Vicodin Withdrawal and Detox
By The Recovery Village Ridgefield
Editor Thomas Christiansen | Medically Reviewed By Dr. Trisha Sippel, PhD
Last Updated: May 30, 2023
Editorial Policy | Research Policy
Vicodin is a prescription pain medication that is used for the temporary relief of moderate to severe pain following surgery or a traumatic injury. Vicodin is highly addictive. Individuals may become dependent on Vicodin, even when it’s taken as prescribed. Vicodin withdrawal can occur even after a person has been taking Vicodin for as few as five days.
Vicodin works by stimulating opioid receptors in the brain that suppress the sensation of pain. When a person misuses Vicodin, the brain gets used to Vicodin stimulating those receptors. It may become reliant on Vicodin to function normally. When a person stops using Vicodin, the brain will need to re-adjust to the absence of Vicodin and withdrawal symptoms can occur. When withdrawal symptoms occur, the process of detoxification, or Vicodin detox, can help the person function normally without the drug in their system.
Symptoms of Vicodin Withdrawal
If a person has been using Vicodin for a long time, when the drug leaves their system, they may experience withdrawal symptoms that are painful and difficult to deal with. The severity of withdrawal symptoms is impacted by how long a person has used Vicodin and how dependent they are on the drug. Specific symptoms vary from person to person, but the side effects of Vicodin withdrawal include physical and psychological symptoms.
Physical symptoms include:
- Diarrhea or abdominal cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased blood pressure
- Rapid breathing or heart rate
- Sweating or chills
- Muscle aches or pain
- Joint pain or backache
- Restlessness or insomnia
- General weakness
- Teary eyes or a runny nose
- Dilated pupils
Psychological symptoms include:
- Changes in mood
- Feeling anxious
Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline
A person who stops using Vicodin after using it for five days or more may experience withdrawal symptoms. The Vicodin withdrawal timeline varies from person to person. In general, a person could start to feel withdrawal symptoms within 24 hours of last taking Vicodin.
How long Vicodin withdrawal lasts varies depending on how much Vicodin the person used, how often they used it and the total time they have been using Vicodin. With longer duration of use and using higher amounts, the total withdrawal time increases. A person may experience withdrawal symptoms for up to one week following the last use. Some less-severe side effects may last even longer. Vicodin withdrawal after short-term use is also possible, but will not last as long.
When a person wants to stop taking Vicodin, they can use a tapering schedule to slowly taper off Vicodin and minimize the symptoms of withdrawal. This process of tapering is sometimes called detoxification or detox.
Dangers of Vicodin Withdrawal
Vicodin withdrawal can be dangerous if it is done too quickly, like when a person quits cold turkey. Quitting cold turkey is when a person suddenly stops using Vicodin without any additional assistance. This can be dangerous since Vicodin withdrawal can be difficult to deal with and the person may act erratically due to some of the withdrawal symptoms. If the person does not have a support system, quitting cold turkey also increases the chances that someone will relapse into Vicodin use. It is better to talk with a medical professional and develop a plan to stop Vicodin use and deal with withdrawal symptoms.
Can you die from Vicodin withdrawal? Vicodin withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and at times unbearable, but they are not life-threatening. Deaths associated with Vicodin use usually occur as a result of an overdose of the drug rather than from the drug leaving a person’s system.
During Vicodin detox, the person will slowly taper off Vicodin use so that their body can adjust to smaller and smaller amounts of the drug until they eventually function without the drug. How long it takes to detox from Vicodin will vary based on an individual’s specific situation and the detox process they choose.
Medically assisted detox involves tapering off Vicodin while using medications to ease the withdrawal symptoms. This process is usually done under the supervision of a medical professional in an inpatient setting, but in some situations, it can also be done at home. Some common medications used during Vicodin detox include methadone, buprenorphine and clonidine.
When detoxing at a treatment center, medical staff will help you plan out a tapering schedule and provide medications to relieve withdrawal symptoms. They can help you explore rehab treatment options for when the detox process is complete, which will help you to maintain your abstinence from Vicodin once it is cleared from your system.
Tapering Off Vicodin
Tapering off Vicodin helps a person avoid withdrawal symptoms. The amount to wean yourself off Vicodin will vary based on how much you are using and how often you use it. Medical professionals suggest gradually decreasing the dose of Vicodin by 25% to 50% every two to four days. If a person experiences withdrawal symptoms during this time, they can increase the amount back to the previous dose and taper more slowly. The taper can be slowed by lengthening the time before a dose decrease or decreasing the amount of Vicodin taken more gradually.
Detoxing from Vicodin at home can be a difficult process due to the lack of help, both medically or emotionally, and often leads to a person turning back to Vicodin for relief from the withdrawal symptoms. Detoxing from Vicodin at home successfully may involve an outpatient program where a person can regularly meet with a medical professional who will help them through the process.
Finding a Vicodin Detox Center in Washington or Oregon
Finding a detox center can intimidating since there are many options for a person to consider. It is important to find the center and the treatment type that will work best for you. Each treatment center will offer a variety of options for Vicodin treatment and rehab. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a tool to search for opioid addiction treatment centers by state.
There are many detox centers in Washington state that offer treatment for Vicodin use disorders. If you are looking for a drug and alcohol treatment center near Portland, Oregon, or in the Washington area, the Recovery Village Ridgefield can help.
The Recovery Village Ridgefield Detox Center
5114 NE 94th Ave
Vancouver, WA 98662
Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can address your substance use disorder. Take the first step toward a healthier future, call today.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.
AbbVie Inc. “Vicodin Prescribing Information.” February 2017. Accessed September 9, 2019.
MedlinePlus. “Opiate and opioid withdrawal.” May 5, 2018. Accessed September 9, 2019.