Vicodin Risks and Effects

what is vicodin

What is Vicodin?

What is Vicodin? With the ongoing opioid epidemic, this is a question many people have. Vicodin is a brand name for a drug called hydrocodone. Vicodin contains hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen. There are three forms of Vicodin that are offered. They are Vicodin, Vicodin ES, and Vicodin HP.

What Is a Vicodin Overdose?

Along with wondering what is Vicodin, another common area where people have questions is the potential for a Vicodin overdose. Users of Vicodin are exposed to the risks of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction. When not taken properly, or when taken with alcohol, Vicodin can lead to respiratory depression that is life-threatening. The medication is in tablet form. Vicodin does contain acetaminophen, which when not taken properly, can lead to liver damage.

Anyone who has accidentally ingested more than 4 grams of acetaminophen in a day, even if they are feeling well, must seek medical treatment right away.

Vicodin is commonly used to treat pain, but it should not be used for long-term. It is most often used for treating pain associated with injuries, dental work, or surgical procedures. While not approved for other uses, it is sometimes prescribed to treat cough or insomnia.

Vicodin Dosage Instructions

When a physician prescribes a Vicodin, the dosage is based on the patient response and the condition being treated. Vicodin should not be taken any longer than it was prescribed for. You should not increase the dosage, or it take it more frequently than prescribed.

It should be taken early, as the pain first appears, so it will be more effective. If the medication isn’t used as prescribed, it can lead to the symptoms of withdrawal. Suddenly stopping Vicodin, without tapering the drug, can lead to various signs of withdrawal, including:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Watering eyes
  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion

To avoid these kinds of symptoms, your physician will reduce your dosage gradually. If you notice any signs of withdrawal, talk with your pharmacist or your physician.

Vicodin Addiction 

Although Vicodin offers benefits when taken properly for treating pain, it can also be addictive. Those who have a substance abuse disorder, or who have previously abused or had an addiction to alcohol or another drug, are more susceptible. To reduce the chances of becoming addicted, the medication should be taken exactly as prescribed. There are various side effects that one can experience when taking Vicodin. Those side effects might include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Upset stomach
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Ringing of the ears
  • Changes in mood

Mixing Vicodin with Alcohol and Other Drugs

Vicodin should not be used with alcohol because there can be an interaction. Usually, the medicine is prescribed to be taken every four to six hours as needed for pain. When it is taken with alcohol or other drugs, it might cause respiratory distress, slowing your breathing or making you drowsy.

Vicodin shouldn’t be taken with narcotics, sedatives, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, atropine, benztropine, glycopyrrolate, dimenhydrinate, scopolamine, bronchodilators, some irritable bowel medications, antidepressants, and some medications to treat urinary and bladder disorders.

There are several other brand names for the drug marketed under the Vicodin brand name. The generic version is hydrocodone/acetaminophen. Other brand names are Lortab, Norco, and Zohydro.

The Different Vicodin Doses

There are different doses of Vicodin available. Doctors prescribe the doses dependent on the patient, his or her condition, and how well they respond to the drug. Vicodin 5/300 contains hydrocodone bitartrate 5 mg and 300 mg acetaminophen. Vicodin ES contains 7.5 mg hydrocodone bitartrate and 300 mg acetaminophen and Vicodin HP contains 10 mg hydrocodone bitartrate and 300 mg acetaminophen.

Vicodin Side Effects 

Another important question that goes along with “what is Vicodin,” is what are the potential side effects of this prescription opioid. Vicodin can lead to various side effects. If you suffer from the signs of an allergic reaction, you should seek immediate medical care. Signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • Swelling of the throat, face, lips, or tongue
  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing

While it is very rare, acetaminophen can cause a skin reaction that could be fatal. This reaction can occur in people who have taken acetaminophen without a reaction in the past. If you experience redness of the skin or a rash that spreads with peeling and blistering, stop the medication and see your physician right away. If that is the case, never take a medication containing acetaminophen again. If you suffer from any of these side effects, call your physician:

  • Shallow breathing or noisy breathing
  • Weak pulse, slow heartbeat
  • Feeling faint, lightheaded
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Liver problems
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea, upper stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Unusual behavior or thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Sudden weakness
  • Feeling ill, fever, chills, unusual bleeding or bruising, sore throat

If you are experiencing the symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as sweating, fever, agitation, hallucinations, muscle stiffness, shivering, loss of coordination, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, twitching, fever, fast heart rate, or shivering, go to the nearest emergency room.

To sum up, what is Vicodin? Vicodin is a powerful combination opioid pain medication with serious side effect and a potential for addiction.


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