Cold turkey Vicodin

Should you stop taking Vicodin cold turkey or consider a tapering schedule? Risks include negative psychological and physical responses. More on how to avoid cold turkey Vicodin withdrawal here.

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Going cold turkey Vicodin?

Vicodin (hydrocodone) is one of the most effective medications for the treatment of pain. But Vicodin also has a high dependency rate. This means that if you take Vicodin daily, your body will become dependent on Vicodin after the course of a few weeks. But stopping Vicodin cold turkey IS NOT a necessary step for Vicodin dependent users.

So when withdrawing from Vicodin, what does cold turkey withdrawal feel like? What are the risks involved in stopping Vicodin cold turkey? And what are some alternatives to going cold turkey off Vicodin? We answer these question here. And as always, we invite questions your questions about Vicodin at the end.

Cold turkey off Vicodin

What happens when you decide to go cold turkey off Vicodin? If you go cold turkey off Vicodin without a taper, you run the risk of body discomfort and may experience a more severe Vicodin withdrawal period. The reason for this is after you use Vicodin for an extended period of time, the body needs hydrocodone in the body to function. And when you go cold turkey off Vicodin, your central nervous system reacts to the lack of hydrocodone by manifesting withdrawal symptoms. Deprive the body of Vicodin abruptly, and your brain and central nervous system literally freak out.

When Vicodin withdrawal occurs quickly, it can be debilitating. Symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal usually peak after 3 days, but can last for a week or more. Plus, the experience of pain and sickness that comes as your body tries to balance itself out is intesified when you go cold tueky off Vicodin. It like throwing a non-swimmer into a pool and hoping they don’t drown. This is not to say that you can’t stop taking Vicodin cold turkey or that it can’t work for you. But simply a caution that cold turkey withdrawal from Vicodin is not necessary if you want to get off Vicodin for good.

Cold turkey Vicodin withdrawal

If you stop taking Vicodin suddenly, expect to go through withdrawal. Cold turkey Vicodin withdrawal can be longer, more severe and/or intense than if you taper Vicodin doses. But what symptoms are present during cold turkey Vicodin withdrawal?

You will begin to feel cold turkey Vicodin withdrawal as your last dose of hydrocodone wears off in the body. As with most opioid medications, withdrawing from Vicodin is like getting a bad flu bug for a while. Any pain present can return, as well as negative psychological responses to the world. Along with insomnia come feelings of discomfort, irritably, and depression. During cold turkey Vicodin withdrawal, your body is stressed and over excited. Being sick can last for about a week. The most common symptoms of cold turkey Vicodin withdrawal include:

  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • muscle pains
  • stomach pains and nausea

If you plan a cold turkey Vicodin withdrawal, plan to feel really sick for a while. Maybe take some time off work. After a about a week to 10 days, the intensity of most cold turkey Vicodin withdrawal symptoms should dissipate. But WHO should consider quitting Vicodin cold turkey?

Quitting Vicodin cold turkey

Always consult with your doctor before quitting Vicodin cold turkey. Those best suited to quit Vicodin cold turkey are people who haven’t been using Vicodin over extended periods of time or whose physical dependency is not extensive. These factors allow for an overall easier time with withdrawal. Additionally, Vicodin is used to treat severe pain so it would also be helpful to resolve the underlying pain conditions first before you make a decision to suddenly quit Vicodin cold turkey.

Clinically speaking, make sure that you’re in the best possible environment as you are quitting Vicodin cold turkey and that you have the necessary physical and emotional supports to care for the detox period. Doctors recommended that you have no compromising co-occurring health conditions and that you take really good care of yourself as you are quitting Vicodin cold turkey. Take time off work (about a week) as you withdraw. Having a support group and a high desire to go through Vicodin cold turkey withdrawal is also helpful. In the best of worlds, quit Vicodin cold turkey under medical monitoring or go through detox so that medical professionals can assess and address conditions that may arise.

Stopping Vicodin cold turkey risks

When you stop Vicodin cold turkey, you can run the risks of developinghealth complications. Along with excessive pain and discomfort, risks of stopping Vicodin cold turkey include:

  • extreme fatigue
  • increased anxiety
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • mood swings
  • seizures and convulsions
  • ulcers

There is no way to tell if you will experience complications when you stop taking Vicodin cold turkey, or not. The healthier you are, the better the chances you have of stopping Vicodin cold turkey without significant problems. And at times, Vicodin cold turkey can’t be unavoidable. If this is the case, know that stopping Vicodin cold turkey IS NOT life threatening.

Get off Vicodin cold turkey

Doctors don’t generally recommend stopping Vicodin cold turkey. Getting off Vicodin cold turkey is needlessly painful and in many ways cruel. Instead, doctors recommend a scehdule of tapered doses of Vicodin over the course of several weeks. Your prescribing doctor will work with you and monitor this process by tinkering with your dose so that it’s best for your body. Always seek medical advice when considering tapering off an opioid like Vicodin. After several weeks, you will no longer have Vicodin in the system and the discomfort of Vicodin withdrawal can be minimized. General guidelines for tapering Vicodin doses are:

1. A decrease by 10% of the original dose per week is usually well tolerated with minimal physiological adverse effects.

2. For a quicker tapering schedule, Reduce the dose by 10% daily, 20% every 3-5 days , and 25% per week

3. Avoid reducing the daily dose by > 50% at any given interval.

Can I quit Vicodin cold turkey?

People who respond well to quitting Vicodin cold turkey are those who:

  • DO NOT have underlying mental conditions
  • DO NOT have underlying physical health issues
  • ARE NOT addicted to Vicodin
  • Have a high desire and strong will to stop taking Vicodin

As long as you have the support and willpower to quit Vicodin and know that it may be painful, then a cold turkey cessation can work for you. Still, seek medical counsel and make sure someone knows you are going to quit Vicodin cold turkey so they can help, just in case something goes wrong.

Cold turkey Vicodin questions

Do you still have questions about stopping Vicodin cold turkey? Please send us your questions in the comment form below. We would also like to hear from people who have tried stopping cold turkey. You experiences are important to us. We try to respond to all comments with a personal and prompt reply.

Drug Abuse: Opioids and Pain Relievers 
DOI: Opiates (Narcotics) Fact Sheet
Utah Clinical Guidelines on Prescribing Opioids for Treatment of Pain: Strategies for Tapering & Weaning
NCBI: Perforation of peptic ulcer following abrupt cessation of long-term opiate use
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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