Vicodin Withdrawal – Dealing With Symptoms and Using Triggers

Art Coburn, Drug Addiction Therapy Guy, on Vicodin relapse and using triggers during withdrawal.

Vicodin withdrawal — understanding how to deal with symptoms and using triggers can help.

The following is a guest post by Art Coburn, founder of the Drug Addiction Therapy Guy website. Art is a recovering addict and his goal is to “help others and let them know that they too can get clean and sober.”  He can be reached at art.coburn@gmail.com.

Dealing With Symptoms and Using Triggers During Vicodin Withdrawal by Art Coburn

What is Vicodin? The medication is actually a mixture of hydrocodone and acetaminophen which is found in common Tylenol. Like heroin or morphine, vicodin gives people a sensation or high that is characterized by euphoric feelings.

Vicodin withdrawal is very common in society today. The fact that people do not think twice about taking prescription painkillers is one common reason why so many people develop an addiction. They assume that just because the medication was prescribed by a physician it is safe.

Many drugs that doctors prescribe to patients are addictive, and this medication is one of the most dangerous and habit-forming substances available by prescription.  This prescription medication   is known for effectively relieving pain caused by illnesses and injuries. However, the substance is also used as a party drug for people who prefer to get high on drugs.

What happens is many times these party goers use it every day because this is their lifestyle by doing this it opens the door for vicodin addiction.

When it comes to withdrawal, one of the first you should know is that most people do not understand how they can become addicted to this drug which their doctor prescribed for them; furthermore, they know little to nothing about how to get through withdrawal.

If you have become addicted to this drug you should know that it poses a tough withdrawal process with harsh symptoms. The body has become chemically dependent on the drug and once the addict stops abruptly, the body goes into a form of shock. The ideal way to treat the withdrawal would be in an opiate rehab.

How long does it take to withdraw from Vicodin?

Withdrawal from vicodin can begin anywhere between six to twelve hours after the last dose; furthermore this is when the body to begins to adjust, and in the meantime, the addict will experience a variety of very unpleasant symptoms, such as headaches, diarrhea, insomnia, muscle spasms, chills, goose bumps, and much, much more. This can go on for anywhere from 3 to 5 days.

Withdrawal symptoms and the severity of pain one may experience

Also, the severity of the withdrawal symptoms may vary upon a person’s body type and the severity of their addiction; for example, an addict who has been abusing vicodin every day for years will more than likely experience a more severe withdrawal than someone who has only been using them for a couple months or so. In other words if you are used to a high levels of vicodin your withdrawal symptoms will be much worse.

Now for those of you who can not afford to go to rehab or simply do not want to for whatever reason it is possible to stop at home without using anything other than over the counter medications to ease the pain of withdrawal. After the body has adjusted to the lack of the drug, the withdrawal symptoms can still feel prolonged and intense and for this reason, it is often best to try and wean off of the drug. Yet, that can be hard for an addict with a diminished sense of self control so I would suggest giving your medication to a trusted family member or friend to dole out to you. In any case it is advised that you speak with your prescribing physician before you attempt this.

Tips to weaning or tapering off of Vicodin

For most of you the weaning process is best is done under the supervision of a doctor or addiction specialists. This is also why rehab clinics are such a valuable service.

Doing detox all by yourself or trying to taper down is not recommended because:

1) It is almost impossible for an addict to know just the right amount of opiate to take in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms without over-medicating.

2) We need the support of other people going through the same detox process in order to stay strong against the threat of relapse.

3) We need a medically supervised environment to guard against physical withdrawal complications such as dehydration.

Once a person has successfully gone through withdrawal, they still need to guard against possible relapse. This would include removing themselves from old social circles and reducing the possibility of coming into contact with the drug.

This becomes more of a psychological aspect of addiction, and there are plenty of specialized 12 step programs like narcotics anonymous that can aid an addict towards recovery.

Good luck and feel free to email me with any questions at art.coburn@gmail.com.

