Vicodin Side Effects

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a prescription painkiller to relieve moderate to severe pain. It typically relieves pain for up to six hours, and medical professionals often prescribe this pain reliever for patients after surgery. It is a prescription tablet of hydrocodone and acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol). The hydrocodone in Vicodin is a synthetic opioid [1], which activates the same neurotransmitters as opiate drugs such as heroin.

Like any opioid pain medication, Vicodin can be addictive, and some individuals build a tolerance to it. This means that the person takes larger doses of this drug or does so compulsively without stopping. Physical dependence means that the person will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication. This can be dangerous because Vicodin can be highly addictive, and overdoses and death are common.

Unlike other opioid pain relievers, this medication can be dangerous for the liver. Although this drug has a valid and legitimate medical purpose, the prescription drug is a risk to those who may take it simply for the euphoric high the narcotic can provide. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) [2], researchers are investigating the long-term effects of opioid medication addiction on the brain, including whether the damage can be reversed.

Vicodin Side Effects
Vicodin side effects can lead to a slow breakdown of daily life.

Street Names of Vicodin

There are many other street names for the drug when it is distributed illegally. Drug dealers and abusers use slang terms for Vicodin to stay under the radar. Street names for Vicodin include:

  • Fluff
  • 357s
  • Hydros
  • Idiot Pills
  • Norco
  • Lorris
  • Scratch
  • Tabs
  • Vicos
  • Vics
  • Vikes
  • Watsons

Vicodin Abuse and Addiction

Vicodin can also be crushed into a powder. People who choose to use the drug illicitly usually crush it themselves. Instead of taking them orally, the powder is snorted into the body by the user. This allows the Vicodin to penetrate the system in a short amount of time compared to being swallowed. Still, it also puts users at a higher risk of experiencing harm and powerful Vicodin side effects.

According to the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) [3], hydrocodone (one of the active components of Vicodin) can stop or slow your breathing. Do not use this medicine for longer than prescribed or in larger amounts. Narcotic opioid pain medicine may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share Vicodin with another person, especially someone with a history of drug misuse or addiction.

Prescription drug overdoses are far more common than those for illegal drugs and are responsible for more deaths. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [4], from 1999–2019, nearly 500,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids like Vicodin.

Vicodin side effects that may lead to overdose include pinpoint pupils, reduced or loss of consciousness, an irregular pulse, and reduced or absent breathing. With these symptoms, emergency medical care is essential if you receive the opiate antidote, naloxone, in time.

Abuse and Addiction to Vicodin Side Effects

When an individual first uses Vicodin, the pain relief or pleasurable experience they experience may make them want to take more of the drug. However, abusing the drug again to create these effects is potentially moving closer to addiction.

Short-term Vicodin side effects include:

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Impaired judgment
  • Nausea
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Sedation
  • Slowed breathing

Even in the short term, abuse of Vicodin can be dangerous. In abuse situations, taking opioid painkillers such as Vicodin could lead to heart failure, coma, or death.

Long-term Abuse and Addiction to Vicodin Side Effects

The slowed breathing that results from Vicodin abuse and overdose could prevent the brain from receiving enough oxygen it needs. This is a condition called hypoxia, one of the long-term side effects of Vicodin that can lead to coma, permanent brain damage, and death.

Someone who uses opioids chronically may have reproductive and sexual problems as well, such as impotence, erectile dysfunction, infertility, low libido, or missed periods.

Pregnant women who misuse opioid drugs such as Vicodin could also be exposing their unborn child to dangers. For example, mothers dependent on Vicodin may give birth to babies who have breathing problems or neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse

If a person is abusing this prescription drug, they may start to use a personal prescription in a way other than prescribed. This could include taking more frequent or larger doses. Some individuals may also alter the drug’s form, such as by dissolving it into a liquid for injection or crushing it so they can snort it.

Another sign of misuse and abuse is when an individual asks family, friends, or coworkers for their medication or steals Vicodin from loved ones. Buying Vicodin off the street can also be a major sign of abuse and addiction.

