Vicodin detox is the process in which individuals eliminate all traces of this opioid from the system. This process can be extremely difficult and highlighted by multiple negative withdrawal side-effects.
Significant risks associated with opioid abuse disorder and detox are present in Vicodin. However, because of the ingredients contained in Vicodin, the risks with this drug specifically may be more severe.
What is Vicodin, and what ingredients in this drug make it so dangerous? In this article, we’ll answer both of these questions and more.
What Is Vicodin?
Vicodin is a brand-name prescription drug containing a combination of the opioid hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol). This drug is typically prescribed for breakthrough pain, providing quick, short-term relief for patients after surgery and other minor injuries.
Vicodin is normally effective in relieving pain for about six hours. This medication is also prescribed in patients with long-term issues like cancer and other ailments in combination with long-acting pain relievers like morphine.
Acetaminophen, one of the primary ingredients in Vicodin, could potentially be more dangerous than the opioid portion of the formula. Taken as prescribed, there is no significant risk involved. However, when Vicodin is abused and taken in large quantities, there is a marked risk for liver damage.
Acetaminophen and Liver Damage Risk
It’s possible to experience acetaminophen poisoning that leads to liver damage when large amounts of the medication are consumed. There is a significant risk of this poisoning when individuals abuse Vicodin because of the levels of the ingredients.
In most formulations of Vicodin, the content is 5 mg of hydrocodone with 325 mg of acetaminophen. There are other specific combinations, but the fact remains the same with each of them. Levels of acetaminophen are always much higher than those of hydrocodone.
Because of the lopsided ratios, users commonly ingest large amounts of Vicodin to achieve the desired effect from the hydrocodone. For example, someone consuming ten Vicodin may only ingest 50 mg of hydrocodone while simultaneously ingesting 5,000 mg of acetaminophen.
This isn’t an uncommon scenario among individuals who consume Vicodin. The problem with this is the recommended safe daily maximum dose of acetaminophen is 4,000 mg, with overdose reaching somewhere around 4,500.
Acetaminophen overdose is a serious health event. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of this poisoning include the following:
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Heavy sweating
- Dark urine and stools
- Pale skin color
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms following ingestion of acetaminophen, it’s crucial to get emergency medical assistance immediately. Because of the risks associated with this form of poisoning, Vicodin detox is necessary to lower these risks.
Is Vicodin Detox Necessary
Recovering from Vicodin is possible with the right forms of treatment and assistance. One of the most crucial stages of recovery is the Vicodin detox.
All traces of this substance must be eliminated from the body, which takes place during a period known as detox. Detox is taken on in several different environments.
Individuals may choose at-home detox without the presence of medical personnel and mental health professionals or in an inpatient rehab setting. While medically assisted detox from Vicodin isn’t mandatory, it’s certainly recommended.
The chances of successfully completing recovery from Vicodin abuse disorder are much higher when individuals participate in a medical detox program. However, the first step in beginning this journey is first identifying the signs of Vicodin abuse disorder.
Signs of Vicodin Use Disorder
However, individuals that abuse Vicodin without a prescription don’t have any documented proof of access to this medication. The signs of Vicodin use disorder are very similar to the signs of any other opiate or opioid disorder. Listed below are the most common characteristics of Vicodin abuse disorder:
- Noticeable signs of intoxication such as nodding off, fatigue, slurred speech, balance issues, and changes in mood may indicate the presence is abuse disorder.
- Individuals that are running short on their prescriptions before refill dates
- Users consuming their medication in private or hiding their medication bottles
- Doctor shopping behavior
Doctor shopping is one of the most common signs of Vicodin use disorder. This is a behavior in which individuals with prescriptions seek multiple sources for prescriptions.
In certain cases, it’s not uncommon for users to drive out-of-state in an effort to secure multiple sources for medication. Not only is this a sign of a problem, but it’s also illegal.
Most users begin with one legal prescription for Vicodin. The most common demographic at risk for Vicodin abuse are males in the labor industry.
Occupations such as construction, coal mining, and the lumber industry are heavily plagued by the abuse of Vicodin and other pain medications. These individuals develop a tolerance to their medication and take larger amounts to achieve the desired effect as time goes on.
Eventually, the desire for pain relief becomes blurred with the chase for euphoria, and users enter full-blown addiction. Many times, users aren’t even aware of the presence of a habit until they experience withdrawal. The first time a patient runs short on their medication, the reality of addiction sets in as they battle the uncomfortable effects of detox.
Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms
Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are similar to other opiates and opioids, with a distinct timeline outlining the detox process. Listed below are the most common Vicodin withdrawal symptoms:
- Cold chills
- Mood swings
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Runny nose
- Frequent yawning
Understanding the timeline of Vicodin withdrawal will allow individuals coping with detox to become better prepared to handle the side effects.
Withdrawal Timeline for Vicodin
The half-life of Vicodin is about four hours. This means that the medication completely exits the body within eight hours, which is when withdrawal symptoms begin.
However, the concentration and drug use levels play a factor in the withdrawal timeline. The more individuals use, the longer it takes the withdrawal effects to begin. In most cases, withdrawal begins somewhere between 12 and 24-hours.
