Signs & Symptoms of Vicodin Addiction

The signs, symptoms, and effects of Vicodin addiction can be different for every person impacted. Learning about Vicodin addiction is one of the first steps towards getting better.

Understanding Vicodin Addiction

Learn about Vicodin and substance abuse

Vicodin is a prescription medication that is primarily used to alleviate moderate to severe pain. Vicodin is composed of two substances, hydrocodone (a synthetic opioid) and acetaminophen (which is also sometimes referred to as paracetamol). As is the case with other opioids or substances that contain opioids, Vicodin is a powerful substance that can lead to abuse and dependence.

Vicodin’s analgesic effects result from the way that the drug interacts with the central nervous system. In addition to easing pain, Vicodin can also induce a sense of euphoria, relaxation, and contentment. These effects make Vicodin an enticing substance for individuals who are in search of an illicit recreational high. Vicodin’s propensity for being abused is increased by the fact that the drug is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States, meaning that it is relatively easy to acquire.

Vicodin abuse and dependence can result from legitimate medical use, illicit self-medication, or recreational abuse. Regardless of an individual’s reasons for abusing this medication, overcoming Vicodin use disorder can be extremely difficult without appropriate professional assistance. Thankfully, specialized treatment has proved to be effective at helping individuals overcome the compulsion to abuse Vicodin.


Vicodin addiction statistics

In 2013, U.S. government records indicated that the generic version of Vicodin was the most commonly prescribed drug for individuals who were enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug plan. More than 690,000 healthcare providers wrote at least one prescription for Vicodin in 2013. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription medication overdoses are responsible for 40 deaths every day in the United States, with many of these overdoses resulting from the misuse of opioid-based medications such as Vicodin. From 1999 to 2010, deaths due to prescription painkiller overdose rose by 400 percent among adult women and 256 percent among adult men.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Vicodin addiction

Abusing Vicodin or other opioid-based medications and developing an opioid use disorder may be influenced by a variety of factors, including the following:

Genetic: People whose families have a history of opioid use disorder may be at increased risk for developing a similar problem. This is especially true for those whose parents or siblings struggled with opioid use disorder. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has reported that heritable characteristics including impulsivity and novelty seeking can increase the likelihood that a person will engage in substance abuse, which can lead to Vicodin dependence.

Risk Factors:

  • Experiencing acute or chronic pain that is treated with Vicodin
  • Family history of opioid use disorder involving Vicodin
  • Family or personal history of mental illness
  • Prior substance abuse
  • Having problems with impulse control
  • Associating with individuals who abuse Vicodin
  • Having access to Vicodin

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction

The signs of Vicodin abuse may vary from person to person depending upon a number of factors, but the following are among the more common indicators that a person has been abusing or has become dependent upon Vicodin:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Frequent unexplained absences from work or school
  • Diminished performance at work or in school
  • Secrecy and/or deception regarding whereabouts and activities
  • Continued compulsive use of Vicodin, despite attempts to stop
  • Use of Vicodin in situations where it is dangerous to do so
  • Borrowing or stealing Vicodin
  • Visiting multiple doctors in an attempt to illegally get multiple prescriptions for Vicodin

Physical symptoms:

  • Pupil constriction
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vision problems

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired judgment
  • Inability to concentrate or focus

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Lack of interest in significant activities
  • Withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional detachment


Effects of Vicodin addiction

Chronic untreated Vicodin abuse and the development of opioid use disorder involving Vicodin can lead to myriad negative outcomes, including the following:

  • Damage to liver and kidneys
  • Damage to heart and lungs
  • Vision problems
  • Family discord
  • Marital strife, including separation and divorce
  • Strained or destroyed interpersonal relationships
  • Academic failure and expulsion
  • Subpar performance at work
  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Financial distress
  • Development or worsening of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

Co-Occurring Disorders

Vicodin addiction and co-occurring disorders

Individuals who struggle with Vicodin use disorder may be at increased risk for also experiencing the following co-occurring mental health disorders:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Other substance use disorders

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Vicodin withdrawal and overdose

Effects of Vicodin withdrawal: When a person has become dependent upon Vicodin, attempting to stop or significantly reduce one’s abuse of this drug can trigger then onset of several unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including the following:

  • Pupil dilation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Aching muscles
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Dysphoria

Effects of Vicodin overdose: Individuals who ingest an unsafe amount of Vicodin may experience an overdose. People who display the following signs after taking Vicodin may be in need of immediate medical attention:

  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Headache
  • Extremely slow or shallow breathing
  • Sleepiness
  • Seizures
Marks of Quality Care
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • Glasser Quality Organization
  • Pennsylvania Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs
  • The Jason Foundation