How Does Vicodin Work

Vicodin is a synthetic drug used for the treatment of pain. The active ingredients in Vicodin are hydrocodone and acetaminophen. The medication is an analgesic (pain reliever) and antitussive (cough suppressant).

How Long Does Vicodin Last?

It takes Vicodin about an average of 30 minutes to 1 hour to effect the body. The acetaminophen in the medication helps to accelerate the drug’s absorption rate into the body. Some people may have a natural tolerance to Vicodin, and for them it may take longer for the drug’s effects to kick in.

About an hour to an hour and a half after Vicodin starts working on the system that the user experiences its strongest effects. The drug will continue to work for approximately another 2 hours before starting to wear off. The stronger the concentrations of Vicodin, the longer it will work for. Extended release tablets can last up to 6 hours.

3 to 4 hours after the initial effects of Vicodin, it starts to wear off. If a user has developed an high tolerance to hydrocodone, then the effects will wear off sooner for them.

What Factors Influence the Onset of Vicodin?

Many factors contribute to the onset of Vicodin. For Vicodin to work, hydrocodone needs to be absorbed into the body and distributed to opiate receptors in the central nervous system. This is what helps block pain and relax the muscles. At the same time, the acetaminophen affects anti inflammation in the body. It is during this process of absorption that a number of different factors can affect the rate at which drug onset begins, such as:

  • Drug Bioavailability: Orally ingested Vicodin has a lower bioavailability, than if it was administered through an IV. Via IV the Vicodin enters the bloodstream directly, thus affecting the user far more quickly and causing euphoria and dizziness.  Orally ingested Vicodin releases the medication slowly into the stomach, and then into the bloodstream. Crushing or snorting Vicodin also gives it a stronger bioavailability.
  • Drug Concentration: Vicodin comes in three different strengths, depending on the amount of hydrocodone in it. The more hydrocodone there is, the stronger the effect on the body. Some forms of the drug are designed to be slow release, meaning that they last longer than forms with a short half life.
  • Administration: How Vicodin is administered makes a difference to the onset of the drug. A user can take Vicodin orally, or have it delivered directly into the bloodstream. Users have been known to chew the drug or crush and snort it. This method of taking Vicodin is not advisable as it creates euphoria and affects tolerance.
  • Type of Delivery: Liquid Vicodin is the fastest form of delivery and absorption. Capsules dissolve in the body and release the hydrocodone in a powder form. Tablets are the slowest acting form and can come designed for extended release.

At The Villa we have the information and resources for you to learn about Vicodin use or misuse. Call us to find out how we can help.