million people misused prescription pain relievers like Vicodin last year. Most often abused for its opioid effects (euphoria and a sense of calmness), Vicodin is also misused alongside alcohol to enhance its effects and produce a stronger high.

Although Vicodin abusers sometimes get their prescriptions from a doctor, many of them may also get hydrocodone pills via:

  • Bogus call-in prescriptions
  • Forged prescriptions
  • Stolen prescriptions
  • Illegal online purchases

Due to the high volume of misuse and abuse, the DEA rescheduled Vicodin from a Schedule III drug to a Schedule II drug in October of 2014.

What Are the Side Effects of Vicodin Abuse?

Common side effects of Vicodin abuse include:

  • Euphoria
  • A relaxed, calm feeling
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Depressed breathing
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Liver damage

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Addiction?

Anyone can become addicted to Vicodin, but those who are taking opioid painkillers or who have a history of substance abuse may be more likely to abuse it. Someone who is addicted to Vicodin or abusing it may display some of the behavioral signs:

  • Taking more Vicodin than is needed for pain relief
  • Taking Vicodin longer than intended
  • Having cravings to use Vicodin
  • Trying to cut back on Vicodin use but being unable to
  • Using Vicodin despite the problems it causes financially, at work, and in relationships
  • Spending a great deal of time figuring out how to get Vicodin, using it, or recovering from Vicodin abuse
  • Foregoing hobbies, interests, and social activities to use Vicodin
  • Developing a tolerance to Vicodin
  • Continuing to use Vicodin even when it puts you or others in danger
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms which can only be relieved with more Vicodin

What Are Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms?

When a person is addicted to Vicodin, over time, their body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug. If they try to stop using it or cut back, they will experience uncomfortable physical and psychological side effects. Most often, Vicodin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Vicodin cravings
  • Lack of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches/cramps
  • Rapid breathing
  • Goosebumps
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

Vicodin Detox

Since Vicodin withdrawal symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, it’s often recommended that people complete detox and withdrawal at a medical detox center. Medically-assisted Vicodin detox provides 24/7 medical and clinical care to ensure the client’s comfort and safety throughout the entire detox process.

Since medically-assisted Vicodin detox takes place in a controlled and substance-free environment, it greatly reduces the risk of relapse and overdose. Treatment staff also provide personal recommendations for ongoing care after Vicodin detox, so clients can continue the addiction treatment process with a level of care that is appropriate for their needs.

What Is the Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline?

Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline
6-12 hours after the last dose: Early Vicodin withdrawal symptoms often feel like flu symptoms and may include achiness, insomnia, sweating, and yawning. Anxiety and agitation are also common.
1-3 days after the last dose:Symptoms peak during the first few days of Vicodin detox and people usually experience more intense flu-like symptoms, including cramps, chills, and goosebumps, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
5-7 days after the last dose:Most often, symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal will diminish by one week after the last dose, although some people may experiencing lasting symptoms (also known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms). These may linger after completing a Vicodin detox program and typically include anxiety, mood swings, anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), and insomnia.

Treatment Options for Vicodin Addiction

Upon completion of Vicodin detox, enrolling in a rehab program for Vicodin addiction is often the next step down in treatment. Long-term rehab can help addicted individuals discover the root causes of their addiction and learn how to implement positive life changes so that they can thrive in a lifestyle of lasting recovery.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states addiction treatment of 90 days or longer provides the greatest opportunity for positive outcomes in recovery. Although there are many types of rehab programs, many of them lasting 30, 60, or 90 days, many clients continue with their treatment even after Vicodin rehab, which further reduces their risk of relapse.

During a drug rehab program for Vicodin addiction, clients work with treatment professionals such as addiction counselors, therapists, recovery specialists, and peer coaches to achieve the following objectives:

  • To learn about the disease of addiction and the recovery process
  • To work through the 12-step program (or similar recovery curriculum)
  • To learn how to recognize and cope with high-risk situations, triggers, and cravings
  • To gain life skills that are essential for lasting recovery
  • To heal physically and emotionally from the effects of addiction

Clients work to achieve these objectives during a Vicodin treatment program with various evidence-based treatment methods, such as behavioral therapy, individual counseling and group counseling, educational lectures, 12-step facilitation therapy, family therapy, and peer support.

The two most common types of Vicodin rehab programs for addiction are inpatient programs and outpatient programs. If you’re searching for a rehab program for Vicodin addiction, it’s important to consider the unique qualities of both types of Vicodin treatment, as they are equally recovery-focused.

Although inpatient and outpatient Vicodin treatment programs are both helpful for achieving long-term recovery, there are some differences between the two.

In residential Vicodin rehab, clients:

  • Stay at the rehab center throughout the duration of treatment
  • Follow a structured schedule
  • Have daily counseling sessions
  • Participate in various types of therapies and recovery-focused group activities
  • Have immediate access to medical and clinical care services

In outpatient Vicodin rehab, clients:

  • Attend a series of group outpatient sessions while they live at home
  • Complete homework assignments on their own at home
  • Maintain obligations to family, employers, or education while completing treatment
  • Have limited access to medical and clinical care services

Generally speaking, residential rehab programs are ideal for people with severe or long-standing addictions while outpatient rehab is good for people with moderate addictions and less complex medical and/or clinical needs.

Regardless of which type of Vicodin rehab program you choose, the cost of treatment will vary depending on the location, the treatment services offered, the amenities, and several other factors. However, there are several payment options that may help reduce your out-of-pocket cost for rehab, such as:

Additional options for ongoing Vicodin treatment after rehab include sober living programs and aftercare. Both of these types of treatment programs are designed to help newly sober people establish a sustainable lifestyle of sobriety and maintain accountability with their peers.

Sober Living Programs

A sober living program offers a safe and substance-free group living environment for people in recovery. Sober living homes can be residential homes or apartment complexes, and although the living space may be different, the recovery support services are often very similar.

Many sober living homes don’t just offer sober residents a place to live. They also provide social services like employment assistance, volunteer placement, and educational planning. They may also offer tiered recovery programming, drug and alcohol testing, and designated sober coaches.

The cost of a sober living home will vary greatly, depending on its location, amenities, room options, and recovery support services offered. However, some sober living homes may offer scholarships or provide a wide range of rooming options and prices for varying budgets.

Aftercare Programs

Aftercare is intended for people who have already completed detox and rehab and who need continued support to stay sober. Aftercare groups meet weekly and provide a safe and accepting environment where people in recovery can connect with sober peers and share their personal experiences in recovery.

Often, aftercare is a great opportunity to bond with a sober community, provide feedback and advice based on personal experience, or receive helpful suggestions and encouragement from other sober individuals.

Vicodin addiction may seem impossible to overcome, but with the right care and a professional Vicodin treatment program, you can start living a sober life that you can be proud of.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-3459/vicodin-oral/details
  2. https://www.rxlist.com/vicodin-drug.htm
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/27/americans-consume-almost-all-of-the-global-opioid-supply.html
  4. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/hydrocodone.pdf
  5. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2017-nsduh-annual-national-report
  6. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/painkillers-and-addiction-narcotic-abuse

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