Like with most prescription opioids, discontinuing the use of Vicodin suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms that are usually unpleasant and range from mild to severe. Although there is a general timeline along which the symptoms tend to present, their duration can vary from one individual to the next.
Withdrawal symptoms that can manifest when hydrocodone (which is contained in Vicodin) use is stopped may include the following:
- Muscle aches/pains
- Runny nose
- Chills or sweating
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances
- Poor concentration
- Drug cravings
- Irregular heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Suicidal ideations
These unpleasant symptoms may persist for up to 7 days, and psycho-emotional symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, may last for much longer. For this reason and others, a Vicodin dependence is most effectively treated using a medical detox followed by long-term substance abuse treatment.
What Is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a combination product that contains the opioid hydrocodone and the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen. Hydrocodone products are among the most commonly used medications in the United States, despite the fact that this drug is considered to have a relatively high potential for abuse and addiction.
Hydrocodone works in the brain and body by increasing dopamine levels and attaching to opioid receptors throughout the CNS. This action produces a depressant effect that can decrease breathing and heart rate, blood pressure, and lower body temperature.
When used as prescribed for acute injuries on a short-term basis, hydrocodone is considered to be safe. When abused, however, dependence can develop rapidly, and amounts over-and-above recommended doses can lead to profound central nervous system (CNS) depression, coma, and death.
Also, using Vicodin with other CNS depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, can be very hazardous. Chronic use can result in tolerance, dependence, and full-blown addiction.
Tolerance and Dependence
When an individual uses vicodin regularly for a prolonged period, the drug’s effects to be diminished, and more and more will be required to achieve the sought-after results. This condition is referred to as tolerance. Unfortunately, using ever-increasing doses can expedite dependence and, ultimately, vicodin addiction.
When a person has become physically dependent on a drug, such as hydrocodone, sudden cessation of use is shortly followed by highly uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms result from the body and brain actively working to reestablish stability.
During this time, respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature may increase significantly. For this reason, it is never advised to terminate the use of a hydrocodone product without seeking medical intervention.
Timeline for Withdrawal
Hydrocodone withdrawal generally onsets between 6-12 hours after the last dose. Opioid withdrawal symptoms usually reach their peak in about three days, and physical symptoms can last as long as a week. As noted, psycho-emotional symptoms and cravings may endure for much longer.
The severity of a person’s Vicodin abuse issues and its duration can influence a person’s withdrawal process. This process can include various withdrawal symptoms, their intensity, and the period in which they persist.
Moreover, the longer and more heavily a drug is used, the higher the likelihood that a significant chemical dependence will have developed. Certain underlying psycho-emotional or physical problems may also affect the withdrawal process in an unpleasant way.
Detox for Hydrocodone Addiction and Treatment
Medical detox is a method that health professionals use to help purge a person’s system of toxic substances after they have quit using drugs or alcohol. Detox can be conducted on either an outpatient or inpatient basis. The important thing is that a skilled medical professional closely supervises the individual and addresses symptoms and complications if they arise.
Medical detox can help minimize the worst effects of hydrocodone withdrawal and ensure the individual remains comfortable and safe while the treatment is taking place. A detox program may also help to steer a person away from relapse and serve as an ideal beginning to the recovery process.
Detox is just the beginning, and much more work is needed to nurture sobriety on a long-term basis. Other evidence-based treatments should follow detox, such as behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, peer group support, substance abuse education, and aftercare planning.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer therapeutic services such as these, which work to relieve an individual’s mental and physical discomfort and dramatically reduce the likelihood of relapse. We aim to help those we treat to achieve abstinence and give them the tools and support they need to sustain long-term wellness and sobriety.