As abuse leads to addiction, an individual will usually exhibit the following signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction:

Tolerance

The dose of Vicodin an individual once used does not create the effects or pleasurable feelings they desire. This usually pushes an individual to take higher or more frequent doses.

Cravings

Thoughts of and desire for Vicodin begin to overwhelm almost every aspect of an individual’s life, to the extent they spend most of their time finding and using the drug.

Dependence

An individual’s body is reliant on the drug and cannot function in a normal way without it.

Withdrawal

Someone who is dependent on Vicodin becomes sick if they suddenly quit or significantly reduce the amount of Vicodin they take.

Vicodin Side Effects
Fatal Vicodin side effects can occur if you use opioid medicine with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Vicodin Withdrawal

The best way to free yourself from your dependency on Vicodin is to take part in an opiate withdral rehab program. Trying to wean yourself off painkillers is not easy to do. However, with the help and support of addiction professionals, you greatly increase the chances of giving up prescription painkillers for good.

When an individual quits using Vicodin “cold turkey,” or without slowly reducing their dose over a period of time, they may develop withdrawal and become ill. Some people may also feel this way if they limit their typical dose by a considerable amount.

One of the most common withdrawals to Vicodin side effects may cause a person’s body to hurt, creating such symptoms as joint and muscle pain and backache Without the Vicodin to depress it, a person’s central nervous system (CNS) may react in the opposite way, leading to increased blood pressure, breathing, and heart rates.

Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from this drug can be a very individual process. While the worst of the withdrawal symptoms most likely end within 1-2 weeks, it is hard to estimate the timeline accurately for each individual person. Some common withdrawal symptoms you can expect to experience following chronic Vicodin abuses are:

  • Muscle soreness
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, and low in mood
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweating and goosebumps
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea

Vicodin Side Effects and Overdose 

Vicodin is one of the most frequently involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths. When too much of this drug is consumed, the amounts of the drug can be toxic. This can happen when someone takes a single large dose in a short period of time. Overdose can happen from both hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

Signs and Symptoms of a Vicodin Overdose

Overdose to Vicodin side effects exhibits signs of trauma, such as damp skin, blue lips, or loss of consciousness. Several signs also exist for acetaminophen overdoses, including:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma
  • Angry or erratic behavior
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Liver failure
  • Jaundice (yellowing skin or eyes)
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Blue fingers and lips
  • Vomiting

Alcohol and Vicodin Side Effects

Mixing alcohol and Vicodin can cause extreme dizziness or drowsiness. Drinking alcohol while using Vicodin can be very dangerous to a person’s liver health because both alcohol and acetaminophen (one of the active components of Vicodin) are both metabolized through the liver. Both hydrocodone and acetaminophen can cause liver damage and liver failure when abused alone. However, when used together, the consequences on the liver could turn deadly.

Addiction to Vicodin Side Effects and Co-occurring Disorders

Usually, substance or drug abuse is accompanied by another mental health disorder. Some of the most common co-occurring disorders may include:

Medically Assisted Detox From Vicodin Side Effects

To avoid the difficulty of withdrawal, it’s best to undergo medically assisted detox in an addiction treatment center. This crucial first phase of treatment can take varying amounts of time and include painful symptoms that affect you mentally and physically. During inpatient detox, professional medical staff will carefully check and monitor each client 24 hours a day to secure their stability. Then, if medically appropriate, clinicians will work to relieve painful withdrawal symptoms as they come and may administer approved taper medications. These substances take the place of Vicodin to slowly wean the body off opioid drugs in a safe manner.

Find the Right Treatment to Vicodin Side Effects at We Level Up NJ

If you or your loved one is struggling with Vicodin side effects and withdrawal symptoms, indeed, help is just a phone call away. Professional painkiller opioid addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. To learn more, contact us today at We Level Up NJ Treatment Facility. We provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We provide an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

Vicodin Side Effects
Call We Level Up for advice about the Vicodin side effects and addiction.

Sources

[1] NIH – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a614045.html

[2] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids

[3] FDA – https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/daf/index.cfm?event=overview.process&ApplNo=089736

[4] We Level UpOpiate Detox & Opioid Detox, Treatment & Expectations