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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  1. I had to cut my dose in half to have enough to make it to my next bottle. Will I be okay? I was taking 8 now for 3 days im taking 4

    1. Hi, Vicki. I’ve read that usually experts recommend gradually quitting the drug. So, I suggest you consult a doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule.

  2. Hi I’m really scared, my doctor prescribed me tramadol, over a period of 6 months, I became addictive, I told my mother I was in pain she gave me 20.. 36/10 vicodins, I was trying to wean down with them, she will not give me anymore and I only have 4 left I’m taking 3 day trying to wean down but can’t do it, I don’t want my doctor knowing..please any advise? ? I truly hate this and want to do badly be off, I have a good job and can’t take time off from work….I will never put myself in this situation ever again and am so scared, after o take one 3 hours later I already feel sick..

    1. Hi, J.C. I suggest you to consult your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule only for you.

  3. I know I need something for the pain,I know I don’t like what I’m becoming,I stop but can’t stay off and end up taking more.I can’t afford miss work or buy anything to help in the withdraws I have think to end my pain by killing myself but I have family wouldn’t like them to be sad I need help.

    1. Hi, Jorge. I suggest you consult with a professional on what to do next. You can call the number displayed on our site to to get in touch with our trusted treatment providers who can help you access adequate treatment program. Good luck!

  4. I’m on my 4th day cold turkey from taking vicodin 7.5 with a glass of wine
    I have had a glass of wine in the late afternoon but no pills
    I just got out of the bed after sweats, nausea,diarrhea, and have been able to eat some today
    I have to go back to work tomorrow
    want to stop the wine next

    1. Hello Janet. Good for you for deciding to stop taking Vicodin! However, experts don’t recommend replacing prescribed drugs with alcohol, especially when somebody is quitting them. You may trigger more harsh withdrawal symptoms. If you start getting worse, contact your doctor or call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

  5. hi I have been on vicodin 4months started out 5mg up to 10mg. I took myself off them for 5 days and started having stomach cramps diarrhea and week. I did alert doctor office and told my concerns. I was ignored and went to pharmacy they instructed me to reduce dose until I can taper off so took half of one today what more can I do. I want. off I was taking 75 vicodons per month. help

    1. Hello Cleo. Did the half pill lessen your symptoms? If yes, then keep the same dose for a week or for two weeks. Then, cut off another 10% from the half and take that dose for a week. You can also cut more if you can handle. If you feel any remaining withdrawal symptoms they can be treated with some general over-the-counter medications and home remedies. You can talk to the pharmacists at the pharmacy for more advices.

  6. I have taking it since dx with cervics al dystonia. The pain from this condition was unbearable. I now get botox injections in my neck q three monthtrs. This helps if I also have another med to go along with this treatment. The dr is more concerned about her license than her pt. HELP

  7. I ran out few days before I could fill my norco 7.5mg. Been on them for 2 1/2 years from my pain management. I hurt so bad I thought I would die. I take them for bulging disc in my neck and migraine headaches. Neck is fused and better but headache everyday. Day two I had to go to ER.question is after dealing with going cold turkey and still hurting bad is it too late to do the weaning down at this point? Only in day 4 and still feel so sick.

  8. I ordered a product online called “withdrawal ease” daytime and night time formulas im hoping to get through this and take what is left of my life back. I go through worrying a lot now. This injury took away a lot of opportunities for me. I want to be clearer.

  9. I had a sever spinal cord injury which left me with hardware in my spine. I have worked very hard to maintain my life as normally as possible. In 06 my injury occurred and the Vicodin began. I would receive 200 a month ….but hardly took them in the beginning… then.. I started getting more active.. started taking them more. i went through phases of intakes all the way up to 16 7.5 per day plus 4 norco.. down to 1 everyother day just a couple of years ago . Recently my intake went up, I was receiving 45 every 15 days .. 4 per day max.. and i was taking the max.. my last request for refill was denied because of doctors transitioning. Anyhow, My last pill was 5 days ago. This has happened before.The first time this happened, the pain was so great in my back that i was crawling through the house to find my way to my neuro muscular simulator setting it on high with no hope for relief.. Anyhow, this time I am so much better. I have had the chills, nausea,vomiting and diarrhea I have taken some time off of work.. but go back to morrow and i also see mu doc tomorrow to get my prescription refilled. I want to tell her that i am doing the detox, but really would like to keep vicodin on hand for times when my back goes whacky. I dont want help I just want to do this and be done with it. I feel a lot clearer.. but my back is a bitch and I hope to manage it without the meds. BUT, i am scared that if i don’t have function because the pain is great.. then, I wont be able to support myself. I have insurance for now, but not for much longer and I am truly scared.