The overall timeline for the entire process is between one to 10 days. Normally, the period between days two and four present the most severe symptoms. When users approach day five, side-effects will begin to subside and diminish completely somewhere between days seven and 10.
However, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) may persist for months and years after successfully completing detox. Post-acute withdrawal is highlighted by sudden cravings for the drug or a brief return of withdrawal symptoms.
Normally, these symptoms may be something as simple as feeling a chill in the spine or a quick sweating episode. However, the initial stages of withdrawal are much more intense, and choosing a medical detox is the best course of action.
Why Choose Medical Detox for Opioids?
Choosing medical detox for opioids presents multiple benefits for individuals suffering from Vicodin abuse disorder. The chances of successfully navigating detox and moving onto a treatment program are much higher when an individual has medical assistance.
Choosing a medical detox program includes the following benefits:
- Around the clock monitoring from medical professionals
- Guided support from mental health professionals
- Access to a diet that promotes a safe and healthy detox
- The possibility of prescription medication to ease withdrawal symptom
One of the most significant benefits of medically assisted detox combined with inpatient or outpatient rehab is access to medication-assisted treatment. This form of treatment entails replacing Vicodin with another opioid to allow a weening period. There are also several long-term options when it comes to medication-assisted treatment.
Medication-assisted treatment provides individuals with options for maintaining a normal life while promoting recovery. There are several different medications available for patients who choose this treatment form.
- Methadone is a common form of medication-assisted treatment. Individuals will receive daily doses of methadone as a replacement for Vicodin. This allows individuals to cease Vicodin use and avoid withdrawal. The primary goal is to allow the individual to return to normal life and schedule, with the eventual goal of weening off of methadone.
- Suboxone is another popular form of medication-assisted treatment with a few twists. The primary ingredients in Suboxone are buprenorphine and naloxone. If patients attempt to ingest Suboxone without waiting the proper amount of time (24-48 hours), they will experience precipitated withdrawal. This is the sudden onset of the most intense symptoms of withdrawal. It can be one of the most severe forms of withdrawal a user can experience. However, taking Suboxone as directed will avoid the side-effects of withdrawal altogether and ease the cravings associated with PAWS.
There are several important methods for achieving long-term recovery from Vicodin abuse. One of the most important elements is finding coping mechanisms for pain and alternatives to opioid pain management. This may not be as important in users who originally abused Vicodin recreationally, but for individuals with prescriptions, it can be crucial.
Several alternatives exist for pain management after individuals stop using Vicodin. Listed below are some of the most effective methods.
- Regular exercise and other physical activities
- Physical therapy
- Holistic practices like yoga and other treatments
- Continued use of over the counter medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen
- Non-narcotic pain relievers such as Meloxicam
- Massage and heat therapy
Dealing with this dynamic is one step in recovering from Vicodin abuse. The second is overcoming the mental elements that could prevent long-term recovery.
Long-Term Recovery from Vicodin
Inpatient or outpatient rehab are the most efficient forms of treatment against Vicodin misuse. Both of these forms of treatment provide clients with access to important mental health and educational services.
Dual diagnosis identifies and treats the underlying causes of Vicodin abuse disorder. This could be a combination of several mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Working together with a psychologist is the most effective form of dual diagnosis treatment. Talk therapy and other behavioral remedies allow clients to understand the root causes that lead to abuse.
The overall goal of dual diagnosis treatment is to finally address the true source of the issue and eliminate the constant cycle of sobriety and relapse. Without properly addressing the specific reasons for substance abuse disorder, individuals run the risk of becoming trapped in this cycle. This is what’s known as treating the side-effect and not the problem.
Stress and Pain Management
Individuals in treatment for Vicodin misuse will also learn about stress and pain management. Alternative ways of managing both of these issues are learned with the help of mental health specialists and medical professionals.
Education is available on a variety of ways to deal with these issues in a much healthier way. Continued therapy after treatment through visits with a primary care physician and counselors are both encouraged for long-term recovery.
Finally, aftercare services are required for continued treatment and recovery. This is one of the final pieces of the puzzle but should never be underestimated or ignored, no matter how much sober time a user has.
Besides continuing appointments with medical specialists, group therapy is also effective. Narcotics Anonymous and other programs provide significant benefits for long-term recovery. There are often several locations for these meetings in every city and town across the United States.
Because of the pandemic, many of these groups have taken to the internet. Support groups in the form of internet forums and chatrooms have grown in popularity over the last year.
Additional sober supports are important to have for lasting results. These normally include family members and friends that are closer to the user. In most instances, these people can be great sources of strength during the battle for recovery.
Using Sober Supports for Lasting Results
Ensuring that a client has strong sober support is vital for the time after treatment. Immediate family members and close friends should be actively engaged in the recovery of a client.
This engagement includes holding the individual accountable for remaining sober, ensuring they attend meetings and appointments, and offering encouraging words. Monitoring the environment and individuals that surround a former user are also important to avoid relapse.
At Icarus Behavioral Health, we specialize in treating Vicodin abuse disorder following outside medical detox and then educating clients and their families about creating lasting sober support systems. We’ve helped numerous families return to a normal life, and our admissions staff is always ready to speak to our next success story. Contact us today to begin your journey to recovery!