Vicodin (Hydrocodone) Addiction, Detox, and Rehab

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What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is one of the most misused prescription drugs in the United States. It is a painkiller that combines the opioid, hydrocodone, and the non-steroidal analgesic acetaminophen. Since its development in 1983, doctors have used it to treat moderate to severe pain in patients. While highly effective for pain management, it is highly addictive. Some people become dependent on Vicodin through a prescription and some through illegal use. Either way, once a Vicodin addiction develops, reaching sobriety can be challenging.

The FDA categorizes Vicodin in the Schedule II class of drugs belonging to the narcotics (opioid) category. Prescription drugs are classified according to their potential for addiction. A schedule II drug has a high potential for addiction and is only prescribed when over-the-counter medication is ineffective.

Vicodin Addiction FAQs

What Is Vicodin Prescribed For?


Vicodin is often prescribed after dental procedures, injuries, or chronic pain. It used to be so often prescribed by doctors that patients would often be left with a surplus. This is how it began to be sold on the illegal market and became a popularly misused drug. However, Vicodin has been watched over the past couple of years and is not as frequently prescribed.

How Does Vicodin Work?


Vicodin works by suppressing the central nervous system. It binds to nerve receptors in the brain, increasing pain tolerance. Like other opioids, this creates a euphoric high, and relaxing effect on the body. This makes Vicodin highly addictive. The more Vicodin is used, the higher the tolerance for it and the more the body craves the effects. As the body grows more tolerant, it requires a higher dose to feel the effects. This creates a cycle of dependence upon Vicodin.

What Does Vicodin Look Like?


Vicodin comes in a round or football-shaped pill. Generic Vicodin will also come with a V on it for reference. The brand-name pills may also be distinguishable by blue or yellow-colored tablets.

How Strong Is Vicodin?


The opioid in Vicodin, hydrocodone, is not as potent as other opioids such as Oxycodone. However, it can still be highly addictive. Additionally, the strength of each Vicodin tablet varies by the amount of hydrocodone. All tablets have 300mg of Acetaminophen and either 5 mg, 7.5 mg, or 10mg of Hydrocodone.

How Does Vicodin Compare to Other Prescription Opioids?


Many prescription painkillers are effective in treating pain. However, some are safer to use than others. Compared to more potent opioids like fentanyl and morphine, Vicodin can be a safer option. However, Vicodin is still a Schedule II substance to its dangers of addiction. There are also other hydrocodone drugs such as Norco and Percocet that are available. These tend to be stronger than Vicodin and have more side effects.


How Much Vicodin Should You Take?

A Dosage Guide

Vicodin is usually prescribed in the following quantities and should be taken as prescribed.

5 mg Hydrocodone/300 mg Acetaminophen- One to two tablets every four to six hours. Daily dosage should not exceed eight tablets.

7.5 mg Hydrocodone/300 mg Acetaminophen- One tablet every four to six hours. The daily dose should not exceed six tablets.

10 mg Hydrocodone/300 mg Acetaminophen- One tablet every four to six hours. The daily dose should not exceed six tablets.


How Long Does Vicodin Stay in the System?


The effects of Vicodin will usually last for four hours. However, traces can remain in one’s body for months and be found in hair samples. The amount of time it takes to leave the system will differ and depend on other factors such as.

  • Body fat content
  • Body mass
  • Age
  • Liver health
  • Quantity of the last dose taken
  • How long use has been going on



One should take precautions when using Vicodin, even when prescribed. The FDA mandates the following warnings on Vicodin prescriptions.

  • Increased risk of accident and injury: Vicodin can cause sleepiness and poor concentration increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. Therefore, one should not drive or operate heavy machinery while using it.
  • Increased risk of severe hypotension: Opioids can dangerously lower blood pressure in some people. If one has any history of low blood pressure, notify a doctor as it might be affected.
  • Increased risk of liver damage: A high dose of acetaminophen can damage the liver and even be fatal.


Can Vicodin Be Dangerous?


While Vicodin is an effective painkiller, it does carry significant risks. Hydrocodone, one of the critical components of Vicodin, can slow or stop your breathing. This has caused many emergencies room visits and can be fatal if not treated. The acetaminophen in Vicodin can cause liver damage when consumed in large amounts. Liver failure is the leading cause of fatality in Vicodin fatalities. A doctor will assess prior risks before prescribing Vicodin to limit the risks. To avoid potential trouble, factors such as previous health history and other drug interactions will be discussed. When used illicitly, the risk is heightened since such factors are not often considered.

Another danger Vicodin presents is in the Vicodin detox process. It can create severe discomfort and should only be done in a professional drug detox center. Vicodin withdrawal can last several days. As the body rids itself of the addictive substance, it will create symptoms like slowed breathing and accelerated heart rates. In a drug rehab treatment setting, medical professionals trained in the opioid detox process will carefully monitor progress and ensure comfort as much as possible. The best and safest way to detox from Vicodin at a drug rehab program specializing in opioid detox.

Vicodin Addiction Potential


One of the most significant risks of Vicodin use is its potential for addiction. The body craves the “high” feeling the drug provides, making it highly addictive. It is also a fast-acting drug that metabolizes quickly, which increases its potential for addiction. Approximately one million people in the United States are misusing Vicodin every year. Amongst patients who are prescribed Vicodin, there is 6% that develop a dependence on it. Although, the highest rate of Vicodin dependence is amongst those not prescribed Vicodin but get it illegally. However, once someone is addicted, there is not much difference based on how the addiction began.


Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Misuse


The symptoms of Vicodin abuse are much like those of other opioid addictions.

Some of the more noticeable signs of Vicodin dependence are.

  • Drowsiness.
  • Obsession with procuring and consuming Vicodin.
  • Unable to focus on a given task.
  • Extreme anxiety and paranoia.
  • Severe mood swings.
  • Nausea and vomiting.


The effects of Vicodin will be felt by most people who take it, even in small amounts. Even those with prescriptions may still feel the side effects.

These are some of the common ones.

  • Itching.
  • Swelling.
  • Weakness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Vomiting and upset stomach.


Vicodin Use and Abuse Statistics in the USA

  • In the USA, approximately 47,000 opioid doses are available for every million people.
  • 12 million people in the USA reported prescription opioid use in the past year
  • The DEA reports that Vicodin is the most prescribed opioid in the USA
  • In 2019, according to the CDC, an average of 38 people dies each day from prescription opioids


Vicodin Addiction Detox and Rehab Treatment


The first step to recovery from a Vicodin addiction is detox. During this stage, a recovering user will experience withdrawal symptoms that can be challenging and uncomfortable. It is best to recover at a drug detox facility where medical oversight and support are provided. After the acute withdrawal symptoms pass, the best next step is to enter inpatient drug rehab. With the professional guidance and support offered by drug and alcohol rehab centers such as Avenues , the road to recovery is very much within reach.


A History of Vicodin -- New York Magazine - Nymag
Efficacy and safety of Opioids - Consumer Reports
Vicodin Dosage Guide -
Opioid Crisis Statistics [2022]: Prescription Opioid Abuse (
Prescription Opioid Data | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center
Vicodin vs. Percocet: Differences, dosing, interactions, and more (
Vicodin Uses, Side Effects & Safety Information -
Prescription Opioid Overdose Death Maps | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center

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