How is Vicodin prescribed?

Vicodin is prescribed in three strengths as an opiate medication used to help manage pain. More on Vicodin dosage, cost, and prescriptions here.

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Vicodin is an opiate agonist drug that is available in the U.S. only as a prescription medicine. You cannot get Vicodin over-the-counter but must see a doctor for medical reasons related to pain or injury in order to obtain Vicodin. This is because the main ingredient in Vicodin is hydrocodone, which can be addictive.   More on how Vicodin is prescribed, its costs and typical dosage here. We invite your questions about Vicodin prescriptions at the end.

What do doctors prescribe Vicodin for?

Vicodin narcotic analgesic is prescribed in inpatient and outpatient settings by medical doctors (MDs) in family practice or who specialize in pain management. Vicodin is a prescription drug used to manage mild to moderate pain. For pain relief, how long Vicodin lasts is about 4-6 hours.    The main ingredient in Vicodin (hydrocodone) works by altering the way that pain is perceived in the brain. However, Vicodin can also cause feelings of euphoria, which often causes it to be abused.

Vicodin prescription dosage

There are three strengths of Vicodin available by prescription. The lowest contains 5 mg hydrocodone and 500 mg acetaminophen. The next is 7.5 mg hydrocodone and 750 mg acetaminophen. The strongest Vicodin formula is 10 mg hydrocodone and 660 mg acetaminophen. Generally, Vicodin is taken every 6 hours as needed.

Vicodin prescription cost

As with any prescription drug, the cost of Vicodin will depend on your insurance. On the other hand, the generic version of Vicodin is very inexpensive, ranging around $15-20. The name brand Vicodin doesn’t cost much more.

Can you get Vicodin over the counter?

No. Vicodin is available by prescription only. Why? Because hydrocodone makes addictive Vicodin. So Vicodin is only prescribed to people experiencing pain which can’t be helped by over-the-counter medication and whose doctors can monitor use and identify potential abuse.

Signs of Vicodin prescription drug abuse

If you use Vicodin to help manage pain, you might develop a tolerance and dependence on the medication, and be unable to stop taking it abruptly, which is not always a sign of addiction. In fact, if you are taking Vicodin as prescribed, you probably don’t have to worry about drug addiction.

To better understand if you are addicted to Vicodin or not, an addiction to Vicodin results in a psychological compulsion to seek out the drug, even when it has negative effects on the addict’s personal or professional life. When Vicodin is used non-medically to get high, this type of use is a hallmark characteristic of addiction. Someone who abuses Vicodin regularly can become addicted to the narcotic quite easily, particularly if they have a prior history of drug or alcohol abuse.

Vicodin prescription questions

Do you still have questions about Vicodin prescriptions? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will help refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources:DEA: Hydrocodone
Medline Plus: Hydrocodone
ToxNet: Hydrocodone
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 am 81 have been taking the smallest dose of hydro for several years..only 2to 3 a day. Mainly 2.Dr. has offered stronger dose I said no. I have severe no option. I have never felt “high” or had any problems. It just helps with the pain. Without it I am Walker and wheelchair bound! All of a sudden Dr. Will not give anymore. up tolerance..what? My quality of life will be nil. Do not have many yrs. left want to spend as pain free as possible. Is this action on Drs. part due to strictness of drug? He refuses to say really why and has been my Dr. For 15 yrs! Do not want to change doctors.

  2. I have been taking 5mg/500mg for years. No drug seeking behavior. I’m 73 with severe arthritis pain. I’ve had several lesser pain meds that have been discontinued because of anticipated dangers, Percacet etc. My doctor says the new law says she can not phone in perscriptions for Vicodin any more. I have to pick up the written script at her office and she has to see me every 90 days. is this true. Isn’t unnecesary office visits expensive to all? My health insurance would never pay nore would the druggest give me more than I’m accustomed to.

    1. Hi Shirley. I’m not aware it’s a state regulative, but I know that many doctors are starting to do the same. Maybe it’s a new regulation that your doctor’s office is introducing. I do not any logic behind it, unless maybe you will have to schedule and pay as a medical appointment to get your prescription.

  3. It doesn’t matter what the doctor thinks or writes up. CVS pharmacists have decided they are doctors and know what’s best for you. Good luck with that. I chose to just deal with the pain that I will have the rest of my life.

  4. We have a friend T work who we are concerned for. He is or was recovery, herion addict for almost 27 years. We are all very good friends and now he want to uz prescription vicadins on a low dow. For his depression. When he relapsed he did the pill and we did not no and they made him feel good. His drug of choice BTW is heroin.what are yur thouthts. I think we are cosisighing him to hse. Its. Cr A Zy!

  5. Hello Nancy. It sounds like you are describing the phenomenon of tolerance, which is an expected outcome of longer term use of opioids like hydrocodone. Addiction is characterized by craving and euphoric pleasure seeking, of which you report none. I would suggest that you report the break through pain to your doctor, as dosage may need to be changed.

  6. 59 yr old female, 138 pounds, went through physical therapy, lower back and extreme right buttock pain, nothing worked until pain dr. prescribed hydrocodone 10/325 2 per evening as apparently my tolerance to any medication tends to be high. I soon noticed it was horrible waiting until evening time (I work in an office, and sitting is the worse). And the pain as time goes on has gotten somewhat worse. I started taking one the morning, one in the afternoon and if needed, one in the evening if I couldn’t get thru the pain. I have educated myself on this drug and some of what I learned has frightened me. Do you think my doctor will think I am abusing the drug if I mention I oftentimes take 3? I don’t feel any “high” and sometimes with just the one pill I still feel pain but believe me, I can deal with it, and I would rather take the relief I get taking 1 at a time instead of suffering hours waiting to take 2 at a time. I just feel embarrassed that she will think I am trying to pull a fast one. I have never had to deal with pain meds before so its all new to me.

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