How Long Does Vicodin Detox Last?

Overview – What are the signs of abuse, effects, and withdrawal timeline for Vicodin?


  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting


  • Extreme sweating
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Muscle aches


  • Early symptoms 24-48 hours
  • Later symptoms 3-5 Days
  • 5-10 Days full detox, depression may follow

use and abuse Prescription Form for vicodinVicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opiate analgesic painkiller that can be addictive. This prescription medication is used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Many people take Vicodin to treat acute pain and do not become addicted to it; however, many people abuse this medication, leading to physical dependence and addiction.

Vicodin should only be used on a short-term basis. Using hydrocodone for an extended period of time increases the risk of becoming physically dependent on the drug; however, some people become dependent on hydrocodone and do not become addicted to it. Dependence occurs when the body requires the drug in order to function normally, while addiction is when a person repeatedly seeks out and uses a substance despite negative consequences. Most people who become addicted to hydrocodone are also dependent on the substance, and they will experience withdrawal when trying to stop use of the drug.

Effects of Vicodin Abuse

Vicodin can have many different effects on the brain and body. In addition to the intended effect of lessening pain, it can also cause various side effects, many of which can be unpleasant. Abusing Vicodin can exacerbate these side effects. If Vicodin is abused for an extended period of time, it can damage the brain and body. Some of the damage of drug abuse may be permanent.

Most short-term side effects of Vicodin are not dangerous and subside on their own. These may include:

  • Queasiness
  • Vomiting
  • Opioid-Induced Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Wooziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in mood
  • Hoarse throat
  • Problems with urination
  • Rash
  • Itching

If Vicodin is abused, these side effects can become more severe. The risk of more dangerous side effects increases if the drug is misused. Severe side effects of Vicodin include slow or irregular breathing and tightness in the chest.

Hydrocodone can depress breathing, and taking too much of this drug can lead to a lack of oxygen to the brain, which can be fatal. Overdose on Vicodin is one of the risks of abusing this drug. Symptoms of overdose include:

  • Change in pupil size
  • Slow or stopped breathing
  • Slow or stopped heartbeat
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Death

Over time, misuse of Vicodin can cause damage to internal organs, including the liver, kidneys, and heart. Abusing opiates also affects the structure and chemistry of the brain, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). These changes within the brain can contribute to addiction, and they can make it extremely difficult to recover from addiction. Some of the damage to the brain can be reversed once drug use is stopped, but some changes may be permanent or long-lasting.

Vicodin Detox and Withdrawal

Vicodin Detox and Withdrawal TimelineDetoxification, also called detox, is the process by which the body rids itself of addictive substances like drugs and alcohol. The addiction recovery process typically begins with detox. Extensive use of opiates like the hydrocodone in Vicodin often leads to physical dependence, and withdrawal occurs as the body attempts to reset itself as the drug is processed. Withdrawal from opiates can be very difficult and unpleasant, but it is not usually dangerous.

Early symptoms of opiate withdrawal include:

  • Nervousness
  • Apprehension
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Excessive sweating
  • Yawning

As withdrawal progresses, other symptoms may appear, including:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Intestinal issues
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Chills

Withdrawal symptoms typically appear a day or two after the last Vicodin use. Acute symptoms of withdrawal can last several days, sometimes even as long as a few weeks. Sometimes, withdrawal leads to changes in mood and anxiety levels. These psychological symptoms can last longer than physical symptoms of withdrawal, sometimes lasting weeks or even months.

Detox programs are meant to assist people in completing the detox process, managing acute symptoms of withdrawal and providing support through the entire process. Detox typically lasts from 5-10 days; however, the timeline will vary according to each individual. Successfully completing a detox program has been shown to increase the amount of time before relapse, as compared to those who drop out of detox, according to a study published by Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience.

Methods of Detox

Methods of Detox from alcoholDetox from opiate drugs is often managed with medication. Several different types of medication can be used in the detox process. The most common method of medical detox uses opioid agonists – drugs that mimic the effects of opiate drugs – to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Opioid antagonists, which block opiate effects, can also be used. Other medications, such as clonidine, address symptoms of withdrawal like high blood pressure.

methadoneMethadone is the most commonly used medication in opiate detox. Methadone is a full opioid agonist, meaning it fully activates the opioid receptors within the brain. Because of this, methadone itself can be addictive, and it is carefully controlled in order to avoid abuse.

BuprenorphineBuprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which limits its abuse potential. An opioid antagonist, naloxone,
is sometimes added to buprenorphine. When naloxone is added to buprenorphine, increased doses of themedication do not increase its effects, which helps to prevent abuse of the drug. Opioid agonists are used in detox by replacing the drug of abuse with an equivalent dosage of the medication. Dosages of the medication are then decreased slowly over time. Using a tapering approach helps to limit symptoms of withdrawal and can
lessen cravings during the detox process and beyond.

Some methods of rapid detoxification have been developed that promise to shorten the detox process to 2-3 days. According to Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, high doses of clonidine and benzodiazepines are sometimes given before detox is triggered using naltrexone, an opioid antagonist. The clonidine and benzodiazepines help to manage symptoms of withdrawal, while the naltrexone quickens the detox process. Another method of rapid detox involves being placed under anesthesia before naltrexone is administered. While these methods may shorten the time in which detox occurs, they do not appear to increase rates of long-term success in maintaining sobriety, as compared to traditional methods of detox. In addition, rapid detox or ultra-rapid detox can result in life-threatening complications, up to and including death.

Next Steps

Detox is only the first step in recovering from an addiction to Vicodin. Additional treatment is needed in order for lasting sobriety to be achieved. Medications used in the withdrawal process are sometimes continued throughout the treatment process, which can help to prevent relapse. The most effective treatment methods typically incorporate both medication and behavioral therapy.

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