Vicodin is a brand name for a painkiller with two drugs – hydrocodone, which is an opioid, and acetaminophen, commonly recognized as Tylenol. Vicodin is prescribed to manage pain. Vicodin has the same effect as heroin on the receptors in the brain and can be highly addictive, reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Whether you are taking Vicodin as a legal prescription for pain management or obtaining the drug illegally, discontinuing the medication or lowering the dosage can cause drug withdrawal symptoms.
What Are Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as six hours following a dose of Vicodin. The severity depends on how long you have been taking Vicodin and the amount of the dosage per day. Symptoms will intensify for a few days before beginning to subside and can last for several weeks. Some of the symptoms that can occur include:
- Fatigue. Fatigue and tiredness are prevalent in Vicodin withdrawal. It doesn’t seem to matter how much you rest or sleep, you will still experience a low energy level.
- Headache. Vicodin is used for pain management, so when its use is stopped, a common reaction in the brain is severe headache.
- Emotional distress. As your body is searching for a new normal without the control of Vicodin, you may experience symptoms such as frustration, depression, rapid heartbeat and muscle jerking.
- Psychological reactions. Panic, anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, hyperactivity and a feeling of helplessness are possible with Vicodin withdrawal.
- Physical signs. Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, excessive sweating, dilated pupils, runny nose, body chills and loss of appetite are common signs of Vicodin withdrawal.
Dangers of Withdrawal
While withdrawal symptoms from Vicodin are generally not life-threatening, they can be extremely uncomfortable. Some of the dangers that can arise during withdrawal occur are complications of symptoms, such as aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs if you vomit, choking, and dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration can lead to a chemical imbalance in your body, which can cause cardiac and other system problems.
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Treating Withdrawal Symptoms
Many who attempt to get off Vicodin on their own return to taking the drug to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. The best way to successfully withdraw from Vicodin is under the care and supervision of a team of medical professionals (See: Vicodin Detox). Chances are that you started the drug to treat some type of ongoing pain. In addition to managing the withdrawal symptoms, you will need an alternate type of pain control introduced, or you will likely go right back to Vicodin to obtain relief. Going back on the drug following detox presents a serious danger. Your tolerance for the drug is reduced, which makes it easy to overdose, even if you take the same amount as before.
Successfully treating withdrawal symptoms includes treating the whole person. You need mental, physical and social support to make the transition through withdrawal and into living a drug-free life. Treatment of Vicodin addiction withdrawal doesn’t end with the completion of detox. We offer a full range of treatment options with qualified professionals to guide you every step of the way.