NFL quarterback Brett Favre said in a 2016 interview with Graham Bensinger on his syndicated sports talks show, which was later picked up by CBS Sports, that, at one point in his life, he was taking 15 Vicodin pills a day.
In the interview, he relays that one day, when he had four pills left and was trying to figure out where to get more, he knew he had hit rock bottom. He flushed the remaining four pills down the toilet and quit cold turkey, knowing full well that was not the way to stop taking Vicodin. He says he “shook every night, had cold sweats.”
It may seem OK to feel brave and stop taking Vicodin cold turkey, as Favre did. However, when someone stops taking opioids suddenly, he or she will begin to go through withdrawal very soon afterward.
Below, you will learn what Vicodin is, how addictive it can be, even when prescribed and taken appropriately, and what withdrawal will entail.
Vicodin is the brand name for a narcotic analgesic prescribed to alleviate moderate-to-severe pain. It contains a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone, which is a semi-synthetic opioid that affects the nervous system and blocks pain signals that are on their way to the brain. The risk of addiction is very high for Vicodin. It is prescribed more than any other pain medicine in the United States. It comes in either liquid or tablet form. Vicodin is less potent than Percocet.
RxList indicates Vicodin side effects include:
More serious symptoms of using Vicodin include fainting, confusion, fear, unusual thoughts or behavior, shallow breathing, slow heartbeat, convulsions (seizures), itching, upper stomach pain, appetite loss, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes).
If you experience any of the above serious symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Once Vicodin enters the bloodstream, it attaches to receptors in the brain that control pleasure and pain. The receptors change the release of neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Vicodin works to sedate and relieve pain.
When Vicodin is taken for an extended time, its stimuli continue to permeate the receptors. The body develops dependency and wants more of the drug. When an individual doesn’t get enough Vicodin in their body to satiate the pleasure and pain receptors, the body responds with withdrawal. Drugs like Vicodin, work to sedate and relieve pain.
Vicodin withdrawal symptoms can be felt by both short and long-term users, according to Healthline, which reports that the time it takes for symptoms to be felt will differ from person to person.
If someone takes Vicodin for more than a week and changes the amount of the drug taken, the person may experience withdrawal symptoms a day or two later. This is quite possible if the medication is stopped completely.
Although Vicodin withdrawal is not life-threatening, a doctor’s supervision is highly recommended to help the patient taper off the medication safely. It is never wise to abruptly stop taking a narcotic.
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The timeline of any opioid withdrawal, including Vicodin, depends on the person’s level of tolerance, genetics, how often it is taken, and the size of the last dose.
Most people start feeling withdrawal symptoms in the first six to 12 hours of the last dose.People who have been taking Vicodin on a short-term basis can expect to feel some or all of these symptoms within this time frame, as MedicalNewsToday reports.
These symptoms will become more severe throughout the next two to three days.
Many of the symptoms will peak around 72 hours after the last dose but will now include dehydration and intense cravings for the drug.
The most intense symptoms are usually felt 72 hours of the last dose and may last up to a week or more.
It is best to detox at an accredited addiction treatment center where health care and addiction professionals can help ease withdrawal symptoms, and help fight the cravings. Those who choose to do that will undergo medical detox, which is medically supervised.
A Month and Longer
After a month passes, most, if not all, physical symptoms should be over. Some people may continue to feel depressed, have anxiety, and experience mood swings for an extended time. This is called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). This could lead to relapse and a return to using Vicodin again.
Vicodin withdrawal can make someone feel terrible, which can make it a challenge to stay clean.
People who are abusing or addicted to Vicodin could likely feel severe symptoms, such as anxiety, cramps, diarrhea, and tremors. These physical ailments might produce dire feelings. NCBI at a substance abuse treatment facility or hospital can help ease the unpleasant process of withdrawal from Vicodin.
Desert View Recovery provides medical detox, and the next step, residential treat, at our sister facilities California Highland Addiction Treatment and California Highlands Vistas centers.
The residential programs provide the skills and tools needed to maintain sobriety. A personalized recovery plan, which usually includes group therapy, one-on-one counseling, educational lectures, and workshops, can bolster your resistance to relapse and help you start feeling good about yourself again.
After passing through residential treatment, which typically goes for 30, 60, or 90 days, the individual may go into what is called the partial hospitalization program (PHP) at Desert View Recovery. PHP is an intensive outpatient addiction treatment program where the individual lives off-site and comes to the center for 20 hours or more of addiction therapies. PHP is best for people who need medical checkups and/or psychological checkups.
Once through with PHP, the individual will progress to the intensive outpatient program (IOP). IOP involves fewer hours in therapy at the center while living at home. Afterward, the individual moves on to the different lower levels of outpatient care.
Through each step, experienced addiction specialists will guide and support you. You will never be alone when you struggle through Vicodin addiction withdrawal and treatment. Every step of the process is a step closer to avoiding relapse.
CBS Sports. Brett Favre says he used to take a month's worth of painkillers in two days.Brinson, W. July 30, 2016 from https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/brett-favre-says-he-used-to-take-a-months-worth-of-painkillers-in-two-days/
RxList. Vicodin. Vicodin Side Effects Center from https://www.rxlist.com/vicodin-side-effects-drug-center.htm
healthline. Symptoms of Vicodin Withdrawal. Roland, J., Risoldi Cochrane, Z. PharmD, MS, FASCP . January 8, 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/health/symptoms-vicodin-withdrawal
MedicalNewsToday.What to know about opiate withdrawal. How long does withdrawal last? A timeline. Dena Westphalen, D. PharmD, Sissons, B. September 2, 2019 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326223.php#timeline-of-withdrawal-effects
The National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64119/
Natural remedies for withdrawal from http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/expert.q.a/08/03/vicodin.withdrawal.shu/index.html