Vicodin combines both acetaminophen and hydrocodone which are pain killers. Hydrocodone is an opioid (narcotic) while acetaminophen is less potent and increases the effects of hydrocodone. Vicodin is used to relieve moderate to severe pain.
An individual who uses alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers or other narcotics should not use Vicodin to prevent dangerous side effects. Hydrocodone can slow or stop a person from breathing which is why an individual should not use the drug in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than prescribed. Narcotic pain medicine may be habit-forming even when taken as prescribed. Medication should be kept where a person with a prescription can use it but is not in reach of others who may abuse the drug. Individuals without a prescription are more prone to overdose or death while using Vicodin including children, adolescents or other adults who use the medicine other than by prescription.
To ensure safe use of Vicodin, a person who has taken an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days should not use Vicodin to avoid a dangerous interaction. This includes isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine and others. The following precautions should also be considered before taking Vicodin:
- Tell a doctor if liver disease, cirrhosis or drinking 3 alcoholic beverages in a day is occurring
- History of alcoholism or drug addiction
- Kidney disease
- Low blood pressure or dehydration
- History of head injury, brain tumor or stroke
- Breathing disorders (sleep apnea, asthma, COPD, etc)
Vicodin is more likely to cause breathing problems in older adults and persons with severe illness or are otherwise debilitated.
A person who uses Vicodin properly must take the drug as prescribed by a doctor. The liquid form of Vicodin should be measured carefully according to dosage. A household spoon may cause an error in dosage which can cause problems. Pain medication works best if the individual uses it at the first sign of pain. If pain worsens, the drug may not work as prescribed. This may result in a person changing the dose without consulting a doctor. Ongoing pain (due to cancer, for example) may cause a doctor to prescribe Vicodin only for short term periods of pain relief. Withdrawal symptoms may occur if a person has used the drug regularly for long periods of time at a high dosage. Restlessness, watery eyes, runny nose, nausea and muscle aches are some of the symptoms associated with withdrawal from Vicodin. The risk of addiction decreases when Vicodin is used as prescribed and monitored by a treating physician.
If you or a loved one struggle with addiction to Vicodin or other pain killers, it may be time to seek help. The Villa provides individualized treatment for individuals who wish to quit painkillers. Call us to find out how we can support your recovery journey.