Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, Causes and Treatment

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  1. What is Vicodin Withdrawal? Does Withdrawal Last Long?
  2. Causes of Vicodin Withdrawal
  3. Symptoms of Withdrawal
  4. Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms
  5. Treatment for Vicodin Withdrawal
  6. Help Someone Through Withdrawal

What is Vicodin? Are There Withdrawals from Vicodin Use?

1.9 million Americans have an addiction to an opioid narcotic such as Vicodin. Most of them would gladly stop using if they could, but the agony of withdrawal is sufficient to bring many addicts back to Vicodin.

This powerful drug is chemically similar to heroin, producing withdrawal symptoms that are notoriously challenging to manage.

What is Vicodin? Are There Withdrawals from Vicodin Use?

What is Vicodin Withdrawal? Does Withdrawal Last Long?

Prescription painkillers, like Vicodin, kill around 44 people each day.Vicodin withdrawal is the body's reaction to the sudden removal of a substance on which it has grown dependent.


Vicodin actually contains two ingredients:

  • Hydrocodone.
  • Acetaminophen.

It's the hydrocodone that causes withdrawal symptoms, but the acetaminophen is what makes an overdose more likely, since acetaminophen is a liver toxin.

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The brain's opioid receptors actively bind to the hydrocodone in Vicodin, which means that dependency—and the withdrawal it yields—often occurs quickly.

Both recreational and prescription Vicodin users can develop an addiction, so it should come as no surprise that according to some estimates, prescription painkillers like Vicodin now kill around 44 people each day.

Causes of Vicodin Withdrawal

Vicodin activates the brain's opioid receptors, steadily changing brain chemistry and affecting levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine. These changes mean that your brain can't feel “normal” without Vicodin, so when you suddenly stop using, you can expect symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

In some cases, more serious psychological symptoms, such as hallucinations or suicidal thoughts, may occur.

Because the body can also grow dependent on Vicodin, it's common to experience physical symptoms as well.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms usually rear their ugly head around the time you'd be getting your next Vicodin fix. If you use Vicodin every 3 hours, expect to experience cravings around the 3-hour mark.

Cravings get steadily worse over the first few days, peaking around the 7th day and then dramatically tapering off.

Though you may still continue to crave Vicodin after the detox period, the cravings will be mild compared to the overpowering urges you'll experience in the days immediately following your sobriety.

Woman with depression

Some of the most common symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal include:

  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Delusions and hallucinations.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Sweating and shaking.
  • Disturbing dreams.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Headaches and unexplained muscle pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

If you notice these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, do not panic, the appropriate treatment can help you get off Vicodin and resume a healthy lifestyle.

For information on Vicodin signs and symptoms and addiction treatment options available in your area, please call us at 1-888-993-3112Who Answers? today.

Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms

Vicodin typically produces more severe withdrawal symptoms than non-opioid prescription drugs, but even so, the severity of withdrawal depends on some factors.

You're likely to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms and difficulty detoxing if:

  • You use large quantities of Vicodin.
  • You have abused the drug for an extended period.
  • You have a history of health issues or mental health struggles.

Prescription IconIf you use Vicodin for chronic pain, you may experience intense pain as you detox.

After the process is complete, your doctor may be able to prescribe you a less addictive option for managing pain.

Treatment for Vicodin Withdrawal

Vicodin withdrawal is extremely challenging and can even endanger your health, particularly if you have a history of cardiovascular or immune system difficulties.

Though you may be able to detox on your own if your symptoms aren't severe, your odds of staying sober without professional assistance are slim.

Vicodin is one of the world's most addictive drugs. Indeed, some former Vicodin addicts even turn to heroin when they can no longer use Vicodin, so professional treatment is a must.

Vicodin is an opiate, which means that withdrawal symptoms can be reduced with the use of Methadone.

Because Methadone is itself potentially addictive, your doctor will need to weigh the relative risks and benefits of its use.

Your doctor may also use medication to treat individual symptoms. For instance, if you experience anxiety, your provider may recommend a benzodiazepine drug.

Likewise, muscle relaxants can help with the muscle pain Vicodin withdrawal often causes. Any addict is vulnerable to a subsequent addiction, though, so ask your doctor if the benefits of these potentially addictive drugs outweigh the risks.

Inpatient Vicodin Treatment vs. Outpatient Programs

  • Inpatient Rehab

    Because of Vicodin's highly addictive nature, many addicts make the most progress in inpatient rehab. You'll have the security of a supportive, drug-free environment where you'll get therapy and group support, as well as the medical assistance you need to get through the detox process.

    If you began taking Vicodin because of a medical problem, your rehab doctor can help you find better ways of coping.

  • Partial Hospitalization/Intensive Outpatient Treatment

    If you like the idea of intensive treatment but can't take time off of work or away from your family, partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient treatment programs are a good compromise. With such a program, you'll get the supportive care you expect in rehab, but you'll also get to go home at the end of each day.

  • Therapy and Other Programs

    Of course, inpatient care isn't right for everyone. Therapy, supportive care from a compassionate doctor, a 12-step program such as Pills Anonymous and the right lifestyle changes can all help you on your journey to sobriety. Many addicts find that exercising expedites the withdrawal process and distracts them from their cravings.

Help Someone Through Withdrawal

Seek medical care if your loved one has intense withdrawal symptoms.You can't force a loved one to seek treatment or give up Vicodin, but you can offer a supportive environment that makes the withdrawal process less challenging.

Some Vicodin addicts become extremely depressed, even suicidal, so it's a good idea to stay nearby. Offer a break from the pain of detox by taking your loved one on an outing or signing up for a class together.

If your loved one has intense withdrawal symptoms, seek medical care. In many cases, you might have to provide supportive assistance by cooking meals or bringing your loved one water since Vicodin addiction can make self-care difficult.

If your loved one becomes suicidal, cannot keep down any food, suffers from severe dehydration or develops seizures or hallucinations, treat it as a medical emergency and go to your local emergency room.

Never give an addict drugs to counteract the problem, especially not more Vicodin. With the right support, even the most down and out addicts can recover.

If you need help for yourself or a loved one, reach out by calling 1-888-993-3112Who Answers? today.

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