If you are in an immediate emergency, call 911. If you are looking for more information on substance abuse treatment and it is not a medical emergency, call our 24/7 Vicodin Helpline at 844-897-9118.
Vicodin was a brand-name drug that contains a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. The Vicodin brand has been discontinued, but a generic form of the drug is still available. The generic form is often referred to by its old brand name. As a Schedule II narcotic, Vicodin carries a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence.
What Is Vicodin Used For?
Vicodin was used to treat pain severe enough to require an opioid. The drug’s two components treat pain in different ways:
- Hydrocodone: This opioid binds to the central nervous system’s mu opioid receptors. Opioids like hydrocodone can affect how someone senses pain and may change how pain signals are sent to the brain.
- Acetaminophen: This is an analgesic (pain reliever) added to improve Vicodin’s pain-relieving effects.
Because Vicodin is no longer available as a brand name, it is sold as its generic equivalent: hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Several other brand-name medications include this combination, such as Lortab, Verdrocet and Xodol. Other discontinued brand names for acetaminophen and hydrocodone include Lorcet and Norco.
Vicodin was available as an oral tablet in several different doses, including:
- Hydrocodone 5 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg
- Hydrocodone 7.5 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg
- Hydrocodone 10 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg
Because the combination is available as generic acetaminophen/hydrocodone and as other brand names, it also comes in a variety of doses with different ratios of acetaminophen to hydrocodone. These include:
- Hydrocodone 2.5 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg
- Hydrocodone 5 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg
- Hydrocodone 7.5 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg
- Hydrocodone 10 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg
The usual adult dosage of Vicodin was one to two tabs every four to six hours as needed for pain.
Is Vicodin Addictive?
As a Schedule II controlled substance, Vicodin carried a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. This is due to the presence of hydrocodone in the drug. Opioids like hydrocodone are highly addictive. When someone takes Vicodin, they may experience not only pain relief but also a euphoric or pleasant high due to the drug’s effects on the brain. This effect can trigger a reward response. When that happens, the brain is compelled to seek out whatever created the reward response, which is how addiction develops.
Before a doctor prescribed Vicodin to someone, they would go over the person’s full medical history. This includes the person’s history of substance abuse or addiction. Using Vicodin only for a short period of time and exactly as prescribed can lower the risk of becoming addicted, but that risk doesn’t altogether disappear. Along with addiction, a dependence on Vicodin can form. When someone’s dependent on Vicodin, they will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the drug.
Vicodin Abuse Statistics
Vicodin is a significant part of the opioid epidemic in the United States. The opioid epidemic refers to the staggering number of overdose deaths related to the drug class. Statistics that illustrate the impact of Vicodin and other opioids include:
- Almost 92,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2020.
- In 2020, more than 56,000 deaths involved prescription opioid pain relievers like Vicodin.
- Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opioid in the United States.
- In 2017, American poison control centers reported 1,810 total hydrocodone exposures.
- About 5.5 million Americans misused hydrocodone in 2018.
Vicodin vs. Norco
Vicodin and Norco are very similar drugs. They are both oral medications that contain hydrocodone and acetaminophen, and both are Schedule II controlled substances used for pain.
However, Vicodin has been discontinued as a brand name and is only available as a generic drug, while Norco is available as a brand-name and generic medication. In addition, they come in slightly different ratios of hydrocodone to acetaminophen.
|Generic Vicodin doses||Norco doses|
|Hydrocodone 5 mg, acetaminophen 300 mgHydrocodone 7.5 mg, acetaminophen 300 mgHydrocodone 10 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg||Hydrocodone 5 mg, acetaminophen 325 mgHydrocodone 7.5 mg, acetaminophen 325 mgHydrocodone 10 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg|
Vicodin Side Effects
Vicodin’s side effects were similar to those of other opioids and include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slowed breathing
- Itchy skin
Vicodin and Alcohol
Mixing Vicodin and alcohol can be dangerous. The acetaminophen component of Vicodin and its generic equivalents can cause severe liver damage when mixed with alcohol. Further, both hydrocodone and alcohol are central nervous system depressants that slow down the central nervous system. Due to the drug interaction between them, it can be dangerous to use hydrocodone and alcohol together. Mixing them can increase the risk of overdose and cause side effects like:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Problems with thinking and judgment
Vicodin isn’t dangerous solely because of its potential for addiction and dependence. One of the primary risks of using any opioid is overdose. When opioid receptor sites are affected by hydrocodone, it can slow down the central nervous system’s functionality. The central nervous system controls essential functions such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.
If a person takes a dose of Vicodin that’s higher than what their central nervous system can handle, their breathing may slow to a dangerous or deadly level. There is also a risk due to the presence of acetaminophen. At normal doses, acetaminophen is considered a safe medication. At higher doses, it can cause liver damage, including acute liver failure.
