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Vicodin Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Detox

Vicodin withdrawal

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It happens when one stops taking Vicodin after completing the course of treatment or as a part of detox. The level of drug in the blood falls. It causes a set of unpleasant or sometimes serious effects. These effects are withdrawal symptoms. Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of the other opiate drugs such as Morphine, Codeine, and Hydromorphone.
Vicodin is a combination painkiller that contains an opiate, Hydrocodone, and an over-the-counter drug, Acetaminophen. Available only as a prescription, it provides relief from different types of pain. They include acute and chronic pain plus moderate to severe.
Because it contains Hydrocodone, Vicodin can become addictive. Both long term and short term use can lead to dependence. However, the latter is more likely to be the cause of addiction.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) promotes the implementation of strict guidelines for Vicodin. This is due to its widespread use and high addiction potential. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) places hydrocodone and hydrocodone-containing drug combinations under Schedule II for controlled substances.

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Table of Contents

Watch These Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms and Act Fast

Initially, withdrawal symptoms mimic those of flu. This is one of the reasons why one may fail to identify dependence or if it’s developing. Over time, patients may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
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  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Unstable mood
  • Inability to fall asleep or maintain a sleep
  • Sweating
  • Increased nasal secretion
  • Pain in muscle
  • Shakiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased drug cravings

Users may experience some of the symptoms from above within a few hours or days after stopping Vicodin. If it happens, one should talk to a doctor right away. Patients will need to know if they are due to drug dependence. It is always a good idea to take note of the symptoms. This is especially after one has stopped taking drugs and because of the high addiction potential. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment make the withdrawal symptoms more manageable. Furthermore, it decreases the risk of complications and long-term addiction.

Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline: How Long Will It Last?

Vicodin withdrawal is a very subjective experience. Furthermore, how long the withdrawal lasts can be very different between people. For some, it may last just for a few days while others may experience the symptoms for weeks or even months. Therefore, it is very difficult to set the timeline for Vicodin withdrawal exactly.
One can link half-life of the drug to the appearance of withdrawal symptoms. A drug with a longer half-life leaves the bloodstream more slowly, thus delaying the withdrawal. In contrast, drugs having a short half-life leave the bloodstream early. As a result, withdrawal can occur much faster. Generally, Vicodin withdrawal symptoms begin 6 to 12 hours after the last dose.
Here is a quick view of Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline

Day 1Muscle pain, joint pain, nausea, vomiting, and sweatingModerateThis phase of Vicodin withdrawal mainly consists of physiological symptoms
Day 3-5Diarrhea, Vomiting, Excessive sweating, tremors, and continued muscle achesHighThis is the peak and the most uncomfortable phase of the withdrawal. The strong urges to get back to the addiction can ruin all the efforts for a drug-free life
Day 6-7Most physiological symptoms should have subsided by now. Psychological symptoms such as craving, anxiety, and depression may persistModerateThis phase is more troublesome to the mind than the body.
More than 7Anxiety and mood problems may linger for the next few weeks or even a monthModerateThese symptoms do not cause much worry as long as one maintains the normal routine and treatment guidelines

Vicodin Detox

Drug detox is a short-term program which tries to remove as much drug from the bloodstream as possible. As the drug starts leaving the body, a patient will experience several undesirable symptoms. Doctors can help alleviate many of these symptoms by prescribing medications. They will act especially against the drug effects or produce similar but milder effects.

Medical Detox: Which Medications Are Used To Detox From Vicodin?

They call type of detox which uses medications to treat symptoms of withdrawal medical detox. The US FDA has approved the use of opioid antagonists such as Buprenorphine and Methadone during a Vicodin detox.
White PillBuprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, unlike Hydrocodone. One can find it in Vicodin, which is a full agonist. It is less addictive and produces milder effects. It provides relief from the symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal and also reduces cravings. Methadone is a US FDA-approved opioid medication for Vicodin detox.
There is another way to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings during the detox. This is by gradually decreasing the dose of Vicodin. They call this dose tapering, and it should only happen under the supervision of doctors.
A doctor may prescribe medications like antidepressants for anxiety, and mood-stabilizing agents for mood swings. This is to manage other Vicodin withdrawal symptoms.

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Vicodin?

Every case of addiction is unique. One individual’s response to the drug or its treatment may not match that of another. Therefore, it is difficult to set a time frame for the detox from Vicodin exactly. Duration of the detox will last as long the withdrawal symptoms remain with the patient.
Once the detox is over, the patient can switch to other long-term rehabilitation programs to prevent relapse.

Want To Learn More

Having an addict in the family is a hard burden. If there is someone who is struggling with drug addiction, or there is a need to learn more about Vicodin withdrawal and detox, talk to experts nearby.

View Sources
  1. Medline Plus. Opiate and opioid withdrawal. 2019.
  2. Krashin D., Murinova N., Trescot A. M. Extended-release hydrocodone – gift or curse?. Journal of Pain Research. 2013; 6: 53–57. doi:10.2147/JPR.S33062.
Nena Messina

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.


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