35 Responses to Vicodin Withdrawal – Dealing With Symptoms and Using Triggers

  1. Hi Art,

    Thanks for sharing this important information on Vicodin. So many of the prescription drugs, as well as heavy alcohol use are very dangerous to detox on your own. It can’t be emphasized enough to have a medically supervised environment for detox. Take care.

  2. Art Coburn says:

    @ Cathy Taughinbaugh

    Thank you for your comment. I do think its very important to give others information about how they can get the proper medical help they need to overcome prescription drug addiction or any other drug or alcohol problem for that matter. A lot of people are not aware of whats involved with detox or how to get help.

  3. Patrick says:

    Nice post about the process of getting off Vicodins. Opiates are real tough and when I worked in a rehab for 4 years+ as a detox nurse aid I learned a lot. Sometimes the people who were detoxing from opiate medications were having a rougher time than the people coming off of heroin!

    That was when I realized just how powerful prescription drug addiction could really be. Same thing with the Methadone, a lot of addicts told me that this was a much worse withdrawal than heroin ever was.

    Thanks again for the post and thank you Cathy for a great website.

    • Thanks for your comment, Patrick. I look forward to running your article next week: “What If I Relapse After Addiction Treatment and How Can I Prevent This?” You have a terrific website and one I’ve been following for sometime. I encourage BTC readers to do the same, http://www.spiritualrivere.com. Take care, Lisa

  4. Art Coburn says:

    Hi Patrick thanks for sharing your experience

    I know what you said about people who are coming off of opiates had a much harder time than some who were detoxing from heroin I think that you are right on target with this.

    I have have also seen people struggle with heroin and prescription opiate addiction; furthermore, also with my many years in recovery and my personal struggle with opiate abuse before I got clean and sober so to me they are both difficult to detox from.

  5. Mike Vang says:

    I’m 18 and a half and been taking Vicodin for almost 4 years now. It sucks really bad. :/ Chronic back pains doesn’t led to natural death. The way I manage to get off from withdrawals is to have somebody close to you, like my wife. Tell me what to do. It worked 100% cause i listened to her and didn’t bribe for more. It’s not hard to get off from it. I can say that on my 5th attempt i finnaly got off. My first attempt, i over exxgera

  6. Art says:

    Hi Mike

    Thanks for sharing with us and congratulations for making the decision to stop using and following through with it because I know its not easy. Yes, as you said you have your wife to help you when you are going through withdrawal I know that its nice to have someone in your corner when you are going through this . Keep up the good work!

    Good luck

  7. Karen says:

    I have been struggling for going on 2 years now with either tylenol 3, vicodin, or tramadol that my doctor finally thought would be a “lesser” opiate and was DUMB! It made me soooo sick! I’m SO tired of going back and forth between these damn drugs trying to make myself feel human and I know I never will this way! I can’t afford rehab and have a 10 year old. Scared EVERY day that I am going to run out or how to get them.

    • I’m so sorry to hear what you are going through, Karen. The very fact that you are so concerned and looking for help is a good sign!!!

      I thought the post I put up, today, may help you – http://www.breakingthecycles.com/blog/2012/12/29/costs-of-addiction-treatment-how-to-recover-drug-addiction-alcohlism-if-cant-afford/.
      In it, I try to break down into doable steps how to find and succeed in addiction treatment and recovery – including taking advantage of programs that do not cost anything – as follows:

      Understand the disease of addiction (whether to illegal or prescription drugs or to alcohol).
      Understand that we are healing a brain disease, and as with other disease treatments, there is no “one-size fits all.”
      Appreciate that it does take time, but there is much joy to be had in the moments of every day along the way.
      Understand that Addiction is a Family Disease.

      Feel free to contact me off line via email at lisaf@BreakingTheCycles.com or via phone at 650-362-3026.

