Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms and Treatment
What is Vicodin?: Uses & Dangers
Historically, Vicodin was one of several branded formulations of hydrocodone available in combination with acetaminophen. The drug was discontinued in the U.S. market.
Vicodin typically relieves pain for up to six hours, and medical professionals often prescribe this pain reliever for patients after surgery. Like any opioid pain medication, Vicodin can be addictive, and some patients build a tolerance to it. This means that the individual takes larger doses of Vicodin or does so compulsively without being able to stop. Physical dependence means that individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication. Unlike other opioid pain relievers,
Vicodin can be especially dangerous for the liver. Large doses of acetaminophen were found to cause severe allergic reactions and liver damage in many people, and several people who took over 325 mg of acetaminophen consistently often ended up in the emergency room due to overdose. The Food and Drug Administration changed their guidelines on acetaminophen products in 2011, especially on the amount of acetaminophen that can be used in prescription painkillers like Percocet (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone). The limit was placed at 325 mg, but individuals taking these painkillers should also be wary of acetaminophen in over-the-counter cold and flu medications, to prevent overdose.
Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline
Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of other opioid pain medications. Typical withdrawal symptoms for Vicodin include:
- Psychological changes, like irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and confusion
- Appetite changes, like an increased craving for the drug and reduced sensation of hunger
- Physical symptoms, like tremors, enlarged pupils, nausea and vomiting, sweating, diarrhea, salivation, shivering or goosebumps,
rapid breathing, and muscle aches or cramps
- Sleep disturbances, like restlessness, insomnia, or exhaustion
- Symptoms of a cold, like a runny nose, fever, sweating, chills, and nasal congestion
Naloxone, often used under the brand name Narcan, has become prominent in the opioid addiction treatment realm. Many states have passed laws allowing emergency room doctors and emergency services professionals to administer naloxone to people suffering from opioid overdose. With prescription painkiller abuse and addiction being called an epidemic in the US, more lawmakers are trying to find ways to lower the number of lives lost due to overdose.
Naloxone stops the brain, temporarily, from soaking up the opioid medication by binding to those receptors faster than opioids can. In current incarnations, however, naloxone is a temporary solution that stops symptoms of overdose for long enough to get the individual to the hospital for treatment. In many cases, naloxone does not stop the overdose, because the medication leaves the body faster than opioids do. So, if a person suffers an overdose of Vicodin, naloxone can be administered to halt the overdose and get that person to the hospital.
This means that naloxone is not used in clinical settings to address withdrawal symptoms. However, government regulatory agencies are considering this possibility because naloxone has, so far, not shown to have any side effects, and is not addictive.
Vicodin Addiction & Withdrawal Treatment
As mentioned before, a medically monitored drug detox program may be right for you. Additionally, inpatient rehab may be needed in order to address the sources of the addiction and promote long-term success.
Vicodin Withdrawal Medications
If a person struggling with Vicodin addiction enters inpatient detox and rehabilitation, clinicians may use buprenorphine or methadone to ease withdrawal symptoms. As partial opioid agonists, these medicals essential make the body think it is still getting the opiates it has become accustomed to, preventing withdrawal from kicking in. Oftentimes, individuals received lowered doses of these medications over time until they are drug-free.
Alternative Treatment Options
Non-drug therapies exist that can help ease Vicodin withdrawal symptoms. Methods like meditation, massage, or acupuncture may help the detox process in various ways. By helping the person to be relaxed and comfortable through detox, via these complementary therapies, the process can feel more manageable. In addition, the 24-hour support that is available through medical detox can help the individual to resist the urge to relapse to Vicodin when withdrawal feels tough.