Commonly prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain following treatments such as oral surgery and outpatient procedures, Vicodin is listed by The Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it is considered dangerous.
Although an effective painkiller, the medication can be addictive and cause adverse side effects and withdrawal symptoms. If you are taking other medicines alongside Vicodin, it is essential to know how long it stays in your system to avoid any potential dangers.
How Does Vicodin Affect the Body?
Vicodin’s main ingredient is hydrocodone, a narcotic analgesic synthesized from codeine. Once consumed, hydrocodone connects to cells in the brain and spinal cord called opioid receptors. As opioids can obstruct pain signals sent to the brain, this results in changes in a person’s perception of pain as well as their emotional reactions.
More recently, Vicodin has become a popular drug due to the euphoric feelings it offers after use. This has led to addiction problems, as people may become reliant on Vicodin due to its relaxing and pleasant side effects.
Some other potential side effects of Vicodin are:
- Chronic constipation
In addition to the surge of abuse, deaths associated with Vicodin have increased. As hydrocodone slows down the heart and breathing rate, it can be hazardous if taken with other prescription drugs, such as muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, or medications for mental illness or nausea.
If Vicodin is combined with alcohol, it can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, leading to a risk of a coma, brain damage, and in the worst-case scenario, death.
Because of the negative effects Vicodin has, developing an addiction to it is extremely dangerous. In addition to reducing the functioning of the digestive and respiratory systems, which results in potential intestinal damage, those who frequently use the drug are vulnerable to respiratory infections and lung problems.
Furthermore, acetaminophen and hydrocodone can cause inflammation, scarring, and liver damage. If a person is affected by a Vicodin overdose, the following symptoms may be experienced:
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach spasms
- Limp or weak muscles
- Slowed heartbeat
If a Vicodin overdose is experienced, professional medical advice must be sought immediately. If an overdose is caught in the early stages, American addiction centers can offer treatment to reverse the effects.
How Long Does Vicodin Stay in Your System?
Vicodin has two active ingredients – acetaminophen and hydrocodone – which relieve pain for approximately four to six hours. However, drug tests may be able to detect Vicodin in the body for several days after use.
Several factors influence the length of time that it takes Vicodin to leave the system, some of which are listed below:
- Dosage – If an individual takes one dose of Vicodin, they will have a smaller amount in their system than those who take more significant, frequent doses. Essentially, this means that those who only use smaller doses will notice that Vicodin leaves their system much quicker.
- Body fat – The more body fat a person has, the more hydrocodone will be absorbed. Heavy use of the drug results in hydrocodone being stored in fatty tissues, which keeps traces of the drug in the body for longer.
- Exercise – Physical activity can help speed up metabolism and improve the cardiovascular system.
- Overall health – If a person has liver damage, they will have trouble metabolizing Vicodin. This means the drug will stay in their system much longer.
In addition, every drug has a half-life, which determines how long it takes to eliminate half of the drug from the body. Acetaminophen has a half-life of one and a half to three hours depending on the person and their liver function. In contrast, the half-life of a dose of hydrocodone is four hours, and the average half-life of Vicodin is about four hours.
How Long Does Vicodin Stay in a Drug Test?
If a drug test is required when an individual consumes Vicodin, it will usually be used to detect hydrocodone. Whether its effects are felt or not, hydrocodone can be detected in the body for up to ninety days.
There are a number of options for Vicodin drug testing, such as:
- Saliva test – This is the most convenient type of drug test. However, saliva testing must be completed in the days following Vicodin use as it is not detectable for twelve hours, and all traces of the drug fade after thirty-six hours.
- Hair test – A hair follicle test can detect traces of substances for up to ninety days after use. Although a hair sample can take ten days to test positive, this is the most reliable test method.
- Urine test – Urine tests are the most common way to test for Vicodin, as the drug is detectable in urine for up to four days after consumption.
Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are similar to those experienced when withdrawing from other medications and drugs, such as morphine, heroin, or codeine. Even if Vicodin is only taken for several weeks, users may still experience symptoms. People who have taken Vicodin as prescribed to relieve pain may also experience withdrawal.
When someone develops a Vicodin addiction and suddenly stops taking the drug, withdrawal symptoms, such as the following may arise:
- Muscle aches
As hydrocodone is a short-acting opioid, symptoms will typically surface eight to twenty-four hours after the last dose. If a person thinks they may have a Vicodin addiction, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional to seek help with withdrawal symptoms.
When an individual develops a physical or psychological dependence on Vicodin, stopping taking the drug can be challenging. The safest way to eliminate Vicodin from the system is through medical detox. Here, a person is monitored throughout their detox experience to help eradicate any potential dangers and ensure that support is available during withdrawal.
If heavy or prolonged Vicodin use is experienced, it is essential to seek treatment during the detox process. When seeking treatment, contacting a healthcare provider will ensure that several methods of treatment and medications can be provided to help with side effects.
Once a person has completed detox, addiction treatment such as therapy is recommended to ensure all issues surrounding addiction are dealt with. Additional treatment can also help those in recovery prepare for a healthy, substance-free future.
Vicodin can be an effective painkiller for severe pain and chronic pain, and it can also help those recovering from an injury or surgery. However, it is important to remember the dangerous risks that may arise if Vicodin is taken with other drugs or not taken under medical supervision. The euphoric high that some may experience from taking Vicodin makes hydrocodone addiction a potential danger.
For guidance and support surrounding how to detox from Vicodin, contact one of the many American addiction centers located across the country today.