What is Vicodin withdrawal?

Withdrawing from Vicodin feels very much like the flu with chills, sweats, aches and pains. More on what is Vicodin withdrawal and treatments that help here.

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Are you planning a Vicodin withdrawal?

Whether you need to treat physical dependence on Vicodin (hydrocodone) or treat Vicodin addiction, it’s best to prepare for severity and length of Vicodin withdrawal. Here, we review what happens in the body and brain when you withdraw from Vicodin and why. Plus, how Vicodin withdrawal feels and what can help ease symptoms. Then we invite your questions about withdrawing from Vicodin at the end.

What is Vicodin withdrawal syndrome?

Vicodin is an opioid blend of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Vicodin, like most opioids, suppresses pain receptors in the brain while relaxes smooth muscle. Unlike generic hydrocodone, the acetaminophen mixed into the Vicodin makes physical dependency more likely. In fact, you can become dependent on Vicodina after only a few weeks of daily use. And the longer you are on Vicodin, the greater the chance you will develop a tolerance to Vicodin.

Once you have developed physical dependence on Vicodin, your body and brain need the narcotic to function normally. In essence, the neurotransmitters in the central nervous system have adapted to the presence of hydrocodone in the system and adjust according. Because of this phenomenon, once you have stopped taking Vicodin, you experience withdrawal. Withdrawal happens because the brain is trying to compensate for no longer having Vicodin in the system. The central nervous system, instead, resets the chemical interactions to stabilize the body back to normal.

What is withdrawal from Vicodin like?

Withdrawing from Vicodin can be distressing and painful and is much like a bad, bad flu. In addition to physical symptoms, psycho-emotional symptoms of depression or extreme dissatisfaction can be present. Vicodin take care of not only physical pain but also ourpsychological responses to the world. Once you have stopped taking Vicodin, reality can feel overwhelming. As with most opioid medications, withdrawing from Vicodin feels very much like a virus as you experience chills, sweats, aches and pains. During withdrawal from Vicodin, you may feel any of the following symptoms:

  • abdominal cramps
  • anxiety and agitation
  • confusion
  • craving
  • diarrhea
  • drowsiness and fatigue
  • erratic moods
  • nausea and vomiting
  • seizures
  • sleep disturbance
  • strong drug craving
  • yellowing of the skin
  • yellowing of the whites of the eyes

What does Vicodin withdrawal feel like?

Vicodin withdrawal will make you feel agitated and anxious. In fact, the psychological effects of withdrawal can be frustrating to manage. Vicodin withdrawal also feels like you are physically sick for a week, or more. Withdrawal from Vicodin can be a long and demanding process. You’ll begin to notice symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal 6 to 12 hours after your last dose of Vicodin has worn off. Symptoms peak in the first 72 hours but generally diminish within a couple of weeks.

What helps with Vicodin withdrawal?

For the most part, detoxing from Vicodin is not life-threatening but can be uneasy and at times a little scary. It is always a helpful to work with a doctor to help monitor the withdrawal process. The most important protocol for helping Vicodin withdrawal is to taper your medication doses over several weeks to compensate for the withdrawal symptoms. Dose tapering is supervised by a clinical expert, and can be adjusted according to symptomatic conditions. But generally, decreased dosing is never more than 10% at a time, and is reduced by 25% weekly, until almost no hydrocodone is in your system.

Medications might be also used to help to treat withdrawing from Vicodin symptoms. Doctors may prescribe clonidine for severe withdrawal which reduces anxiety, agitation, muscle cramps, and sweating. Otherwise, naloxone or buprenorphine have been found to address drug cravings in heavily dependent or addicted people. Just be careful to report all current prescription use so that medications are not counter indicated and won’t affect you adversely.

Home remedies and medications are also other ways which can help the process of withdrawal. Home remedies support you withdrawal symptoms and give you a level of control over the process. Many people going through Vicodin withdrawal have reported a great deal of success using only household supports. Some home remedies for Vicodin withdrawal include the following:

  1. Applying cold behind the ears or neck for feverish sweating Drinking peppermint or ginger teas for nausea
  2. Eating only bland diets
  3. Increase fluid and electrolyte intake
  4. Keeping busy
  5. Taking warm showers or baths
  6. Talking to someone
  7. Using heating pads to relieve muscle cramps and aches
  8. Using Immodium, AD, Ibuprofen and Tylenol

Questions about Vicodin withdrawal

Do you still have questions about Vicodin Withdrawal?Please share your questions and experiences with Vicodin in the comments section below. And we’ll try to respond to your Vicodin questions personally ASAP.

Reference Sources: Medicaid: Opioid Taper Plan Toolkit
Daily Med: Vicodin 
Drug Enforcement Administration: Hydrocodone
DailyMed: FDA Drug Info for Vicodin
National Library of Medicine: Clonidine therapy for narcotic withdrawal
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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