The side effects of Vicodin withdrawal can be excruciating, but they aren’t typically dangerous. Medical detox or medication-assisted treatment can help.
Vicodin is a prescription opiate painkiller that’s a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Used to treat moderate to severe pain, Vicodin, like all opioid pain relievers, is highly addictive. It’s also dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Vicodin is one of the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths. But ending an addiction to Vicodin is challenging, especially if you’ve developed a dependence on the drug. Dependence results in withdrawal symptoms when you stop using a drug, and the side effects of Vicodin withdrawal can be excruciating enough to send you right back to using.
Here’s what you need to know about the side effects of Vicodin withdrawal and how you can end your addiction and dependence for good.
How Does Dependence Develop?
When you heavily abuse a drug like Vicodin, it produces dramatic changes in the chemical function of the brain, including causing a massive dopamine rush. Dopamine is responsible for the calm, euphoric feelings that Vicodin and other opioids produce. But when such large amounts of dopamine are released, the brain changes the way it functions chemically in order to compensate for it, including by reducing the function of the dopamine system. The result is tolerance, which is characterized by needing increasingly larger doses of Vicodin to get the desired effects.
But as you consume more Vicodin, your brain continues to change its function to compensate. At some point, the brain may reach a tipping point wherein it now operates more comfortably when Vicodin is present than when it’s not. When you stop using Vicodin, normal brain function rebounds, and this causes the onset of withdrawal.
Side Effects of Vicodin Withdrawal: What Does Withdrawal Feel Like?
Vicodin withdrawal causes a number of symptoms. So, what does withdrawal feel like? Many compare it to having the flu, because symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Body aches
- Runny nose
- Hot and cold sweats
- Abdominal cramps and diarrhea
- Nausea and vomiting
These side effects of Vicodin withdrawal can range from mild to severe, and not everyone will necessarily experience all of the symptoms.
Vicodin Withdrawal Help
For those trying to stop taking Vicodin without help, the symptoms of withdrawal can quickly lead to relapse, if only to end the discomfort. Vicodin withdrawal help improves your chances of successfully addressing the dependence through either medical detox or medication-assisted treatment.
Medical detox is a medically supervised process that’s available through high quality treatment programs. It involves administering medications as needed to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and reduce the time it takes to detox, which is typically four to 20 days. Medical detox improves your comfort level during withdrawal, and it offers around-the-clock supervision and a high level of support from peers and staff. Medical detox only addresses the physical dependence on Vicodin, though, and does very little to address the complex issues behind the addiction. Without addiction treatment, the relapse rate for opioids after detox is around 91 percent.
Increasingly, experts are recommending medication-assisted treatment as the best option for treating opioid addiction and dependence. Medication-assisted treatment involves taking a less-psychoactive opioid medication to prevent withdrawal, block the euphoric effects of opioids, help to restore normal brain function, and reduce cravings, which can persist for months after detox.
Buprenorphine and methadone are the two FDA-approved medications that can be used without going through the detox process. Naltrexone, a newer medication, can only be administered once detox is complete.
Medication-assisted treatment is safe and effective. It enables individuals to focus on addiction treatment and recovery without the burden of cravings and cognitive and emotional symptoms. Medication-assisted treatment can last as long as you need it to, whether that’s a few months, a few years, or a lifetime.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.