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Short and Long-Term Vicodin Effects to Be Aware Of

Vicodin is a prescription pain reliever that combines acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Each of these drugs can interact with your body differently. Acetaminophen works well at relieving some pain, but it also can be a liver toxin when taken at high levels. Hydrocodone is also great at relieving pain, but it can slow down your brain’s activity and central nervous system.

Opioids like hydrocodone can be quite addictive, which makes Vicodin a Schedule II narcotic.  Though they are prescribed to help minimize pain, some people misuse or abuse the drug to experience a euphoric or deeply relaxed feeling. Even if you’re taking Vicodin as prescribed, you run the risk of your body becoming dependent or addicted to it. For this reason, it’s important to learn more about its short and long-term effects.

Short-Term Effects of Vicodin

Many people take prescription drugs to help relieve pain. After all, being in pain is no fun at all. However, many painkillers can be quite addictive, including Vicodin. Before choosing to use Vicodin, it can help to learn more about the short and long-term effects of the drug.  

You may feel a series of effects when you take Vicodin. These can vary from person to person and in intensity depending on the strength of the dose.  The stronger the dose, the more of an effect you may feel. Essentially, you may experience:

  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced amount of physical pain
  • Feeling of deep calmness
  • Lethargy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Brain fog
  • Urination difficulty
  • A euphoric feeling
  • Slower heart rate
  • Anxiety

Long-Term Effects of Vicodin

Some people who use Vicodin long-term struggle with chronic pain. They need this medication to help minimize the physical pain they go through. Others may have become dependent or addicted to Vicodin for the euphoric or deeply relaxed feeling they get.

If you’ve been using Vicodin for a long time, there are various effects it can have on you. Your body can build a tolerance to the drug, which means you’ll need more of it to feel the same effects. Whereas this month you may need one pill a day, a month from now you may feel as if you need two or three pills a day because you’re not getting the same effect due to increased tolerance.Physically, the drug affects the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system.  Due to a reduced heart rate when using Vicodin, your breathing can become shallow. This can ultimately adversely affect the organs. Some physical effects of Vicodin use are listed below.

Physical Long-Term Effects

  • Feeling pain that isn’t really there (pain perception)
  • Increased anxiety
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Mood swings
  • Memory issues
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Lack of stress management
  • Constipation
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Illness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Brain changes
  • Isolating from others
  • Not contending with emotional pain, but numbing it instead

Mental Long-Term Effects of Vicodin

The longer you’re on Vicodin, the more likely you’ll experience some negative mental effects.  A very common effect is becoming psychologically addicted to Vicodin. Whether you’re dealing with chronic pain or not, you can become dependent on pills to feel a certain way.  Taking that pill may make you feel happier or more confident. Or, it might help you relax or numb out. The thought of not having more pills to take can make you feel anxious, wondering how you’ll be able to face your days without more Vicodin.

Other mental long-term effects include:

  • Apathy
  • Struggling with relationships due to an inability to be fully present
  • Going from anxiety to depression
  • Feeling hopelessly addicted to a drug
  • Struggling with low-self esteem because of drug, alcohol use

These long-term psychological and physical effects can take a toll on you.  You can become depressed, anxious, moody, or experience health problems. This is exactly why you should seek medical or professional help if you have become dependent on Vicodin and can’t stop using it.

Using Vicodin When You Know You Shouldn’t

If you’ve become addicted to Vicodin, you’re apt to keep taking the drug even though you know you shouldn’t. Perhaps you’ve had a family member or friend to talk with you about your attitude or behavior lately.  Maybe you’ve been withdrawing from people, or you’re moody all the time. Or, you may engage in some of the following behaviors or find yourself in these situations:

  • Stealing other people’s pain pills
  • Doctor shopping to get more prescriptions
  • Taking more Vicodin than you should
  • Lying about your drug use
  • Buying Vicodin on the streets
  • Losing a relationship due to drug use
  • Doing things you thought you’d never do to get more drugs
  • Slacking on your performance at school, home, or work
  • Financial problems due to buying drugs
  • Driving under the influence of heavy doses of Vicodin

If you’re resorting to such behaviors, know that help is available to help you address your Vicodin addiction.

Vicodin Withdrawal

If you’ve become dependent on Vicodin, it’s likely that you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when you decide to stop using the drug.  Note that you should seek medical help when you decide to detox from Vicodin, as a tapering schedule is the safest way to detox from opioids. You should never try to quit Vicodin cold turkey, as it can pose serious problems.

Typically, you may begin to experience some withdrawal symptoms as early as six hours after the last dose. However, this may vary depending on how much your dosage is and how frequently you take the drug.  It can also vary depending on the method of ingestion, such as whether it was taken in pill form, inhaled, or injected.

Common withdrawal effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Cold sweats
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Body aches
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite loss
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Shaking

Reversing the Effects of Vicodin

Whether you’ve been using Vicodin for a short or long time, there is help to address your addiction. When you undergo a safe detox under the supervision of a detox center or residential rehab, you can continue treatment with addiction specialists who will help you to recover.  It’s likely that if you’ve been addicted to Vicodin for a while, you’ve struggled with some of the effects mentioned here. Rest assured that there are professionals who can help you reverse many, if not all of those effects.

Getting to the root of an addiction will take some time and effort.  Seeking help from a therapist and support groups can help significantly.  If you’ve lost relationships, jobs, money, and some dignity, these are all areas that you can improve upon with the help of a solid support network. If you’ve struggled with some health issues, there may be things you can do to recover your health – especially if you work with a nutritionist or physician.

So, whether you’ve been using Vicodin for just a short time, or you’ve been using it for a while now, know that you can address your addiction properly and go on to create the kind of life you truly desire.

Treating a Drug Overdose

While we’re on the topic of Vicodin addiction, if you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to this opioid, be aware that there is a risk of overdosing on it. Taking more of the drug than the body can handle can put it into an emergency or crisis state, and this can lead to death. This is a good reason to seek help immediately if you’ve become addicted to the drug.

In the case of an overdose, a medication called naloxone can reverse the effects. This medication essentially blocks the drug’s effects on the body, reversing the serious effects.  Some states allow people to carry naloxone if they or a loved one struggle with an addiction to an opioid.

Reach Out for Help Today

Are you or a loved one struggling with Vicodin addiction? If so, know that you’re not alone and that you don’t have to contend with this by yourself. We’re dedicated to helping people end their drug addiction, and we do so in a safe and professional environment.
Give us a call today at 855-534-3574 so that we can discuss with you the best treatment options for getting free and getting your life back.  If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them. Take that first step toward freedom today. You’ll be glad you did.


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healthline. (2019, January 8) Symptoms of Vicodin Withdrawal. Roland, J., Risoldi Cochrane, Z., PharmD., MS, FASCP. Retrieved from

Very Well Health. Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen: What You Need To Know. Retrieved from

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