Vicodin Detox Symptoms, Timeline, Medications and Treatment
What is Vicodin?Vicodin (hydrocodone with acetaminophen) is an opioid/opiate drug used for the treatment of pain. While Vicodin is very effective for the management of post-surgical or injury-related pain, individuals who take it over a long period of time can become dependent on it. Cessation or suspension of chronic Vicodin use can lead to severe withdrawal.
Why is Detox from Vicodin Necessary for Recovery?
Detoxification (Detox) is the process of taking an individual off of a drug on which he/she has become physically dependent. It helps to rid the body of the Vicodin and from physical dependence on the drug. A properly managed detox period can also help greatly diminish the pain and discomfort of withdrawal.
Addiction to Vicodin is costly in terms of lost productivity and takes a toll on the family and communityDetox from dependence/addiction on Vicodin is necessary due to severe or potentially fatal illness. Addiction to Vicodin and other drugs takes a tremendous toll on the family of the dependent/addicted person, and social services and treatment costs put great pressure on the health and welfare system.
Addiction/dependence is costly in terms of lost productivity in one's work or professional life because of drug-related impairment, and a drug-related crime severely impacts the life of a community, a family, and the individual. Detox is necessary in the event that the availability of Vicodin becomes a problem for the chronically dependent user, who might turn to heroin for relief, which is cheaper and available from drug-dealers.
Resorting to heroin that is often 'cut' with additives compounds health problems. This makes intravenous use even more risky than it otherwise would be, and can result in:
- Heart infections such as endocarditis.
- Diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and/or C.
- Lung infections due to pulmonary granuloma.
The acetaminophen (Tylenol) in Vicodin is safe within therapeutic dosage ranges. However, detox is warranted for the chronically dependent user of Vicodin because doses of Tylenol, in excess of 4000 mg per day, can cause liver injury, or liver failure resulting in death.
Is Detox from Vicodin Dangerous?
Generally no, detox from Vicodin is not dangerous, but you may feel ten times the discomfort of flu.
Special care during detox is recommended for:
- Individuals suffering from advanced HIV-AIDS.
- The elderly.
- Individuals with coronary artery disease.
- Newborn children (neonates) of untreated mothers, who are dependent/addicted to Vicodin, are likely to suffer neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which can be fatal if left untreated.
- Those with concurrent alcohol or sedative abuse issues.
Why Detoxing from Vicodin at Home can be Harmful
Withdrawal for the dependent Vicodin user can be very painful and distressing. Here are some reasons to avoid detoxing at home:
- The severity of your Vicodin use can impact the physical and psychological complications that require assistance. For example, intravenous drug use increases the likelihood of developing HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis.
- Nausea/vomiting and diarrhea can induce severe dehydration, depriving the body of essential nutrients, and causing physical weakness.
- Withdrawal symptoms may be compounded for the chronically dependent drug user due to the anticipation of the distress of withdrawal.
- This increases stress levels, particularly for those persons who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental illness.
- Additionally, fever, muscle/joint pain can be so uncomfortable and draining, leading to restlessness, and prompting desperate measures to alleviate pain, like the use of over-the-counter medications that are easily taken in excess; or alcohol, which can be fatal in combination with opioids.
Medically Assisted Detox and Withdrawal
Detox, or withdrawal management as it is sometimes called, will help to alleviate the distress of acute withdrawal quickly and effectively.
Patients in detox will be treated with another opiate that is gradually tapered over a period of 1-2 weeks.
- Methadone and buprenorphine are two options. Non-opiate treatment with naltrexone is available and can help ease the patient into maintenance treatment.
- Adjunct psychosocial therapy is highly recommended in tapering to improve compliance and prevent relapse because craving may be diminished, but not completely eliminated.
For those who want to get back to work quickly with few disruptions, detox can be completed rapidly within 48 hours.
- It is done under general anesthesia, using naltrexone to speed up the process, and medications to treat other side effects of withdrawal.
- The procedure alone can cost over $7500, and remains controversial because of general risks associated with anesthesia, and questions about its effectiveness in long-term recovery.
Medically-assisted detox not only aims to treat acute systems in early withdrawal, but helps to maximize the progress through and completion of a successful recovery program as well as minimize the potential for readmission to detox programs in the future.
What to Expect During Vicodin Detoxification
When an individual goes to a treatment center or Emergency Room for detox treatment, they can expect to be treated in a non-judgmental manner, and interviewed to evaluate:
- Drug use history.
- Other medical history.
- Mental health.
- Social functioning, e.g. living arrangements, family members, support systems.
A physical examination will check vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature, and also check for physical symptoms of dependence and any concomitant health issues, such as
- Edema in arms or legs.
- Symptoms of jaundice for possible liver problems.
Further, urine and blood specimens will be taken to check for type and levels of drug use, pregnancy, Hepatitis-B or C, HIV-AIDS, and liver function.
Clonidine (Catapres) or lofexidine (not FDA approved), marketed as antihypertensives, may be prescribed alone or along with other meds to reduce cravings and hyperactive symptoms in the central nervous system.
How Long Does Detox Last?
It depends on extent and amount of use, as well as route of administration. The initial acute withdrawal phase of detox usually lasts 7-10 days. Chronically dependent/intravenous users may need detox for six months or more. The second stage of withdrawal, known as Protracted Abstinence Withdrawal Syndrome can last up to, and beyond, 6 months in dependent/addicted
individuals who have used high dosages over long periods of time, or who injected the drug. Medication-assisted treatment with other opiates such as methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone or Subutex), or with a non-opiate antagonist such as naltrexone (Vivitrol) are options to stave off cravings during this time.
Vicodin Detox Treatment
There are various levels of Vicodin detox treatment. The intensity of services will be determined by a number of factors, including:
- Accompanying behavioral and/or psychological issues such as potential harm to self or others.
- Co-occurring illnesses.
- Level of observation deemed necessary during withdrawal.
As withdrawal symptoms are resolved, detox treatment will be managed at a lower level of intensity.
Choosing the Best Vicodin Detox Center
Although this is not an exhaustive list, choices may be based on the following:
- Transportation to outpatient services, or ease of access for family members where distance or transportation is an issue.
- Security/safety of inpatient/residential treatment in helping to prevent relapse in early recovery.
- Services that emphasize family, work and vocational issues of recovery.
- Detox centers that can initiate or continue treatment for co-occurring illnesses.
- Insurance coverage, co-pay, and cost.
- The need for privacy.
- The use of evidence-based treatments for dependence or addiction as a medical illness.