A hydrocodone overdose is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is overdosing, administer the opioid reversal agent naloxone and seek emergency medical attention by calling 911.
If you take Vicodin or its generics on a regular basis and suddenly stop, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. This is because Vicodin can cause physical dependence. When you are physically dependent on Vicodin, your body becomes used to its presence and adapts to the drug. If you stop taking the drug or significantly decrease your dose, your body will need to adapt, which leads to withdrawal symptoms.
Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms
Vicodin can cause withdrawal symptoms similar to those of other opioids. These symptoms can start between eight and 24 hours after the last dose and can last up to 10 days. Symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hot and cold flashes
- Muscle cramps
- Runny eyes and nose
How Long Does Vicodin Stay in Your System?
Vicodin was a short-acting drug that wears off quickly, and was typically dosed every four to six hours as needed. However, it can linger in your system for longer than that. The length of time Vicodin can be found in your body depends on what is being tested:
- Urine: Traces of Vicodin remain in your urine for up to three days after the last dose.
- Blood: Vicodin can be found in your blood for up to 8.8 hours following the last dose.
- Saliva: Vicodin can be detected in saliva for up to two days after the last use.
- Hair: A 1.5-inch sample of hair can show the past 90 days of Vicodin use.
In addition, other factors can influence whether Vicodin shows up on a drug test. These include:
- Your dose of Vicodin
- How often you take Vicodin
- How you take Vicodin (for example, by mouth versus snorting the drug)
- Your age
- Your body composition
- Your sex
- Any other health conditions you have
- Whether you take any other medications
- Your hydration and nutritional status
Vicodin detox is the process of cleansing your system of Vicodin or its generic forms when you stop taking the drug. Because withdrawal symptoms can be hard to overcome on your own, it’s safest to undergo Vicodin detox in a supervised setting, such as a medical detox facility.
In a medical detox facility, you receive around-the-clock care from doctors and nurses who can give you the most comfortable detox possible and treat withdrawal symptoms as they arise. In addition, medication-assisted treatment with methadone or buprenorphine may be used as medically appropriate.
Vicodin Addiction Treatment
Detox is just the first step in treating a Vicodin addiction. It is important to undergo a rehab program after detox, as research shows that it takes at least 90 days of treatment to reduce your risk of relapse.
Rehab can take place in a variety of settings, and you can choose the setting that best meets your needs. These include:
- Inpatient rehab: Also known as residential rehab, inpatient rehab involves living onsite at the facility so you can focus full-time on your recovery
- Partial hospitalization program: This program is a transition step between inpatient and outpatient rehab that involves more unstructured time between sessions.
- Intensive outpatient rehab: During this type of rehab, you stay in a sober living environment but routinely return to the facility for treatment each week.
- Outpatient rehab: In outpatient rehab, you live in a supportive environment and continue your rehab, but you spend less time in treatment than in an intensive program.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Vicodin, help is available at the Orlando Recovery Center. Contact us today to learn more about Vicodin addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation.
You May Be Interested In
Opioid withdrawal symptoms are a natural part of the detox process, but these symptoms may need to be managed with medication or supervision by a medical professional.
Although there are more men than women who self-report a drug addiction, women are more likely to abuse opioids and become addicted more quickly.
Kratom is a medicinal plant that interacts with opioid receptors and has the potential for abuse similar to that of opioids and opiates.
It can be hard to recover from opioid addiction alone. If you’re struggling to stop using opioids, our addiction experts can help support you throughout your healing journey.
Many variables affect how long fentanyl will stay in your system after you take it including your age, weight, genetics, and more.
Drugs.com. “Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen.” May 1, 2021. Accessed February 3, 2022.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “Hydrocodone.” October 2019. Accessed February 3, 2022.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Overdose Death Rates.” January 20, 2022. Accessed February 3, 2022.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Overdose Crisis.” March 11, 2021. Accessed February 3, 2022.
Drugs.com. “Norco.” March 1, 2021. Accessed February 3, 2022.
Drugs.com. “Vicodin.” July 22, 2021. Accessed February 3, 2022.
Drugs.com. “Drug Interaction Report.” Accessed February 3, 2022.
World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Manag[…]e in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed February 3, 2022.
Gryczynski, Jan; Schwartz, Robert P.; Mitchell, Shannon D.; et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-repor[…]isk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, May 17, 2014. Accessed February 3, 2022.
ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” October 2021. Accessed February 3, 2022.
Cansford Laboratories. “Oral Fluid (Saliva) Testing.” Accessed February 3, 2022.
ARUP Laboratories. “Therapeutic Drug Monitoring.” June 2021. Accessed February 3, 2022.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: […]uide (Third Edition).” January 2018. Accessed February 3, 2022.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.