Typically prescribed to patients by doctors to help with pain after surgery, Vicodin is the brand name for a common pain reliever that contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
Vicodin is an opioid pain medication and can become addictive. Some individuals will form a tolerance to Vicodin and will have to take a larger dose for it to be effective. If someone is physically dependent on Vicodin, withdrawal symptoms will occur once an individual stops taking the drug.
Those who consistently take more than 325 mg of acetaminophen often end up in the emergency room due to overdose and it is common for people to have allergic reactions and/or liver damage when taking large doses of acetaminophen. The FDA changed the guidelines on products containing acetaminophen, specifically the amount that can be used in painkillers like Vicodin (hydrocodone) and Percocet (oxycodone) to contain only 325 mg in 2011. People who are going to take cold and flu medicines in addition to these painkillers should be aware of how much acetaminophen is in them to avoid overdose.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Vicodin
Vicodin’s half-life is approximately 4 hours and within 8 hours it completely leaves the body. This is when withdrawal symptoms begin. Withdrawal symptoms for Vicodin can be similar to symptoms of other opioid medications and can include:
- Drug Cravings
- Dilated Pupils
- Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting
- Rapid Breathing
- Mood Swings
- Flu like Symptoms
- Loss of Appetite
- Goosebumps or Chills
- Muscle Aches and Cramps
Withdrawal & Detox Timeline from Vicodin
Vicodin withdrawal and detox symptoms typically last 7-10 days. Depending on the individual, symptoms can go on for weeks or months. A syndrome called PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome) may occur in some individuals and may last for months after the onset of withdrawal symptoms which can make detox psychologically difficult. Individuals who experience PAWS will greatly benefit from inpatient treatment with 24 hour medical supervision and support.
The symptoms and severity of Vicodin detox & withdrawal are affected by many factors, including:
Length of use: Vicodin detox & withdrawal symptoms are typically minimal, if they occur at all, when the drug is taken as prescribed. Once a person has taken it long enough to become addicted to it, or has built a tolerance to it, withdrawal symptoms will be more severe.
Dose: A person can become tolerant to the drug and will need to take more for the drug to have the same effect, just like other opioids. Sometimes, a larger dose is prescribed for a particular medical reason. If the body is used to larger amounts of the medication, symptoms will be worse once withdrawal begins.
Addiction: Addiction involves the psychological compulsiveness that occurs and makes Vicodin detox and withdrawal more severe. An individual must overcome the psychological side of withdrawal, in addition to physical symptoms, which makes the process more difficult to cope with.
Method of quitting: More severe Vicodin detox and withdrawal symptoms can occur without medical detox. Medications like buprenorphine or methadone can be used in a medical setting and will make the process more comfortable and wean the body from the drug. Support from nurses, staff members and therapists can also make a big impact during detox.
Naloxone (branded Narcan) has become more common in the treatment of opioid addiction and can be administered to people who are suffering from an overdose. Naloxone temporarily stops the brain from absorbing the opioid medication by quickly filling the receptors and will stop the symptoms of overdose long enough to get the person to the hospital. Naloxone leaves the body more quickly than the opiates do and it doesn’t stop the overdose, but it does provide a window of time to get medical treatment for the overdose. Because of this, it is not used in the clinical treatment of withdrawal, however, it is still being studied for potential use in that capacity
Other Methods of Treatment
Medications like buprenorphine or methadone may be used to manage severe Vicodin detox and withdrawal symptoms during medical detox. They trick the body into thinking it is still receiving the opiates it is used to and then these medications are tapered off until the body is drug free.
Medication free therapies such as acupuncture, massage, or meditation can help during the Vicodin detox process. The medical detox process becomes easier for an individual to cope with if they are relaxed and comfortable. Medical detox also provides 24-hour support that will help with any urge to relapse.
During Vicodin detox and withdrawal, Resolutions Behavioral Health will provide a supportive and comprehensive medical environment throughout all stages of detoxification to ensure a successful recovery. If you or a loved one need help, call one of our professional admissions team members today for a free and confidential assessment.