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Vicodin: Addiction, Withdrawal, and Treatment

handsome man in early thirties extremely uncomfortable - Vicodin withdrawals

Vicodin is a central nervous system depressant. It is a combination of hydrocodone, a narcotic, and acetaminophen (Tylenol), a non-steroidal, non-narcotic pain reliever. It is a prescription medication used to treat moderate pain. The drug is also available in generic form called hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen. A synthetic opioid, Vicodin is classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Schedule II drug. Drugs in this classification are considered highly addictive. They have a dangerous potential for abuse that could lead to severe physical or psychological dependence.

Common Street Names

Vicodin pills are generally white and oval in shape. However, depending on the brand of the drug, sometimes they can be light yellow or very light blue. The pills can be crushed into powder. Bananas, Idiot pills, Fluff, Vikes, Vics, Tabs, Watson-387, Dro, and Scratch are common slang or street names for the drug.

How Does Vicodin Work?

When a person takes Vicodin, it works on their brain and central nervous system. It binds to opiate receptors in the spinal cord, brain, and other locations throughout the body. The drug mimics the way naturally produced pain-relieving chemicals affect the brain. In response, the brain changes the way it responds to pain and blocks the perception of it. In addition to providing pain relief, the drug also produces feelings of euphoria, contentment, relaxation, and an overall sense of well-being.


It is the pleasurable effects of Vicodin that lead some people to abuse it. Many people use the drug as prescribed. But once the pain has subsided, they continue to take the medication. They want to feel the sense of relaxation, euphoria, and well-being the drug provides. Some may even lie to their doctor about their pain level to obtain more of the drug. Before long, a tolerance to the drug will develop. Once this happens, the person will need to take more of the drug to achieve the high feeling they want. Their brain and body become dependent on the drug, and addiction soon follows.


Vicodin withdrawal occurs when a person suddenly stops taking the drug or drastically reduces the amount they take. Anyone can experience withdrawal, even those people who took the medication exactly as prescribed by their doctor. It typically occurs in those that took Vicodin for several weeks or more. Naturally, the symptoms and severity of withdrawal will vary from person to person depending on the strength of Vicodin they were taking, the length of time they used it, and how often they took it.

Additional factors to consider include:

  • Age
  • Current mental and physical health
  • Previous drug use and withdrawal
  • Whether Vicodin was taken with other drugs or alcohol

As the brain struggles to regain its natural balance without Vicodin, the body reacts as it tries to adapt to the sudden absence of the drug. The symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal can range from mild cold and flu-type symptoms to more severe symptoms, which may include chills, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Bone pain, excessive sweating, and tremors often occur. Emotionally, the person may experience mood swings, sadness, restlessness, anxiety, agitation, and irritability.

Vicodin Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Once the acute withdrawal is over, some people continue to experience certain Vicodin withdrawal symptoms, called post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. This syndrome is also known as protracted abstinence or protracted withdrawal. It may last weeks, months, and sometimes years. One of the biggest concerns of PAWS is the potential for relapse.

Symptoms of PAWS include:
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping problems
  • Dysphoria (dulled emotions)
Help Is Available

If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, help is available. You are not alone. At Canyon Vista Recovery Center, located in Mesa, Arizona, our team of caring professionals will guide you through your recovery process. Using a combination of clinical, medical, psychiatric, and holistic approaches, we will provide you with the skills and tools you need to live a sober life. Now is the time to take the first step. Call us today.

Looking for drug treatment facilities near Scottsdale, AZ? Learn more about programs offered at Canyon Vista Recovery Center. Contact us at (888) 979-1840

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