Vicodin Withdrawal and Detox

Vicodin is the brand name prescription painkiller that is a synthesis of the opioid hydrocodone and the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen, frequently sold under the brand name Tylenol.

The prescription painkillers abuse is at the root of the opioid crisis, which is responsible for 90 overdose deaths a day in the United States, and Vicodin is at its epicenter.

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In 2015, nearly 60 million people were reportedly using hydrocodone, with a little over seven million misusing or abusing it. It’s also a dangerously popular drug among adolescents, with about 10 percent of all 10th and 12th graders reported to using Vicodin recreationally in 2013.  

And although people might not expect it, the acetaminophen element of Vicodin also has its dangers. Overdosing on acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage and is annually linked to roughly 400 deaths and as many as 42,000 hospitalizations. Because people who become dependent on Vicodin begin to abuse it in higher doses, it’s that much easier to accidentally overdose on acetaminophen even if they do not overdose on the Vicodin itself.

Roughly 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids, so it is vital to get off of Vicodin before you begin to abuse substances that carry even more serious and fatal consequences. That process starts with a medical detoxification.

Ready to overcome your Vicodin addiction? Request a call now and get started today!

Ready to overcome your Vicodin addiction? Request a call now and get started today!

What Are the Vicodin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Despite the addition of the acetaminophen, the symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal are essentially the same as the typical opioid withdrawal symptoms, though their severity will vary from person to person. These include physical symptoms such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tachycardia
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Restlessness and insomnia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea

But withdrawal symptoms aren’t just hard on the body; there are also a number of psychological symptoms that will take their toll on your mind as well. Some psychological symptoms those in Vicodin withdrawal will most likely experience include:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

In order to help cope with Vicodin withdrawal symptoms, doctors will often administer what is known as Medication-Assisted Treatment. In this process, a medication with similar effects as Vicodin can be used to block the euphoric effects of opioids, alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms, and help the patient slowly taper off of Vicodin as the body readjusts.

In the case of opioid withdrawal, buprenorphine is a popular medication, successfully reducing cravings of the abused drug with significantly milder effects on the body. Suboxone is another widely-used medication, a combination of buprenorphine and a drug called naloxone that blocks the brain’s opioid receptors. Suboxone works the same way as buprenorphine, except there is less risk of transferring addictions due to the addition of naloxone.   

What Are the Stages of the Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline?

It takes about four hours for Vicodin to leave the body, and the initial withdrawal symptoms are soon to follow:

8-12 HOURS

Withdrawal begins between 8-12 hours after the last dose. The first symptoms in the early stages of withdrawal resemble a bad case of the flu.

24-48 HOURS

Within the next 24-48 hours, the majority of the physical symptoms will also be present. The psychological symptoms will be appearing as well, although usually overshadowed by the intensity of the physical symptoms at this point in the withdrawal timeline.


Symptoms will persist and eventually start to lessen and fade over the course of the next one to two weeks. After about 10 days, the majority of the symptoms will have subsided, although the psychological ones can persist for weeks or even months after the initial detox.

Overall, it takes about two weeks to be free of Vicodin withdrawal symptoms. However, there is the danger of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, otherwise known as PAWS. PAWS manifests as protracted psychological withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, emotional numbness, memory issues, and an inability to think clearly. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell when these symptoms will end and they can be hard to endure, often leading to relapse.

PAWS is just one of many reasons why it is important not to attempt to detox on your own. Instead, you should do so in a facility of trained professionals who can provide 24/7 treatment and monitoring to aid in relapse prevention and minimize your discomfort as much as possible.

It is important to keep in mind that this is only a general timeline and that the length of time Vicodin withdrawal symptoms will last is different from person to person, depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • How long someone was abusing Vicodin
  • How much of it they were taking and how often
  • How they were taking it (injecting, snorting, etc.)
  • The intensity of the addiction
  • Whether its use was a coping mechanism for mental illness
  • How they choose to stop taking Vicodin

Why Should I Detox?

Going through detoxification is a painful process even in the care of a treatment facility, so it is not surprising that many people would rather find some way around it or avoid it entirely. One option someone might try is just to stop using rather than going through the “bit by bit” process of a detox.

Going cold turkey is never recommended, even if the withdrawal symptoms are not fatally dangerous. Shocking a body that has become dependent on a drug by immediately taking it away will only serve to heighten the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, making a relapse all but inevitable.

Another method people will try to avoid both the length of detox and the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that come with it is anesthesia-assisted detoxification, also known as an ultra-rapid detox. Ultra-rapid detox is meant to speed the process of detox up to mere hours, with the patient under anesthesia so they do not have to experience the withdrawal symptoms.

While it may appear to be an attractive choice, it has repeatedly been proven to be less effective than a regular detox and significantly more dangerous with risks of seizures, cardiac arrest, and even death. As unpleasant as Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are, they’re certainly not worth risking your life to avoid dealing with them.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Detoxification is a critical first step in the path toward a drug-free life, but it is still only the first step, addressing the physical dimension of addiction. In order to understand the psychological aspects of your addiction and change the behaviors behind it, you must move to ongoing treatment, whether it’s residential or outpatient.

Most professional detox centers will be able to provide you with the information and resources you’ll need to help you transition to a treatment facility. If you want to avoid relapse and greatly improve your odds of staying abstinent, you cannot stop at just detox but must, instead, keep moving forward on the road to addiction recovery.

The next step that many people take after detox is residential treatment, where they live at the facility in a secure and drug-free environment while participating in group and individual therapy sessions to get to the root of addiction. This step is crucial, as simply detoxing doesn’t help you fight the thoughts and behaviors that led to your Vicodin addiction.

After residential, the recovery journey doesn’t end there. Staying connected through outpatient treatment programs can help you avoid relapse and keep you accountable as you transition back into living at home.

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Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

Recovery from drug addiction and successfully managing your addiction following a rehabilitation program requires a lifetime of work, but it can be made easier if it starts with detoxification.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Vicodin or another substance and is ready to make a change, Maryland House Detox will help you make it happen. Our admissions professionals are available 24/7 to answer your questions and get you in touch with the resources you need. Call us today at 855-969-8748 or contact us online.