When does Vicodin kick in?

Vicodin kicks in about 30-60 minutes after oral ingestion. More on when Vicodin starts working and factors that influence Vicodin onset here.

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Vicodin’s kick

Vicodin is used for the purpose of treating pain. Vicodin is considered an opioid (man made) analgesic (pain reliever) and antitussive (cough suppresant). Vicodin is a combination of both hydrocodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen, a non-opioid substances used to help absorb the mediation into the body.

But how fast does Vicodin work? What are the ingredients of Vicodin and what forms of Vicodin work fastest on the body? Do Vicodin side effects last long? We answer these questions here and invite your questions about Vicodin at the end.

Vicodin active ingredients

If you’re planning on taking Vicodin, or take Vicodin to get high, it is important to know about Vicodin’s active ingredients. All types of Vicodin contain both hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Depending on the type of Vicodin you are taking (Vicodin, Vicodin ES, orVicodin HP), each contains different concentrations of ingredients. Other active ingredients present in Vicodin include: colloidal silicon dioxide, crospovidone, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, pregelatinized starch, and stearic acid.

When does Vicodin start working?

Vicodin take an average of about 30 minutes to an hour to take effect on the body. The acetaminophen present in the medication helps to accelerate the absorption rate into the body. It may take longer for some people to feel Vicodin kick in, especially if they have a high tolerance to Vicodin. Some may need higher doses of Vicodin for the analgesic effect to work in the same amount of time.

Vicodin peaks about an hour to an hour and half after Vicodin it starts working on the body system, with strongest effects at this time. Vicodin will continue to work for about another two hours before it begins to wear off and you have to take another dose. Further, stronger concentrations of Vicodin will work for longer amounts of time. Extended release Vicodin can last up to about 6 hours of pain management before it begins to wear off.

When does Vicodin wear off?

Most forms of Vicodin begins to wear off about three to four hours after initial effect. However, if you have developed a high tolerance to hydrocodone, the effects of Vicodin will wear off sooner. Also if you are abusing Vicodin to get high, effects can wear off sooner as well.

Factors that influence Vicodin onset

There are many factors that influence the onset of Vicodin. So what exactly are you waiting for before Vicodin kicks in?

In order for Vicodin to work, hydrocodone must be absorbed into the body. When you take Vicodin, it dissolves with stomach acid and absorbs into the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract. Vicodin is then distributed to opiate receptors in the central nervous systems. This process is what helps block pain and relax smooths muscle. Simultaneously, the acetaminophen in Vicodin affects anti-inflammation in the body. During this process of absorption a number of different factors can affect the rate at which drug onset begins. These factors that influence Vicodin onset include:

Drug bioavailability: Vicodin taken orally has a lower bioavailability then Vicodin that is administered through an IV. With the use of an IV, Vicodin goes straight into the bloodstream. IV-administered Vicodin affects you quicker and can cause euphoria and dizziness. On the other hand, taking Vicodin orally releases the medication slowly into the stomach and then into the blood. Bioavailability is also stronger if you are abusing Vicodin and crushing or snorting Vicodin in order to experience a high.

Drug concentration: Vicodin come in three different strengths. The larger the amount of hydrocodone, the stronger its effect on the body. Also, some forms of Vicodin are designed to be slow release, that is they last longer than versions of Vicodin with a short half life.

Vicodin: hydrocodone 5 mg and acetaminophen 300 mg

Vicodin ES: 7.5 mg hydrocodone and 300 mg acetaminophen Vicodin HP: 10 mg hydrocodone and 300 mg acetaminophen.

Mode of administration: There are several ways to deliver Vicodin into the system. You can take Vicodin orally or you can have it delivered straight into the bloodstream. Other ways people have taken the drug include chewing a Vicodin or crushing and the snorting the powder of the Vicodin through the nose. These practices are not advisable, however, as they can creates euphoria, and affect tolerance, and influence physical dependence on hydrocodone.

Type of delivery: Manufacturers change the way that drugs dissolve in order to modify solubility characteristics, and therefore slow or quicken drug onset. Here is a list of fastest to slowest drug delivery forms. Vicodin is available in liquid, capsule and tablet forms.

