September 21, 2023

Vicodin is a prescription narcotic painkiller that’s commonly used for chronic pain management. Due to its active ingredients, hydrocodone and acetaminophen, Vicodin is highly addictive and can lead to physical dependence, tolerance, and ultimately addiction if not taken as directed.

What Is Vicodin?

Vicodin is defined as an opioid-based pain reliever that combines acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone works to relieve pain by binding to opiate receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Acetaminophen, on the other hand, works to increase hydrocodone’s effectiveness while also reducing pain and fever.

Vicodin is prescribed to help alleviate moderate to severe pain. However, it is often abused by people who take higher doses or use it longer than the recommended amount. This drug has addictive properties that can lead to tolerance with continued use, which may necessitate higher doses to achieve the desired effect.

How Addictive Is Vicodin?

Due to the nature of the drug, Vicodin is highly addictive. Opioids, like hydrocodone, are known to cause physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction. Physical dependence can cause withdrawal symptoms if an individual stops using the drug abruptly. Tolerance means that more of the drug is needed to achieve the same effect, and addiction leads to compulsive drug use despite the negative consequences.

Additionally, the number of people who abuse opioids like Vicodin has been on the rise in recent years. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2018, 3.6 million people aged 12 or older misused opioid pain relievers, including Vicodin, within the past year.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Addiction

It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction before it becomes a bigger problem. Common signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction include:

  • Inadequate pain control: People who develop Vicodin addiction may find that the drug is no longer effective in helping them control their pain.
  • Doctor shopping: Those who abuse Vicodin may frequently change doctors or lie to their doctor about their level of pain to get multiple prescriptions for the drug.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: If someone addicted to Vicodin tries to stop taking it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as muscle pain, sweating, restlessness, and irritability.
  • Social withdrawal: People with Vicodin addiction may begin to avoid social situations, become more isolated or distant from family and friends.
  • Behavioral changes: Vicodin addiction can cause behavioral changes such as lying, stealing, or otherwise deceptive behavior in order to obtain or use the drug.
  • Physical symptoms: Physical symptoms of Vicodin addiction can include nausea, vomiting, constipation, blurred vision, and dizziness.

Causes and Risk Factors for Vicodin Addiction

The causes of Vicodin addiction can vary from person to person. Risk factors for developing a Vicodin addiction include:

  • A history of drug abuse or addiction
  • Family history of addiction
  • Presence of chronic pain
  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD
  • Exposure to opiates at a younger age

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose for Vicodin Abuse

Withdrawal from Vicodin can cause physical and psychological symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Chills and goosebumps
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Runny nose and teary eyes
  • Sweating

Overdose can occur if someone takes more than the recommended dose of Vicodin. Symptoms of overdose can include:

  • Constricted (small) pupils
  • Seizures
  • Extreme drowsiness, slow breathing, or unconsciousness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Blue or purplish color of skin, especially around the lips and fingernails

Vicodin Addiction Problems

Vicodin addiction can lead to significant problems, including:

  • Overdose: As explained earlier, Vicodin overdose can be deadly.
  • Chronic Pain: Overusing and relying on Vicodin to manage pain can lead to chronic pain that requires more Vicodin.
  • Urine Retention: Extended use of Vicodin can lead to urinary retention, which in turn increases the risk of urinary tract infection.
  • Liver Damage: The acetaminophen in Vicodin can cause liver damage if taken in high doses or for an extended period of time.
  • Death: Vicodin addiction can cause respiratory depression, which can cause death in severe cases.

Learn About Vicodin and Substance Abuse

Vicodin abuse can be dangerous and is a form of substance abuse. Substance abuse can consist of using any kind of drug, either illicit or prescription, in a way that is not medically approved. This encompasses taking too much of a drug, using a drug more frequently than prescribed or intended, or in ways not recommended such as snorting or injecting. Substance abuse leads to addiction, health risks, and other negative outcomes.

Long-Term Effects of Vicodin Abuse

Long-term abuse of Vicodin can lead to:

  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Dependence or addiction
  • Kidney, liver, or heart disease
  • Social and relationship problems
  • Respiratory or cardiac arrest

Vicodin Withdrawal Medications

Withdrawal medications are available to help individuals who become addicted to Vicodin. Common withdrawal medications include:

  • Buprenorphine: This medication can reduce cravings for Vicodin and other opioids.
  • Methadone: This medication can help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • Naltrexone: This medication can block the effects of opioids in the brain, reducing the likelihood of relapse.

Withdrawal Symptoms Associated with Sudden Abstinence

Withdrawal symptoms associated with sudden abstinence from Vicodin can include:

  • Intense craving for the drug
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body aches and pains
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Inability to sleep
  • Diarrhea and stomach cramps

Vicodin Addiction and Co-occurring Disorders

People who struggle with Vicodin addiction may also have co-occurring disorders such as:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Learn about the Prevalence of Vicodin Addiction

Vicodin addiction has become increasingly prevalent in recent years due to the current opioid epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die every day in the United States from overdosing on opioids. This includes Vicodin and other prescription pain relievers as well as heroin and fentanyl.

Vicodin Abuse is Rampant

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Vicodin is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the United States. It’s essential to understand the risks associated with this drug to prevent addiction and abuse.

Am I Covered for Addiction Treatment?

Factors like insurance coverage may prevent individuals from seeking treatment for their Vicodin addiction. However, most insurance plans provide coverage for addiction treatment. If you are unsure about your insurance coverage, contact your provider to discuss your options.


1. Can I become addicted to Vicodin if I take it as prescribed?

Yes, it’s possible to become addicted to Vicodin even if you take it as prescribed. While following a doctor’s instructions reduces the risk of addiction, opioid painkillers such as Vicodin still have addictive properties.

2. What are the withdrawal symptoms of Vicodin?

The withdrawal symptoms associated with Vicodin include muscle aches, anxiety, agitation, increased heart rate, decreased appetite, and sleeplessness.

3. What is medication-assisted treatment for Vicodin addiction?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves medication and behavioral therapy to help treat opioid addiction. MAT can help individuals with Vicodin addiction manage their symptoms and reduce the likelihood of relapse.

4. Can Vicodin abuse lead to other substance abuse?

Yes, Vicodin abuse can lead to other substance abuse. People with Vicodin addiction are more likely to develop addiction to other drugs or alcohol due to neurological changes that occur with addiction.

5. Can Vicodin cause permanent damage to the body?

Long-term Vicodin abuse can cause permanent damage to the body, including liver, kidney, or heart disease, as well as respiratory or cardiac arrest.


Vicodin addiction can be a challenging problem to overcome, but with proper treatment, recovery is possible. Treatment for Vicodin addiction involves medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, and holistic therapies to address the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of addiction. Recovery is a journey, but it’s worth the effort to regain your life and health.

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