Vicodin contains a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Both medicines are pain killers. Hydrocodone is an opioid pain medication, sometimes called a narcotic. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increase the effects of hydrocodone. It is typically used to relieve moderate to severe pain, and is highly addictive. Vicodin is available in the United States only as prescription medicine.

How Vicodin Works

Hydrocodone is a synthetic drug created to mimic effects and actions of morphine, which comes from opium. Despite it being synthetic, it is still considered one of the more psychoactive prescription medications which can produce euphoria. The drug works by affecting the brain’s opiate receptors in order to lessen feelings and perceptions of pain. Hydrocodone also produces a “high” feeling by causing sedation, respiratory depression, and euphoric feelings.

If Vicodin is abused and not taken as directed there is a chance of overdose and other life-threatening side effects. Because hydrocodone is a central nervous system depressant, it also slows brain activity. In addition it can have an effect on other parts of the body, including:

  • impaired coordination
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • nausea
  • shallow breathing
  • slowed heart rate
  • vomiting

Effects of Vicodin hit their peak a little over an hour after ingestion, and can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. This can vary based on the dose and individual person. When taken correctly, Vicodin is a great treatment for pain. However, because of its addictive qualities, it’s not always the right choice for everyone. People with a history of drug or alcohol abuse should refrain from taking the medication. Certain medications may interact adversely to Vicodin, so always be sure to check with a doctor or pharmacist before trying new medications.

To better understand if someone is addicted to Vicodin, consider these things:

  • the person has a psychological compulsion to seek out the drug, despite negative effects on their personal or professional life
  • the person uses Vicodin non-medically in order to get high
  • the person takes the drug more than is directed

Even if the person is not addicted to Vicodin, it is easy to develop a tolerance and dependence on the medication when taking for an extended period of time. If taken as prescribed, drug addiction should not be a concern.


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