    • Art says:

      Hi Karen

      It sounds like you really want to stop using and you also say that you can not afford rehab. Have you ever considered going to a 12 step meeting like NA? The good news is that they are free. You also mentioned that you worry a lot about running out of drugs.

      I used to be the same way I was terrified of running out. Then one day I heard a person share at a meeting that once we quit using and get clean and sober we never have to worry about running out again.

      Good luck

      • Karen says:

        Going on my third day of withdrawl, which meant my whole holiday with my family was gone. STILL feel worse than ever. Mood swings are ridiculous! And it comes and goes so much I don’t know if it’s almost over or beginning again! I have tried to get drugs, but I can’t now, as they are not answering(which I’ve dealt with so many times before) I appreciate your advice; everyone around me wants to just disappear. My boyfriend has been it seems the most caring and I have pushed him away and screamed at him the most. He continues to use weed and it makes me SO angry that he can and I can’t use what I want. Thanks for listening

  8. Matt says:

    I have been abusing this stuff for 2 years now and have tried to quit periodically. As it is documented by a number of physicians, users, etc, my withdrawal symptoms are all similar. However, I have at least been able to narrow down my own personal reason for excessive use. I am relieved that I can admit, it is no longer to get high at least. The number one reason, is the severe stomach cramping and excessive running to the bathroom. Both of these hinder my job and school work. The depression and other symptoms do occur, but it literally is the stomach issues that when I am enduring them, consciously cause me to seek more pills, especially when I am at work or sitting in the classroom. If I had the financial ability, I would seek rehab, but I have no health insurance, and by receiving financial aide for school, and working full time, there is just no time or availability. I take Peptobismol, which rarely stops the bathroom runs, but NEVER stops the cramping. I am already depressed with my risk of school being affected (I am actually obtaining a 3.85 in a Master’s Program WHILE abusing), but even that I am able to control my depression, anxiety, mental cravings, etc. I can not call into work anymore, and that too, I would at least be able to endure, if I had just something for all of this stomach pain. Thank you for allowing me to vent and good luck to everyone on here.

    • Art says:

      Hi Matt

      Thanks for sharing with us. Sometimes it is good to just vent . Do you have anyone you can share with about your problems? Talking with another person is always good it kind of lightens the load so to speak. Now as far as your physical symptoms its just going to take time to get through them but they will pass but if you continue taking pain pills it will be just be that much longer and things will get worse. As far as the depression goes exercise or long walks can help with this. You may want to go to the doctor because they can probably prescribe you something that will work far better than Peptobismol. The thing is you need to be entirely honest with them and tell them “exactly” whats going on with you in order for them to help you.

      Good luck

    • fellowaddict says:

      Imodium…it will stop the bathroom runs smd help with the stomach cramps. It won’t really do much for the nausea.
      You will need to take more than what is directed on the package you already have a tolerance to opiates and Imodium is like an opiate that does not cross the blood brain barrier. You just lessen the amount of Imodium you take a lil less every day.v
      You can google more on Imodium and opiate withdrawal to learn more.
      Imodium is an essential otc med for a do it yourself opiate withdrawal!