1. Liquids are the fastest form of delivery and absorption and will work the quickest.

2. Capsules are pills with a thin coating that quickly dissolve, releasing the hydrocodone in a powder form into the body.

3. Tablets are the slowest acting form of Vicodin. They can come in extended-release (ER or SR)forms. Extended-release Vicodin dissolves slower than regular tablets because they are designed to relieve pain for a longer, extended period of time.

Other medications: Note here that different substances can be dangerous when taken at the same time as Vicodin. It is inadvisable to use alcohol and take Vicodin. This can depress the body muscle and responses in ways that are hazardous to your health. It is also not advisable that you take Vicodin if you are taking certain anti-depressant medications. It is important to let your doctor know what you are taking so that if you are taking Vicodin, it does not put you in a compromising position with other pills.

When does Vicodin peak?

Risks of Vicodin addiction

It is important to be careful that you do not develop an addiction to Vicodin, even when using Vicodin as prescribed. The hydrocodone found in Vicodin has a high potential of becoming habit-forming. In fact, manufacturers warn of its potential for physical and psychological dependence on all Vicodin labels. While Vicodin is extremely effective at treating pain, it is also effective in altering the body chemistry and integrating its chemistry into the body. The body begins be dependent on Vicodin for normal function, causing withdrawal symptoms when you lower or stop taking Vicodin doses. Some also like the effects of Vicodin so much that they use it to self-medicate.

When does Vicodin kick in questions

Do you still have question about how Vicodin works on the body? Still wonder what is in Vicodin and how it will affect your body? Please ask any remaining questions affect your body? Please ask your questions about Vicodin in the comments section below and we will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: Daily Med: Vicodin
Daily Med: Vicodin ES
FDA: QandA acetaminophen
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’ve never took Vicodin ever in my life. So my friend gave me one. I just took it about 45 minutes ago and I feel a very intense euphoria. It’s so bad that I feel real funny. What should I do??

    1. Hi Michael. I suggest it’s best that you have your friend (or anyone else that is sober) drive you to the hospital.

  2. For any future readers who have the same questions as those unanswered:

    @Jill “Will an antacid block the vicodin from being assorbed like in Neuronton?”

    No. Antacids do not cause bioavailability/absorption issues with Hydrocodone (BN: Vicodin) — However, some H2 Receptor antagonists used as antacids (IE: Cimetidine aka: Tagamet) inhibit enzymes responsible for the metabolism and elimination of Hydrocodone. That said, the inhibition in such a drug is somewhat negligible but is still technically a contraindicated drug interaction. Otherwise, an antacid such as Calcium Carbonate (Tums),.. will have no effect on Hydrocodone.


    Yes, technically it would be “safer” lowering the dose of Vicodin. You should always follow the advice of your doctor, however with acute pain control via 5mg of Hydrocodone ,.. breaking it in half resulting in 2.5mg of Hydrocodone to combat side effects, etc would be recommended by any physician you asked. Short answer, yes.

    @Tra “Will vicoden pills show up on an MRI or mrcb? Tests will be done in a day. 24 hours”

    I assume you mean MRCP – Magnetic Resonance cholangiopancreatography — Either way MRI or MRCP will most certainly not detect Vicodin or any other drugs in your body. These imaging diagnostic tests are only going to spot physical features of the human anatomy not anything that has been ingested.

  3. Um….sorry but the info you provided is not all true…vicodin is 5/500, vicodin es is 7.5/750 and vicodin HP is 10/660…also it is not advised to snort vicodin seeing there is apap in these pills..only way it should be insufflated is through a CWE, in which the water should evaporate allowing the hydrocodone to be in powder form

  4. Hello Gloria.

    1. You’ll need to consult a pharmacist about possible contraindications and//or your prescribing MD for more on this.

    2. Yes, opioids can cause constipation. Supplemental fiber can help. Again, speak with a pharmacist and your MD about natural options like psyllium husks or Metamucil.

  5. I have bee prescribed Vicodin ES during dental work.

    1. Can I continue to take Zoloft which I have been taking for years?
    2. Is Vicodin constipating? If yes, how can I counteract this? I have problems with hemmoroids and don’t want to be effected this way.
    I cannot take Advil as I have had ulcer and currently have gastritis.

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