Is Vicodin a narcotic?

Yes, Vicodin is a narcotic. A combination of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen, Vicodin is a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act. More on the classification of narcotivs and Vicodin here.

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Yes. Vicodin is a narcotic.

Vicodin is both a medical and a legal narcotic.  First, the main ingredient of Vicodin (hydrocodone) is an an opiod analgesic, or pain reliever. Second, Vicodin is scheduled as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it has a medical use but can only be legally used when prescribed.   In fact,  Vicodin is highly addictive and dangerous when abused. So how should you take Vicodin and how do Vicodin addictive properties influence use?

More here on why you must use Vicodin with caution.

What is a Narcotic?

Vicodin as a medical narcotic –  What are Vicodin used for?  Mainly, pain relief.  Sometime to help ease coughing.  In medical terms, a narcotic is a medication prescribed primarily for pain relief. Narcotics have a high level of abuse and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples are morphine, opium, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and oxycodone (Oxycontin). Vicodin is classified as a narcotic, because it contains hydrocodone bitartrate 10 mg, a synthetic opiate.

Vicodin as a legal narcotic – In legal terms, all medications which are classified as “narcotics” must be under prescription. Narcotics are classified as Schedule I,II,or III by the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. In this classification system, drugs are sorted as highly to relatively addictive. In general, most narcotic medications have a valid medical use which is not restricted to the medical definition of providing pain relief. While this class of narcotic medicines can legally be obtained by prescription, illegal possession without a prescription carries high penalties.

Why is Vicodin a Schedule III drug?

Any medication containing less than 15 mg of hydrocodone is classified as a schedule III drug in the DEA Controlled Substances schedule. Vicodin falls in this schedule, which states that it has a potential for abuse less than substances in schedules I and II and abuse may result in moderate to low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Is Vicodin Addictive?

Yes. Psychological dependence, physical dependence and tolerance may develop upon repeated administration of Vicodin. In fact, Vicodin contains one of the most addictive and abused narcotics, hydrocodone. FDA approved Vicodin labels contain warnings that state that Vicodin tablets should be administered with caution.  Symptoms Vicodin withdrawal are often painful, uncomfortable, and long lasting (sometimes up to a week or longer after last use). One example of a manufacturer statement includes:

“Hydrocodone may be habit forming. Patients should take the drug only as long as it is prescribed and no more frequently than prescribed.”

Should Vicodin have a stricter classification?

Touted as a safer treatment for moderate to moderately severe pain, Vicodin ingredients fall below the threshold to be classified as a schedule II drug, and is readily available for multiple prescriptions. However, statistics related to Vicodin use indicate increased ER visits and deaths associated with prescription pain killers. Emergency room visits related to hydrocodone abuse are on the rise, according to data supplied by the DEA. Vicodin is part of this grim picture. Prescription painkillers have contributed to thousands of deaths which are also on the increase, the Centers for Disease Control reports. Vicodin is a part of these statistics. So why is Vicodin available for up to 5 refills per six months w/o face to face with a doctor?

Furthermore, it appears that the addictive properties and tolerance levels of Vicodin encourage patients to take more Vicodin than prescribed and may lead to illegal purchase of the narcotic. To prevent this, a new classification as a Schedule II drug requires a new prescription on each refill. Face-to-face visits would help ethical doctors receive more information on addiction liability or occurrence.

It may be time to look at the statistics related to Vicodin and amend the classification. Vicodin contains a very powerful and schedule II narcotic ingredient, hydrocodone, which is being abused in epidemic proportions in this county today.

Vicodin narcotic questions?

Do you have more questions or perhaps a comment on Vicodin as a narcotic drug? Please leave your questions here. We will be happy to respond to your questions or comments with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: DEA Drug Schedules from the Controlled Substances Act\
Medline Plus hydrocodone overdose encyclopedia topic
Daily Med drug info on Vicodin
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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