  9. Wendy says:

    Hi,

    I’ve been taking Vicodin reg and ES since 1995 for various pain related reasons. But, have never taken a whole one and usually 1/2 a pill 3 to 4 times a day. I noticed I get
    totally insanely pissed off if I even take 1/2 ES, omg! I think they change the way you
    hear things, (like louder) and can either give me loads of energy or make me agitated
    then really enraged. Sigh, anyway, talk about mood swings! Now, this is when I take
    them, lol! I got so crazy this getting pissed, which I can do w/o Vicodin that I realized
    even the reg. strength was pissing me off w/in 20 mins of taking it so… I said enough!
    Omg, it’s ruining my ability to interact w/o going off and really breaking things, etc. Well, I’m itching now, ok, so I now take no ES and have gone down to 1/2 at 11:30pm
    and then pass out tired, wake up and take another 1/2 like 2:30am. Then back to sleep. Don’t take any again until 11:30pm next nite and so on. I don’t feel pissed off anymore and agitated nearly as much. I’m very constipated tho, omg! I take 1 a day now and I’m constipated, idk why. Would seem it’d be the other way around! Also, I want to tell you all I did this on my own as no one else I know takes them. BF’s just wonder what the hell the w/drawals are all about. Anyway, this is my gift to you… I could NOT have gotten down so fast w/o the use of a hormone prescribe by my specialist here in LA. It’s called Pregnenolone CRT 30mg. I take only a 3rd 2x a day time released. It adjusts and balances your hormone levels and wouldn’t you know it
    dopamine which is what the w/d are all about, getting your body to back to producing it’s own. Neuro transmitter issues and the dopamine have been replaced by the Vicodin. This can be purchased online too, and the best natural Preg is by designs for health company. I need help now from you… I need to get to 1/2 a day, but idk when and what’s with the insane constipation? Lmk Thank you so much.
    Wendy
    paigemonroe@aol.com

  10. Wendy says:

    Hi,

    I’ve been taking Vicodin reg and ES since 1995 for various pain related reasons. But, have never taken a whole one and usually 1/2 a pill 3 to 4 times a day. I noticed I get
    totally insanely pissed off if I even take 1/2 ES, omg! I think they change the way you
    hear things, (like louder) and can either give me loads of energy or make me agitated
    then really enraged. Sigh, anyway, talk about mood swings! Now, this is when I take
    them, lol! I got so crazy this getting pissed, which I can do w/o Vicodin that I realized
    even the reg. strength was pissing me off w/in 20 mins of taking it so… I said enough!
    Omg, it’s ruining my ability to interact w/o going off and really breaking things, etc. Well, I’m itching now, ok, so I now take no ES and have gone down to 1/2 at 11:30pm
    and then pass out tired, wake up and take another 1/2 like 2:30am. Then back to sleep. Don’t take any again until 11:30pm next nite and so on. I don’t feel pissed off anymore and agitated nearly as much. I’m very constipated tho, omg! I take 1 a day now and I’m constipated, idk why. Would seem it’d be the other way around! Also, I want to tell you all I did this on my own as no one else I know takes them. BF’s just wonder what the hell the w/drawals are all about. Anyway, this is my gift to you… I could NOT have gotten down so fast w/o the use of a hormone prescribe by my specialist here in LA. It’s called Pregnenolone CRT 30mg. I take only a 3rd 2x a day time released. It adjusts and balances your hormone levels and wouldn’t you know it
    dopamine which is what the w/d are all about, getting your body to back to producing it’s own. Neuro transmitter issues and the dopamine have been replaced by the Vicodin. This can be purchased online too, and the best natural Preg is by designs for health company. I need help now from you… I need to get to 1/2 a day, but idk when and what’s with the insane constipation? Lmk Thank you so much.
    Wendy

    • Art says:

      Hi Wendy

      Thanks a lot for sharing with everyone how you are reacting to vicodin. First of all I have to let you know that prescription medications can effect everyone differently and it sounds like they could be effecting you adversely being that I am not a doctor so I would strongly suggest that you speak with yours because a half of a vicodin is a very low dose to be affected as you are.

      Now as far as your constipation goes Vicodin is an opiate drug and constipation can be one of the side effects of all opiate drugs. A lot of people that take opiate medications also take a laxative to help with this. Once again I would speak to your Dr. and let them know exactly how your medication is affecting you. I am sure that they can help and it may be as simple as changing your medication.

      Good luck

      • Wendy says:

        OMG, you are fucking insane! What the hell do you know about
        any of this? Nothing I can’t figure out myself, Christ. Yeah,
        I will see my doctor u stupid fuck, what you can’t see is I can do
        this on my own and just wanted some feedback. Moron!