  10. This subject means a lot to me, I don’t talk about it much. to be honest it makes tear thinking about it. Just how much those yellow pills ruined 3 years of my life. I feel like I lost everything between when i graduated until I quit. I had so much going for me. To share my story for those dealing with this. Pills are my nemesis. I too, like everyone else….yea yea, is dealing with a great amount of stress. Growing up, being an outstanding athlete, and a well liked guy, I had the world at my fingertips. My family was doing well…but then one day my world was flipped upside down. I’d say it was household tension and of course, the economy. I was always nervous. It was the summer of 2010 and I came home from school, and tried this little yellow pill. Moving in with my parents was hard, and this seemed to make it easy. I had a great job, and was hustling my butt off…I felt invincible on these pills. I was going to rise up immediately. Start making bank and everything will be all good, for me and my family. Well 3 years later, my addiction got worse, ended up spending all my money I made and saved on the pill, and now am having to start all over. Of course, I didn’t want to become addicted or thought, yes, this addiction, I’ll get over. It just deepens all of your problems. You can’t think clearly to make rational decisions. So everything that is going through your mind is either about norcs, or something negative. I was always making problems bigger than they were, instead of picking up the phone and dealing with them. Life was hard and this was making it 10 times harder. It’s just not worth it, and it’s so hard to quit. But you need support from your family, before you loose everything…and i mean everything. So help yourself…tell your wife, gf, bf, sister, bro, dad, mom, teacher, friend whoever your confidant is, that you have a problem. Cause it gets better. And those who can’t sleep…just embrace how amazing it feels to be able and wake up to see the sun rise. I bet you used to wake up at 10 and need a norc. well wake up 6 and get on the treadmill and grub on some good grub. Remember your body is healing. I remember, my gf calling me and telling me she won’t come back from wherever, until i quit. I looked online and saw the same story of this 24 year old, who sounded like a g, was working, functional addict, just wanted to end this miserable feeling. So this is what I did…at 11pm I was in bed norc’d face…I receive a phone call from my gf who thinks I had been sober for a day. that’s when it hit me…Why am I lying to take this pill..I love my gf and she has helped me so much…and I’m lying about quitting..I had 9 yellows left…But that was it…I still have em, keep em in my backpack everyday…I can have one if I want. I just know the consequences…I get mean…And i’m a great dude…I’m not mean. So at 12am that night I looked online and read that article…I cried and couldn’t believe I had t quit. I read that I needed vitimans. So if you can get flaxeed oil omega 3, vitiman c….Dont take vitiman D (stuffs up bowl movements, just chill in the sun) VITAMIN B12 shots, is the norc of vitamins…Well Norcs makes it hard somedays for me to shit….To be quite honest. Our morning bowl movements are important to get rid of. the norcs were making me constipated. I hated that feeling. So being able to shit everyday makes the day better in itself….I took lots of baths with epson salt and showers, on hot to release endorphins …and made sure my parents knew I was getting sober…and keep yourself in a safe place… I Ran on the treadmill or you can ride a bike for 10 minutes, 6 times a day…you will feel like a king or queen, eat healthy and just literally get through the hour. I remember lying in my bath telling my self in 5 days ill be sitting here in the bath feeling much better..5 days later I was, feeling much much better….Around day 40 you’ll feel like a new man or woman, and most definitely not want to only ruin your streak of sobriety. Everything will start looking brighter. The problems that you were once so worried about, seem petty. On day 30 I made 2000 dollars and I was like hell yea, 2 gs , getting sober, i’m gonna be rich soon…I rather have money than norcs. …Of course, most importantly, intercourse with my girl is 1000000000000 times better…. I hope this helps somebody….Much love….. Stay strong!!!! It’s called self control. If you want to be happy with your life. Gain some self control.

  11. I graduated from a top university, played college football….but couldn’t stop taking norcs for 3 years…its been about 2 months since Ive had a norc, and i never want one of those things again. I wanted to quit for a very long time. What happens is when the drug is in your system. you’re body needs it hourly. When withdrawing, and going cold turkey, the first day is a straight blur. Hard to sleep, legs hurt, cant eat…shit for hours, then diarriah, to be quite honest it takes about 40 days to feel like you can go out, and feel somewhat normal..,. The hardest thing i’ve had to do in my 24 years was go that 24 hours of cold turkey. Well 2 months later it was the best thing I’ve done for myself. During that time going cold turkey…my parents lost their house, and my gf daughter became shizo, I still didn’t budge, and let a yellow pill make me feel complete. I don’t even want to take another norc. I don’t want that feeling of having a foggy dead weighted head. Norcs, will and do ruin lives. Anyone who is addicted to this yellow pill needs to stop now. the government needs to ban Vicodin. It changes you into a monster. it made me mean, angry, and not the person I was or even wanted to be. Fortunately, I had my older gf, say no more or else I’m out. So i quite, just like that. I was taking 10-15 a day on top of adderal. I took the adderall to combat the dead head feeling norcs gave me. I only continued so i could feel good. (normal) Just quit. Just fuckin quit. it’s that plain simple. no rehab, no psychiatrist…just ask yourself…DO YOU WANT TO DIE???? I promise you going cold turkey wont kill you, but norcs will. For those on norcs still, you WILLLL feel better off norcs once you quit. I never thought that statement would come true. How could it, norcs make you feel so good….Norcs make you feel good before you become addicted. If you are contemplating taking a painkiller for surgery or recreational use…just ask yourself…when i get addicted, do I really want to waste 100,000 over this yellow pill???? Insurance only will cover the first week of every month, then youre on your own for 3 weeks consumed with this yellow pill…is it worth it. God Bless those who are dealing with this. Do not let addiction shape who you are. Wake up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone has a purpose….just follow your passion. Everyday is a new day, and something good happens everyday.

  12. Hi Jake. Thanks for sharing about how getting off Vicodin is for you. Glad that the tramadol helped a little. And good for you to seek outpatient treatment! We wish you the best. Let us know how we can support you.

  13. I was taking vicodin and then switching off to tramadol and when I finally ran out of both I checked myself into the hospital. I was given clonidine to help with the withdrawl. I had to get away from my home environment because it does not help. It was time to reach out for help anyway I could get it. I go to outpatient starting tomarrow.

  14. Vicodin is a good pain reliever as explained in this blog but taking it continuously for the pain may give generation to other health issue.

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