Vicodin Detox: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the first steps to recovery will always involve a detox.

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Vicodin is considered one of the most dangerous prescription drugs since one of its active ingredients is hydrocodone. Due to its endorphin and dopamine-inducing effects, it has become one of the many abused prescription drugs on the market.

The good news is that multiple addiction treatment centers specialize in Vicodin detox. The process aims to slowly abstain users from the drug and typically lasts between five and seven days.

Despite the detox being about a week-long, it can feel like months for patients experiencing the challenging withdrawal symptoms.

Stick around to learn more about Vicodin detox and its physical and psychological effects.

What Is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a prescription pain reliever. The brand name holds a combination of drugs, including: 

  • Hydrocodone: A semi-synthetic opioid used to alleviate pain and suppress coughing. Some of the symptoms of taking the drug include slurred speech, sedation, shallow breathing, and euphoria.
  • Acetaminophen: Also known as paracetamol, it’s an antipyretic and analgesic medication used to relieve fever and moderate pain.

Besides that, Vicodin works to relieve pain for up to six hours. It can be highly addictive if taken for a long time without a medical professional’s supervision. Nevertheless, it can still be addictive even after following a doctor’s advice.

Since it’s a prescription medicine, its users typically find other routes to get Vicodin. These illegal methods are often unsafe because they don’t sell pure Vicodin. It’s typically mixed with other drugs, making it more dangerous.

How Does Vicodin Work?

As you take Vicodin, in liquid or tablet form, the agent connects to opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS). With that happening, your brain’s pain signals are dialed down, decreasing discomfort and pain.

That’s not all Vicodin does. The prescription drug also triggers a euphoric reaction by releasing dopamine. Consequently, the likelihood of addiction, abuse, and dependence on the drug increases.

Vicodin Detox

Vicodin Detox: Overview

A Vicodin detox allows patients to gradually reduce their usage. The process usually produces several withdrawal symptoms that are exceptionally challenging for users to face alone. For this reason, monitored Vicodin detoxes are critical.

The detox is often done using certain FDA-approved medications to relieve the withdrawal symptoms that follow.

Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms

After taking Vicodin for an extended period, your body automatically becomes reliant on the drug. Your systems are becoming acclimated to the opioid receptor stimulation, building your tolerance to the medication.

This high tolerance becomes a glaring sign of physical and psychological dependence on Vicodin. That results in needing the drug for your body to maintain its regular function. Sudden withdrawal will naturally shock your body and result in multiple symptoms.

Your body will likely feel the withdrawal symptoms creeping in after one or two days of detox.

Physical

Withdrawing from Vicodin during the initial stages may make patients feel like they have the flu. Some of the most common physical symptoms attributed to Vicodin withdrawal include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramping
  • Excessive yawning
  • Shivering
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Chills
  • Restlessness
  • Night sweats
  • Diarrhea
  • Pupil dilation
  • Rapid breathing

Psychological

Vicodin’s psychological withdrawal symptoms are often impactful and require extensive support to get through. They can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Vicodin cravings
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Reduced appetite

What Determines the Period of Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms

A person battling years of Vicodin addiction will likely have a different experience from someone experiencing it recently. For this reason, the severity and length of addiction can heavily affect the detox process

Another factor can include the detox method implemented. For instance, if you decide to go cold turkey and instantly cut off usage, it’ll reap more severe symptoms than if you gradually reduce the dosage.

External factors like medical assistance or personal support may also affect your withdrawal symptoms duration. A better support system will offer longer-lasting results.

Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline

Vicodin withdrawal timelines are not all built the same. In most cases, they’re tailored according to the patient’s addiction severity, age, liver condition, and metabolism. The timeline may last between five and seven days.

Day One

During the 8 to 24 hours after your last dosage, you’ll start to experience mild withdrawal symptoms. These can include flu symptoms like a runny nose, fever, and chills.

You may also experience muscle pain, discomfort, appetite loss, and drug cravings. At night, restlessness and insomnia may take over.

Day Two

As the second day progresses, you’ll likely feel similar symptoms, but they’ll feel more intense. The pain and cravings will intensify. Plus, you’ll likely feel nauseous and have stomach cramps and diarrhea.

In terms of the psychological effects, you could experience depressive episodes, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.

Day Three

The third day typically exhibits the harshest Vicodin withdrawal symptoms. The body aches will increase in severity. Vomiting and nausea symptoms will increase, as well as the psychological side effects.

Day Four to Seven

By the end of the challenging week, your symptoms will start to subside. Despite the physical dependence symptoms gradually dissipating, patients still have to face the psychological effects of the Vicodin addiction.

For this reason, you need a medical professional or loved one’s support as you persist through your addiction treatment journey. Otherwise, if you’re left alone, you’re more vulnerable to future relapses.

Vicodin Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Even after you’ve completed a seven-day Vicodin detox, you could fall into what’s known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS). This condition can follow patients for years after abstaining from the prescription drug.

With PAWS, you could experience the following:

  • Cravings
  • Hostility
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Mood Swings
  • Indifference
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression

As you can tell, most of these symptoms are psychological. Now, the causes of PAWS remain undocumented. The scientific explanation delves into the changes in your brain chemistry as your body gains physical dependence on Vicodin.

Once you’ve stopped taking the agent, your brain will lack the necessary neurotransmitters to release endorphins. Consequently, it must re-learn the process and re-adjust independent of drug use.

