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Vicodin Abuse Symptoms, Side Effects, and Addiction Treatment

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What Is Vicodin Used For?

Physicians often prescribe Vicodin—a combination of hydrocodone (an opiate) and acetaminophen—for the relief of moderate-to-severe pain. It works by blocking pain receptors in the brain, but it also induces a sense of euphoria, making it extremely effective but also highly addictive.

Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse

People who take Vicodin tend to feel a rush of euphoria and relaxation, in addition to a noticeable decrease in pain. Over time, however, users develop a tolerance for the drug, and they will require more and more Vicodin to achieve the same results.


The most noticeable signs and symptoms of Vicodin abuse are:

  • Appearing drowsy.
  • An obsession with procuring and consuming Vicodin.
  • An inability to focus on a given task.
  • Extreme anxiety and paranoia.
  • Severe mood swings.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Vicodin abusers often turn to fraudulent means, such as “doctor shopping,” to procure more and more of the drug. Because of their intense focus on Vicodin, everything else in their lives takes a back seat, and their personal, professional, and financial situations may begin to unravel.

Side Effects of Vicodin Abuse

It doesn’t take much to feel the effects of Vicodin use. Even casual users or those closely following a prescription dose may experience:

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

If Vicodin is taken for a prolonged period of time, abuse of this drug can cause medical issues, including liver damage or liver failure, jaundice, and urinary system issues.

Because it is a central nervous system depressant, Vicodin naturally decreases a person’s heart rate and respiration rate, particularly if it is taken in large doses.

Vicodin Overdose Symptoms

Overdose can occur when you take a dose of Vicodin that is too large or combine Vicodin with another type of central nervous system depressant, such as alcohol, another opiate, or a barbiturate. The U.S. National Library of Medicine lists Vicodin overdose symptoms as:

  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Constricted/pinpoint pupils.
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure).
  • Fatigue.
  • Weak pulse.
  • Slowed/shallow/difficult breathing.
  • Respiratory arrest.
  • Cyanosis (blue tint to lips and fingernails).
  • Coma.
  • Seizures.

Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms

One of the most common problems with Vicodin is that opioid withdrawal symptoms can set in after reducing your dose even slightly or waiting a bit longer to take your next dose. Because of this, many users are afraid to begin the recovery process.

Vicodin withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the muscles and bones.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Restlessness and uncontrollable leg movements.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Feeling cold.

Vicodin Abuse Treatment

There are several options for you when you decide to begin treatment for your Vicodin problem. The first decision you will have to make is whether you should enter an inpatient or outpatient rehab program. If your addiction is severe, entering a rehab center on an inpatient basis might be the most effective route to take. The best candidates for outpatient therapy are those who have strong support networks at home, consisting of friends and family.

Whether you choose an inpatient or outpatient program, you may opt to go through the process of detox and withdrawal on a residential basis, wherein licensed medical personnel can help you get through the process with as little pain as possible. Learn about 3-day, 5-day, and 7-day detox programs.


Once you have decided on the right type of program for you, you will need to figure out the best length of stay. Typically, longer stays are associated with better outcomes. Most addiction treatment programs follow a standard course that includes:

Many people in recovery will benefit from aftercare programs that incorporate continued therapy in group or individual settings and participation in support groups. Recovery will also address any professional, legal, medical, or financial issues that may have arisen as a result of your Vicodin abuse.

Find Vicodin Addiction Treatment Programs

Opioid rehab programs are located throughout the U.S. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for facilities. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. You don’t have to make treatment decisions alone. Our treatment admissions specialists are standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help guide you through this process. Please call us free today at .

Vicodin Statistics

These facts and statistics paint a picture of the problem of Vicodin abuse in the United States:

  • Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opiate in the country, with more than 139 million prescriptions filled during 2010.
  • Of all of the prescription drugs containing hydrocodone, the most frequently prescribed are those that combine it with acetaminophen under the brand names Vicodin and Lortab.
  • The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that 24.4 million people aged 12 and older in the United States had used hydrocodone recreationally at some point.

Teen Vicodin Abuse

For many teens, it is easier to steal Vicodin from parents’ medicine cabinets than it is to purchase alcohol. According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey, roughly 10% of all 10th and 12th graders had used Vicodin for non-medical purposes during the previous year. Learn more about teenage drug abuse.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Vicodin addiction, recovery is possible with the right help. Professional addiction treatment can start anyone battling a substance use problem on the path to a happier and healthier life. If you suspect your teen is abusing Vicodin, American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help you take the next step. Please call us free at to learn more about how to help a Vicodin addict, rehab programs, and treatment options.

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Eric Patterson, MSCP, NCC, LPC, is a professional counselor who has been working for over a decade to help children, adolescents, and adults in western Pennsylvania reach their goals and improve their well-being.

Along the way, Eric worked as a collaborating investigator for the field trials of the DSM-5 and completed an agreement to provide mental health treatment to underserved communities with the National Health Service Corp.

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