What is Vicodin?

Vicodin Side Effects, Withdrawal, and Detox

What is Vicodin

Vicodin Side Effects, Withdrawal, and Detox

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin, also known as Hydrocodone (generic name), is a high-intensity, pain-relieving medicine. It is part of the opioid class, i.e., a type of narcotic that should only be consumed under a doctor’s prescription. Like all opioids, it is highly potent and can easily cause addiction.

Vicodin is a mixture of Acetaminophen and Hydrocodone, designed to relieve all types of pain, but its use is primarily aimed at people with conditions that cause a high amount of pain, like cancer, broken bones, or recovering from major surgery.


VICODIN is White, Elliptical / Oval and has been identified as Vicodin 500 mg / 5 mg. 1

What does a high feel like?

Vicodin can produce feelings of euphoria, reduced social anxiety, feeling contentment, and overall feelings of well-being. It can also make you tired, with many people reporting “nodding off” or helping them fall asleep at night. Other people report being aware of their pain but no longer caring about it.

History

Early History

Two chemists from Germany, named Carl Mannich and Helene Lowenheim, created hydrocodone in 1920. It received FDA approval in the US in 1943.

Several countries, including the US, classified hydrocodone as a dangerous class A drug in 1971. But hydrocodone combined with acetaminophen was put in a lower category of drugs, resulting in less stringent regulation.

Early History
Brand-Name Vicodin

Vicodin was first sold as a brand name in 1978. It was five milligrams of hydrocodone with 500 milligrams of acetaminophen. In 1983, generic Vicodin became widely available. 

Between 1990 and 2002, emergency room visits involving hydrocodone increased 500%

Brand-Name Vicodin
Extended Release Vicodin

One drug company, Abbot, planned on selling an extended-release version of Vicodin, but faced with overwhelming evidence of its danger, the FDA denied approval. Abbot had hired 200 sales representatives to market aggressively the extended-release version, showing how complicit the drug companies are in US opioid epidemic.

Extended Release Vicodin
Growth of Recreational Use and Abuse

Hydrocodone diversion and recreational use have escalated in recent years due to its opioid effects.2 In 2009 and 2010, hydrocodone was the second-most frequently encountered opioid pharmaceutical in drug evidence submitted to U.S. federal, state, and local forensic laboratories as reported by DEA’s National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) and System to Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence (STRIDE).3

Growth of Recreational Use and Abuse

Signs of Vicodin Abuse

Mental

  • Euphoria
  • Feelings of well-being
  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia

Physical

  • Physical urges for the drug
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Slow breathing
  • Drowsiness

Behaviors

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Becoming distant from friends and family
  • Ignoring responsibilities
  • Losing focus
  • Taking unusual risks
  • Stopping activities that were liked
  • Forging prescriptions or going to multiple doctors
  • Ignoring the bad consequences that stem from the drug use
  • Lying or stealing to get money
  • Taking drugs prescribed to someone else
  • Covering up the Vicodin abuse

Serious Conditions Caused by Vicodin

Addiction

If this opioid drug is used improperly, it can lead to addiction, resulting in excessive consumption that can lead to death. That is why it is important to take as directed and to keep it out of the reach of others.

Causes of Vicodin Addiction

Vicodin blocks the pain receptors of the brain to give relief to those taking it. The feelings of relief and relaxation can become addictive. Over time, a person builds a tolerance for the drug, requiring more to get the same result. Higher dosages cause a higher risk of addiction.

Liver Damage

Vicodin overdose can lead to direct liver disease or death. You should immediately seek medical care if you are taking Vicodin and you have pain in the upper abdomen, dark urine, loss of appetite, or jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).

During Pregnancy and While Breast Feeding

This medication can’t be used during pregnancy since it can cause withdrawal symptoms that can compromise the health of the baby, and lead to death.4 You should not use this drug if you are breastfeeding because it can slip through the breast milk, causing drowsiness, respiratory complications, and even death of the infant.

Other Serious Conditions:5

Adrenal gland problems

Decreased function of the adrenal gland

Dangerous decrease in body water

Hallucination

Colon Problems

Pancreatitis

Seizures

Blocked bowels

Low white blood cell levels

Giant hives

Hearing loss

Uncontrolled muscle contractions

Paralysis of the intestines

Swollen vocal cords

What You Should Tell Your Doctor 

You should not take this medication if you have allergies to its two components, hydrocodone or acetaminophen. Also, you should not take it if you suffer from:

Any respiratory condition, such as asthma or pneumothorax

Recurrent obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract

Tell the doctor if you have ever suffered from:

  • Liver disease
  • Addiction to alcohol or any other drug
  • Nephritic damage
  • Any cerebral contusions or convulsions
  • Problems urinating
  • Trouble with organs such as the pancreas, thyroid gland, or gallbladder

Withdrawal and Detoxification

Main withdrawal symptoms that can be observed are the following:

Anxiety

Muscle aches

Problems sleeping

Nasal secretions

Agitation

Watery eyes/Increased tearing

Yawning

Sweating

Vicodin Detoxification

The detoxification process must be done gradually for the safety of the patient. The doctor will create a plan that slowly lowers the amount of the opioid in your system over time. If detox is done correctly, there is little risk of harm to the patient.

