Vicodin Withdrawal

by on April 27, 2012

Withdrawal may occur if a patient abruptly stops taking Vicodin after regularly using it for a long period of time. To avoid the unpleasant effects of quitting Vicodin, it is best to stop taking this drug gradually.

Vicodin is a combination medication FDA-indicated for moderate to severe pain. It contains Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen in one tablet or capsule. The combination product is commercially available in several strengths and doses for children, teens, and adults. Additionally, Hydrocodone can be compounded in higher strengths at special pharmacies. Stronger doses may result in increases chance of side effects and adverse events (like dependence). A prescription is necessary to obtain Vicodin.

If you are battling with Vicodin addiction, the best way to successfully quit taking the medication is with the help of a professional treatment program. Symptoms of withdrawal from Vicodin include:

  • Agitation
  • Sweating
  • Running nose
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How to Prevent Vicodin Withdrawal

To prevent Vicodin Withdrawal, one must first understand opioid tolerance. For example, as you exercise a muscle, it becomes stronger. To continue growing a muscle, you must add extra weight or exercise for longer periods of time. The muscle becomes “tolerant” to the exercise. The body (specifically the liver) becomes tolerant to Vicodin the longer you take it. Therefore, for you to get the same pain killing effect, more medication (a higher dose) must be consumed. Vicodin is FDA-indicated for short-term use for moderate to severe pain.

  • Be sure to tell every healthcare provider (including your dentist) you come into contact with about all your medications and medical allergies.
  • Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, attempting to become pregnant, breast-feeding, or pumping breast milk for your infant.
  • Keep all prescription and over-the-counter medication in a safe, locked location (away from infants, toddlers, and children that may not know any harm).
  • Always consult your healthcare provider when taking prescription and over-the-counter medications.
  • Avoid taking other "narcotic" or opioid pain relievers while taking Vicodin, as this can result in adverse effects (namely, an increased risk of overdose).
  • Avoid drinking alcohol of any kind (beer, wine, or liquors) when taking Vicodin (as this may result in adverse side effects).
  • Avoid taking Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Valium, or Ativan) with Vicodin (as this may result in a harmful drug to drug interaction and side effects).
  • Avoid taking prescription Sedative/Hypnotics or Sleep Aids (such as Eszopiclone, Ramelteon, or Ambien) while taking Vicodin. Using these medications together may result in changes in breathing, sedation, and dangerous side effects.
  • If you, or someone you love, has overdosed on Vicodin, call National Poison Control Center a 1-800-222-1222 immediately (or dial 9-1-1) as this is a medical emergency.
  • Only A physician/surgeon, physician's assistant, dentist, or advanced practice nurse should prescribe this medication to you


If opioid analgesics are needed for long-term control of pain during pregnancy, mothers are oftentimes prescribed Methadone rather than Vicodin. Methadone and Buprenorphine can be safely used for pain relief during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Both pass through the placenta and into breastmilk; however, evidence has shown that they can be more easily tapered after the infant is born. Infants from mothers taking opioids do go through withdrawal; however, the infant can be given systematically lower and lower doses of opioids until they are “weaned off”.