Vicodin is a prescription pain medication that is used for short-term management of moderate to severe pain. A person who uses it for longer than recommended or at higher doses than prescribed may develop a dependence on Vicodin where they require Vicodin to function normally.
A person who has used Vicodin long-term or who has become dependent on it may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it. When withdrawal symptoms occur, the process of detoxification, or detox, can help the person to once again function normally without the drug in their system. This process usually involves tapering the drug by using smaller and smaller amounts until it is no longer needed.
What Causes Vicodin Withdrawal?
Vicodin works by stimulating opioid receptors in the brain that suppress the sensation of pain. When a person misuses Vicodin, the brain gets used to Vicodin stimulating those receptors. It may become reliant on Vicodin to function normally. When a person stops using Vicodin, the brain will need to re-adjust to its absence and Vicodin withdrawal symptoms can occur.
Vicodin withdrawal can occur in a person who has been using Vicodin for as few as five days. The withdrawal symptoms from stopping Vicodin use can be worse the longer a person has used it and the more dependent on it they are.
How Long Does Vicodin Stay in Your System?
Once taken, the hydrocodone in Vicodin will reach peak levels in the blood about 1.3 hours later. It will then start to decrease as it is broken down in the liver and eliminated by the kidneys. The rate it decreases is determined by the half-life of the drug. The half-life of Vicodin is about 3.8 hours, meaning it will reach half its max concentration in the blood 3.8 hours after taking it.
Vicodin can be taken every four to six hours, but how long Vicodin stays in your system will depend on how much you take and how often you take it. When testing for Vicodin during a drug test, hydrocodone can be detected in urine, saliva or hair. Again, how long Vicodin stays in your urine will depend on how much you take, but in general it can be detected for up to four days. It is detectable in saliva for 12 to 36 hours and hair for up to 90 days following use.
Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms
As Vicodin leaves a person’s system, they will experience withdrawal symptoms that can be painful and difficult to deal with. Some Vicodin withdrawal symptoms include physical and psychological symptoms. Specific symptoms vary from person to person.
Physical Vicodin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea or abdominal cramping
- Nausea or vomiting
- Increased blood pressure, breathing or heart rate
- Muscle aches or pain
- Joint pain
- Restlessness or development of restless leg syndrome
- General weakness
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
- Dilated pupils
Psychological symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal include:
- Changes in mood
Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline
When a person has been using Vicodin for five days or more, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. The Vicodin withdrawal timeline varies depending on the person. For example, while one person may complete Vicodin withdrawal by day three, it may take another person until day four for the symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal to subside. Some questions often asked about Vicodin withdrawal are:
When Does Vicodin Withdrawal Start? The Vicodin withdrawal time table varies by the person, but in general, a person may start feeling the effects of withdrawal within 24 hours of the last dose taken.
How Long Does Vicodin Withdrawal Last? The duration of Vicodin withdrawal will also vary from person-to-person depending on a number of factors like how much Vicodin the person used, how often they used it and the total time they have been using Vicodin. Longer duration of use and in higher amount will increase the total withdrawal time. A person may experience the side effects of Vicodin withdrawal for up to one week following the last use, but some milder side effects may last even longer.
Can You Die From Vicodin Withdrawal?
Vicodin withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and at times unbearable, but they are not life-threatening. Deaths associated with Vicodin use usually occur as a result of an overdose of the drug rather than from the drug leaving a person’s system.
Factors Impacting Vicodin Withdrawal
There are a number of factors that will determine how long a person will experience withdrawal symptoms after stopping Vicodin use. These factors include the frequency and duration of use, what dose of Vicodin the person was taking and if they combined the use of Vicodin with other substances. The duration of withdrawal can also depend on the features of the person, such as age, weight and body composition, gender, and overall health. All of these factors play a role in how fast a drug is metabolized and excreted from a person’s system.
