Thursday September 29th 2016

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Can you die from taking Vicodin?

Yes. Taking too much Vicodin can make you seriously ill or kill you.

Vicodin, a narcotic drug and prescription painkiller, contains two active ingredients.  Both of these can cause an overdose. This is why it’s important to take Vicodin only at the recommended dosages and under the supervision of a doctor. Learn more about Vicodin ingredients, and dangers of overdose here. We invite your questions about taking Vicodin, Vicodin use, or possible problems with Vicodin at the end.

Dangers of Vicodin ingredients

Vicodin contains two painkilling drugs: acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), and the opiate painkiller hydrocodone.

1. Acetaminophen – Acetaminophen is dangerous because in high doses it can cause severe liver damage. Not only can large amounts of acetaminophen cause an overdose, but chronic over-use can cause liver problems over time.

2. Hydrocodone – Hydrocodone is the ingredient found in Vicodin that is associated with addiction or abuse. Hydrocodone is what causes you to feel high on Vicodin.  Hydrocodone is addictive and causes serious withdrawal symptoms when people stop taking the medication after long term use or abuse. Hydrocodone can cause loss of consciousness, a slowed rate of breathing, or even death.

Signs of Vicodin overdose

Serious side effects of taking Vicodin occur with when a person takes larger doses of Vicodin that prescribed. In cases of severe overdose on Vicodin, heart failure, circulatory collapse, and respiratory failure can all occur. Overdose on acetaminophen is especially dangerous, as an overdose is possible in some cases at fairly low doses (less than 10 grams). While sometimes the effects may not cause any symptoms until 48-72 hours after ingestion, A\acetaminophen overdose can cause symptoms of:

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  • excessive sweating
  • general feeling of illness
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Hydrocodone also causes overdose symptoms, including:

  • cold and clammy skin
  • extreme drowsiness and possible loss of consciousness or coma
  • changes in heart rate
  • slowed breathing or difficulty breathing

How to treat Vicodin overdose

The treatment for Vicodin overdose depends on how recently a person took the pills and how many were taken. If Vicodin was taken recently, measures will be taken to reduce the absorption of the drug by inducing vomiting or pumping the stomach. In a hospital setting, respiratory and cardiac support will be provided as needed. Vitamin K may be administered if an acetaminophen overdose is preventing blood from clotting normally. A narcotic antagonist drug may be given to counteract the effects of the hydrocodone.

Are you taking too much Vicodin?

Because Vicodin is a drug that is addictive and builds a tolerance quickly (hydrocodone addicted drug), it is easy to understand how the drug can be misused. Even a person using Vicodin as prescribed may feel they need to take increased doses of the medication to get the same level of pain relief over time. Unfortunately, since acetaminophen is toxic at such low doses, this can do long-term damage to the liver. Just 10 grams of acetaminophen is considered toxic for most adults – less, in some cases.

Help for Vicodin use or misuse

If you’re taking more Vicodin than recommended, or abusing Vicodin recreationally, please talk to your doctor about treatments and programs to help curb the addiction. Therapy may be helpful, as well as support groups like Narcotics Anonymous. There is help available, if you look for it. Or ask us your questions about taking Vicodin or problems with Vicodin here. We will be happy to answer your questions with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources:  DailyMed: Vicodin Drug Label
PubMed Health: Hydrocodone
MedLine Plus: Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen Overdose

Photo credit: t. abroudj

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6 Responses to “Can you die from taking Vicodin?
sally porter
7:11 am July 12th, 2013

hydrocone and alcohol together danger of od

Daisy
8:06 pm July 2nd, 2014

I take two Vicodin tablets (5/325) when I go to bed. Sometimes, I forget if I took them or not. If I should take them a second time, would it hurt me? I take it for lower back pain which it does help but I honestly don’t see how a person can get “high” on it. How would you know if you were high? I am not a recreational drug user, I only take what the doctor prescribes. I hear people say it makes them high but I don’t get it. Am I missing something? Not that I WANT to get high, I like being in full control of what I think or do.

Thank you in advance
Daisy

9:20 am July 3rd, 2014

Hello Daisy. Here is what it says on the warning label of Vicodin: “If you are taking this product on a regular schedule and miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.” So, maybe you can think of a little ritual that will help you remember if you took the dose. Perhaps a calendar or a schedule to mark it when you take your dose. If you take a double dose it might make you feel warm, fizzy and sedated.

Christine
12:16 am October 16th, 2015

I take vicodin 5 milligrams 300 Tylenol two tablets 3 times a day for the past two years for across leg injury sometimes I only take 4 tablets a day I get blood work done every 3 months my liver enzymes are normal I do not do recreational drugs can i die from this dosage

5:24 pm November 4th, 2015

Hi Christine. If you are regularly taking your medications in this dosage, your organism is adapted to the frequency and dose. I don’t believe that you will die, but I believe that your organism may be experiencing changes and potential harm from chronic and repetitive use.

susoe
8:15 pm February 19th, 2016

daisy i’m with you girl but our dosage is very different i HAVE to take 7,5 tabs 4 times a day,,trust me i KNOW when i have forgotten, it is for my lower back too, i used to be a UPS driver and i injured my back when i was young but didn’t say anything because i was making 800.00 a week in 1987 and i was a single mother, obviously it got so bad i had to quit, i have a very small disability check now,, thank GOD my husband has a good job with good ins. now i dont feel a high either at all, all i feel is terrible pain if i dont take it,,,plz let me suggest something to you ,,if you forget, and your not hurting DONT take another does just in case ,,if you needed one your body would tell you,dont want you to overdose,,did you know that our liver can overdose and stop functioning LONG before t’he vicodin can hurt us,,the tylenol in vicodine is 100 times worse for our body than the vicodin so take as little as possible, i’ve had to be a slave to this medicine for 21 years now,,i was only 23 when i hurt my back and didnt tell anyone

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