  11. Wendy says:

    You say you’re no expert and that you HELP ppl recover? LOL, obvious how silly this site is. Omg, must be for your OWN support… constipation-take a laxative, lol! Ya, will do. I’m down to a pill a day because I’ve been w/drawing for 8 months to get here you stupid mother fucker! I don’t need you to tell me to call my god damn doctor! OMG ur asshole! WTF?

  12. Art says:

    @ Wendy – Hey there Wendy, obviously you are hurting and I genuinely want to help you.

    You say you are down to one pill a day–do you have a taper schedule to ween yourself off that? No offense, but guess who has good information about safe, effective, and relatively painless taper schedules–that’s right, doctors. That was my reason for suggesting you contact one. In the meantime, perhaps these two links to information provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) may help:
    http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications
    http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/opioids
    or this one by Michael Bihari, MD, “How Can I Withdraw From Vicodin,” http://drugs.about.com/od/faqsaboutyourdrugs/f/vicodin_FAQ.htm

    I hope this additional information can help, but please know that if you continue with abusive and profane language, then the site administrator has to delete it at some point. I wish you all the best.

  13. a loving girlfriend says:

    I’m trying to help my boyfriend cope with quitting and it is very hard to deal with. It has cause me to miss work, caused a lot of stress, emotionally draining..is there anything I can do to help with this or do I just let him do his own thing? I would love if he went to rehab but he doesn’t want to lose his job and we have a son together he doesn’t want to be away from him I try to tell him I’m here for him and get him to go out and do things but he just wants to sit home and mope he is having very bad withdraws, his whole body is restless I have tryed massages with him and he seems to like it but the passion comes right back when I’m finished..please help.
    -a loving girlfriend

  14. Art says:

    Hi there

    About the only thing that is going to help him if he refuses to go to rehab is to just hang in there and tough it out as long as he does not use the withdrawals will pass. In most cases the withdrawals will pass in few days but unfortunately when they do if he does not do something different then it has been my experience that most people will return to active addiction.

    Keep in mind that they do allow family members to visit patients while they are in rehab so its not like he will unable to see his son.

    A lot of employers understand enough about addiction these days to know that sometimes a person needs to go to rehab and are very willing to allow this, maybe he could speak with them about going to rehab. Another option for him that I personally use is attending NA meetings anyway this is what helps me to stay clean and sober

    Good luck

  15. Chris says:

    I have been taking vicoden since 2008, usually averaging 2-4 10 mg pills a day. I quit back in 4/12 for about 4 months but then injured my knee and had knee surgery and have been back on about the same amount.I just recently tappered down to 2, then 1 and then zero day and now the restless leg symptoms and insomnia are coming back. This was uncomfortable the last time but I followed the Thomas recipe. I am hoping that I will not have to go to health store and purchase all that again(some i still have) as this is expensive. Warm baths helped alot, talking to wife, reminding myself that I am proud to be getting free of these little flippin’ pills who have so much control over my life. I do not want to rely on a pill to make me feel good. So, here I go again…hope I can sleep! This site is helpful..thanks

  16. Art says:

    Hi Chris

    Thanks a lot for sharing experience with us. I am really glad that you have made the decision to stop using. It sounds like you are well on your way and getting clean and sober is defiantly something to be proud of so keep up the good work. If warm baths help then continue to take them as often as you need. I believe that they will help with your restless leg symptoms. Another good thing you have going for you is that you have your wife for support, sometimes just knowing that we are loved makes all the difference in the world.

    I would try to keep as busy as you can because this will help take your mind off of your withdrawal and with any luck may help you sleep. If you have some type of hobby then you may want to try doing that to keep busy. I used to work puzzles when I first stopped using and it really helped to occupy my mind another thing that may help is to find a good book to read or maybe a medication CD. Books are great way to escape and meditation can be very relaxing. There are all kinds of things that you can do so just put your mind to it and I am sure you can come up with some good ideas. Hang in there and I hope everything works out well for you.