When a person wants to stop taking Vicodin, they can use a schedule to slowly taper off Vicodin and minimize the symptoms of withdrawal. This process of tapering is sometimes called detoxification or detox.
There are several ways to overcome Vicodin withdrawal, including going through the process of detox. Vicodin detox involves tapering off Vicodin slowly, so that a person’s body can adjust to smaller amounts of the drug and eventually function without the drug. How long it takes to detox from Vicodin addiction will vary based on an individual’s specific situation and the detox process they choose.
- Detoxing at Home
Detoxing from Vicodin at home can be a difficult process due to the lack of help, both medically or emotionally, and often leads to a person turning back to Vicodin for relief from the withdrawal symptoms. Detoxing from Vicodin at home successfully may involve an outpatient program where a person can regularly meet with a medical professional who will help them through the process.
There are certain home remedies that a person may try to go through Vicodin detox at home. These can involve eating certain foods or exercising regularly. Though some may find that these remedies work well for them, there is little scientific evidence to show that they are effective for treating withdrawal.
- Stopping Vicodin Use Cold Turkey
Stopping Vicodin use cold turkey is when a person suddenly stops using Vicodin without any additional assistance. Quitting cold turkey can be dangerous, as Vicodin withdrawal can be difficult to deal with. Stopping cold turkey increases the chances that someone will relapse into Vicodin use. It is better to talk with a medical professional and develop a plan to stop Vicodin use and deal with withdrawal symptoms.
- Detoxing at Treatment Center
When detoxing at a treatment center, medical staff can help you plan out a Vicodin withdrawal taper schedule and provide relief from Vicodin withdrawal symptoms. They can help you explore Vicodin use disorder treatment options for when the detox process is complete, to encourage you to maintain your abstinence from using Vicodin.
Medically Assisted Detox: Medically assisted detox involves slowly weaning off Vicodin by tapering its use while using other medications to ease the withdrawal symptoms. This is usually done in an inpatient setting, under the supervision of a medical professional, but can also be done at home. Some common medications used during Vicodin detox include methadone, buprenorphine and clonidine.
Holistic Detox: Holistic detox uses natural remedies instead of medications to ease Vicodin withdrawal symptoms. Traditional Chinese and Indian medicine can be used to treat withdrawal symptoms. Some treatment centers may offer this as an option, including spiritual counseling and yoga.
Inpatient Detox: Inpatient detox is done under the supervision of a medical professional who may provide medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. The inpatient setting allows for medical staff to provide around-the-clock care while a person goes through the detox process. They can provide the support a person needs to get through detox as comfortably as possible.
Outpatient Detox: Outpatient detox involves working closely with a medical professional but going through the detox process at home. This process requires careful planning and extreme self-control by the person going through the detox. This option works best if the person has a strong support system at home.
How Long Does Vicodin Detox Take?
During detox, a person will taper their dose of Vicodin to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The schedule of tapering will vary between individuals based on how much Vicodin they are using and how often they use it. The suggested schedule used by medical professionals is to gradually decrease the dose of Vicodin by 25% to 50% every two to four days. If a person experienced withdrawal symptoms during this time, they can increase the dose back to the previous level and taper more slowly. This process can be done by lengthening the time between dose decreases or by not decreasing the amount of Vicodin taken as much.
Finding a Detox and Treatment Center
Finding a detox center can be a daunting task, as there are many options for a person to consider and it is important to find the one that will work best for you. Each treatment center will offer a variety of options for Vicodin treatment and rehab.
Following detox, it is important that the individual continues treatment for their Vicodin use disorder, to make sure they stay on the road to recovery and abstain from Vicodin use. Most treatment centers will provide follow-up treatment that will provide ongoing support to help a person refrain from Vicodin use and provide them with the tools they need to go back to their normal life without using Vicodin.
Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to speak with a representative about how addiction treatment can address Vicodin use alongside any co-occurring mental health disorders. You deserve a healthier future, call today.
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