That process can be prolonged, which leads to PAWS. Fortunately, there are several treatment methods. Some centers use medications plus mental and physical activities. Others may follow a structured counseling schedule focusing on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Vicodin Detox: What to Expect

Vicodin detoxes are, more often than not, completed at residential rehab or inpatient facilities. It ensures that patients are receiving 24-hour monitoring services and are fully abstaining from drug or alcohol usage.

Nonetheless, some Vicodin detox processes can take place in an outpatient setting, especially if the addiction is less severe.

Now, the treatment involves administering drugs to treat the withdrawal symptoms. Those may include:

  • Buprenorphine: This replacement drug treats opioid addiction and suppresses acute pain from withdrawal symptoms.
  • Suboxone: It’s a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone and is used to treat the cravings you feel during withdrawal.
  • Methadone: A synthetic opioid commonly used to treat heroin and opioid dependence. It primarily targets chronic pain.

If you performed a dual diagnosis and have co-occurring mental disorders, such as depression, you’ll likely be given antidepressants as well. Aside from that, the Vicodin detox process involves multiple aspects. These are: 

Medical Assessment

After enrolling in a detox service center, the first step to expect is a full addiction assessment. The comprehensive examination will help medical professionals decide which treatment route will suit your needs best.

The assessment can involve research into your family history of substance abuse, as well as a physical and psychological evaluation.

Medical Care

Once registered and within professional care, patients are consistently monitored. Their vitals are regularly examined to ensure no abnormalities.

In this phase, medication is typically given to alleviate the Vicodin withdrawal symptoms.

Tailored Therapy

Besides physical care, patients also need a structured and tailored therapy program to go alongside the detox.

Addiction centers will assign you a therapist to ease you through the medication-assisted detox. The therapy service usually continues afterward as well to ensure an effective treatment.

Continuing Care

Aftercare varies among Vicodin detox patients. Some may need to remain in inpatient or residential care to receive 24-hour supervision.

Others might feel more comfortable with an outpatient setting since they prefer to stay at their homes with loved ones. Either way, therapy or counseling service is necessary during aftercare.

Is Vicodin Withdrawal Safe?

Vicodin detox is a safe process, particularly when monitored by an addiction specialist. Applying for inpatient care is the best option during a detox.

Otherwise, you might experience persistent withdrawal symptoms like cravings. It can result in relapses where patients take in more drugs than their bodies can tolerate, leading to life-threatening overdoses. 

Vicodin Detox for Pregnant Women

In cases of pregnancy, medically assisted detox programs are an absolute necessity. Sudden abstinence from Vicodin can harm the fetus.

Stabilization efforts from doctors through prescribed medication are a must to keep the fetus and mother safe. The detox will help pregnant women manage the immense pain and avoid relapse.

What Does Vicodin Addiction Look Like

Vicodin addiction takes multiple forms. One of the most tell-tale signs of opioid addiction is liver damage from excessive acetaminophen use. You can look for other signs like:

  • Euphoria
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramping
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks

Besides these symptoms, you can examine behavioral effects. You’ll notice patients taking more Vicodin than the prescribed amount. Cravings are also a prominent sign of abuse.

A person experiencing Vicodin addiction could isolate themselves from their friends and family. They start to care less for their hygiene, health, and career. By that time, physical and psychological tolerance had developed.

What the Statistics Say

Prescription pain relief medication addiction is gaining prevalence in the U.S. A shocking 9.3 million citizens each year are becoming addicted to painkillers. As one of those addictive opioids, Vicodin has shown its effect on the population in the following statistics:

  • Over 131 million Americans in 2011 were unnecessarily prescribed Vicodin.
  • In 2013, 5.3% of school seniors abused Vicodin.
  • In 2017, 2.3% of the U.S. population misused Vicodin.

Alternative Vicodin Detox Options

Two major alternative Vicodin detox methods have gained prevalence. Those are going cold turkey and practicing rapid detox. While they may work for some patients, there are still concerns surrounding their application among medical experts.

Rapid Vicodin Detox

Rapid detox involves physically pushing chemicals intravenously out of your body. During the process, you’re given sedatives and medication to rapidly remove the drugs from your system. While this is categorized as a quick fix, it still holds a lot of risks.

A study examined two groups who received rapid detox and traditional addiction treatment using buprenorphine and non-opioid medication. The results showed no significant difference in relapse risk.

Instead, the symptoms of rapid detox were more intense. 20% of the individuals in rapid detox remained in treatment, while a higher 24% of those who went the traditional route stayed.

Rapid detox carries several physical risks, including cardiac and respiratory issues.

Dangers aside, rapid detoxes are also highly expensive, costing up to $20,000. Plus, the procedure is not usually covered by insurance.

Cold Turkey

In a desperate attempt to quit, a lot of substance abusers go cold turkey. Severe withdrawal symptoms from this method make it too difficult to remain on a Vicodin-free course.

Additionally, there’s a greater risk of relapse and falling into much more dangerous habits. With limited support, no preparation, unrealistic expectations, physical dependence, and unaddressed psychological factors, the cold turkey method will doom you from the start.

To Conclude

One of the first steps to recovery will always involve a detox. While it may be the shortest phase of your abstinence journey, it’s still one of the most challenging. Withdrawal symptoms often make this phase difficult to endure, especially alone.

Fortunately, with the wealth of resources online, you can locate multiple detox facilities near your area and get the help you or your loved one needs.

Published on: 2023-11-24
Updated on: 2023-11-24