In rehab, the doctor should do the following:

  • Monitor pulse, temperature, and blood pressure
  • Take urine or blood samples to track your levels of the drug
  • Prescribe medications that can help manage the signs and symptoms of withdrawal, such as drowsiness, loss of hunger, and behavioral disorders
  • Teach you safer ways to control your pain
  • Make referrals to specialists, as needed
  • Educate family members to strengthen your support group

To succeed during detox, you must follow the plan created by your doctor.6 There will be difficult times, which will cause anxiety, and most patients question whether or not they can get sober. Continue with the plan, and you will eventually succeed.

There is a high occurrence of relapse, so ongoing support is important. Your rehab facility will offer services and help you find support groups to minimize the risk of relapse.

Misconceptions

It Can’t Happen To Me

The biggest misconception that people have about Vicodin is that they will not get addicted. However, 60% of overdoses happen to those who use prescriptions from their doctor, not those who obtained it illegally.

Health specialists have the task of acting as guardians, prescribing opioids only when necessary and monitoring the effects that may occur in the patient. But “this action is something that not all doctors do properly,” argued Richard Blondell, M.D., director of the National Addiction Training Center.7 Among other statements, he said, “Let there be no doubt, the community must be better informed about all the risks of consumption. But finally, this epidemic starts when the doctor provides his prescription booklet”.

It is Good at Treating Chronic Pain

Another misconception is that Vicodin works well for chronic pain, which is pain that lasts three months or more. You can develop a tolerance for hydrocodone in a short time, even as short as five days. Once you start needing higher doses, the side effects end up reducing your quality of life.8

Extended-Release Opioids Reduce the Chance of Addiction

Some people believe that extended-release medication is safer. It is now clear that extended-release opioids do nothing to lessen the chances of addiction. They are often prescribed for convenience and stay in your system for a long time. There is also no proof that they are more effective at treating pain.

Statistics

Data from certain studies indicates that 13% of people (6.5% of women and 19.9% of men) have used Vicodin illegally at least once in their lives.

Illegal Use of Vicodin in a Lifetime
13%

In the last year, 57.7% of all Vicodin users contemplate patterns of excessive use. For every two users, one presents some problem of addiction. This ratio is the highest in men.

Vicodin Users that Contemplated Patterns
57.7%

Drugs including Vicodin are being taken by young people aged between 18 and 24, with a percentage of 8.7% in adolescents, and 4.3% in 25 to 34 year-olds.

18-24 Years Old Using Vicodin 8.7%
25-34 Years Old Using Vicodin 4.3%

At least 3.3% of those surveyed said they had consumed Vicodin at least once in the past year: 54% for men and 1.3% for women. These figures are from a study with 762 people.

The recurrent use of any type of illicit drug, including Vicodin, is prevalent among 839,000 people. Consumption is more frequent among men (5.9%) than among women (1.4%).

Men that Consume Vicodin 5.9%
Women that Consume Vicodin 1.4%

484,000 people are eligible for special assistance to reduce doses or stop drug use. The ratio of those receiving assistance is one woman for every four men.

As in several parts of the world, Vicodin is an illicit substance and can only be consumed with a medical prescription. In a different study, 11.5% of those surveyed claims to have used Vicodin at least once in their lifetime, 17.6% of men and 5.6% of women.

Men that Consumed Vicodin in lifetime
17.6%
Women that Consumed Vicodin in lifetime
5.6%

It should be noted that the use of narcotics such as Vicodin witnessed a considerable increase. Projecting current consumption from a national perspective (from 33.8% to 35.8%), with an increase in women (from 22.8% to 25.95%) in the age group between 18 and 34. 

Real Stories

Tiger Woods

In May 2017, professional golfer Tiger Woods was arrested by the police for driving under the influence. Woods said that this was due to four prescription drugs that he was taking for a back operation, one of which was Vicodin.9

Amy

Amy sustained knee injuries while playing soccer when she was 14. Over the years she was prescribed Vicodin and other opioids. She became addicted and started using dangerous behavior to get more drugs. She started causing herself harm, and eventually crashed her car into a dumpster at over 40 mph.10

Chris

Chris was hurt while working as a plumber’s apprentice. He received a prescription for opioids. His withdrawal consumed him, and he struggled to function. One day while at work he deliberately smashed his arm and hand in a door to receive more drugs.11

Popular Culture

Vicodin is mentioned in songs such as Eminem’s “Kill You”, Blackbear’s “Sniffing Vicodin in Paris”, Kendrick Lamar’s “A.D.H.D”, Future’s “Lay Up”, Lupe Fiasco’s “Mural”, Queens of the Stone Age’s “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”, A Winged Victory for the Sullen’s “Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears” and The Wombats’ “Give Me a Try”.12

Vicodin use is a central theme in the 2004–2012 medical TV drama House, in which the lead character Dr. Gregory House is addicted to it.13

Recovery from Vicodin Addiction

The detox process from hydrocodone can be difficult, and relapse is common. A residential treatment center can provide the planning and medical monitoring you need. Residential treatment can also provide education and support to avoid relapse.