    Good luck

  17. Jim Morrison says:

    The truth of anyone of you getting off these drugs are only within you! When you find it these cravings go away empower yourself. Everyone is different let no one tell you indifferent. This is coming from a person who took 20 to 3o Norcos 10 mg a day. So find you make no excuses or you will keep hiding looking for excuses to keep using. You only live once life it with clarity and dazed and confused. Good luck

  18. Nicole says:

    I was just searching around the web and found this site. I am 22 years old now and I have had 11 surgerys on my feet starting when I was 10. I go through a tramendous amount of pain a day and have been taking vicodin longer than I can even remember. I have gone through withdrawls many times…but because of my pain I always go back to them. I want to get off them completely. I couldn’t get my prescription I finished them to quickly my tolorance has really built up. I didn’t take any for 5 days and today I took 1 of the 10 mg. if I were to have my friend help me nd b a strong willed person after these last withdrawls only taking 1 to 3 10 mgs a day then slowly eliminating them……would this be the right way to handle it. Im tired of this and I just want to not need them anymore!!!!

  19. Sydney says:

    Hello,
    I was on vicodin for 2 years, only taking 1/2 at a time the most i would take was 4 a day. I started taking them for pain from my back, but then i got addicted relizing it was giving me energy, which i have always lacked. I am currently 3 weeks clean today, and ive got to tell you its not any easier. Im lacking energy way more than expected at this point, and at the point of i just want the energy back so i min-as-well start takin them again. I thought after 3 weeks i would not be craving that crap. Im not sure if depression has set in, or if it hormones, or mental. For all of you out there that are going through w/d from an opiate, everyday is a struggle and some are worse than others, but we can do this. Ive been addicted to something since the age of 14, now 27 and im not sure how to live a sober life. Some support would be nice during this time, and how do i gain energy? Thanks
    Sydney recently posted…Face of Recovery | Gavin DeFreeseMy Profile

  20. Dawn says:

    Hi Art. Today is day 1 for me and its very hard. I have been on vicodin for over 7 years. I had a lot of surgery’s. I am trying to do this on my own. It got to the point where I was buying them off the street. Please pray for me to get through this.

  21. Art says:

    Hi Dawn

    Good for you 1 day clean is a long time after taking them for 7 years and buying them off the street is not a good idea. I would suggest you look into finding some type of support or maybe even going to rehab.

    Good luck

    • Dawn says:

      Can’t afford rehab. This is day 2 of not having any. I will get through this. I just keep telling myself this to shall pass. I have my brother helping me. So far so good.

  22. Nat says:

    Thank you for this post . I am on day 3 detoxing from 6yrs of heavy vicodin use . The withdraws suck right now the stomach cramps , insomnia , chills are all in effect . I’m attending a local 12 step program that has inspired me and fills me with hope every time I show up to a meeting . There are many like us. It’s tough now , I keep telling myself this to shall pass . Good luck to everyone !!! We can do this .

  23. Julie says:

    This is day 3 for me, and I feel just absolutely terrible. I am a nurse and mother of 2. I have never had an addiction problem in my life. However, I have had 7 jaw surgeries within the past year and a half for severe tmj, most recently on feb 17, only a week ago, and by far the hardest yet. I had a total joint replacement and reconstruction. I came home from the hospital Wednesday and have been home for 4 days now. I am in a great deal of pain, and was prescribed Percocet upon discharge. However, that along with the antibiotic was too much for my stomach to tolerate. I tried taking my Viciprofen instead, though I knew it would not help as much as I’ve been taking 4 7.5 mg tablets daily for about a year. I was not even able to keep that down. Now I’m dealing with the pain AND withdrawal symptoms. I have a constant low grade fever, dizziness, nausea, acid reflux, vomiting, and last night I did not sleep at all though I’m exhausted. I’m not really sure how to control the symptoms, mostly the nausea and sleeplessness. How long do they usually last? I never thought this would be me.

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