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Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline–Vicodin Withdrawal

Hydrocodone, also known by the brand name Vicodin, is a prescription opioid pain medication prescribed to treat severe pain under specific medical settings and circumstances such as pain associated with trauma, surgery, and cancer. It is commonly used in conjunction with acetaminophen (Tylenol) to treat pain or with other ingredients in cough syrups.1 Since hydrocodone is an opioid, there is a high potential for opioid dependency and, when this medication is reduced or stopped, a high risk of withdrawal. Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, and these symptoms can range in intensity and duration.

Trying to cope with opioid withdrawal at home can be difficult. The experience of withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and include physical and psychological side effects.3 Fortunately, professional detox can help alleviate uncomfortable or unwanted withdrawal symptoms. In this article, you will learn about hydrocodone dependency and withdrawal, detoxification (detox), and effective treatment options that may be available.

Find Out If Your Insurance Plan Covers Vicodin Addiction Rehab

American Addiction Centers can help you navigate treatment options and recovery from hydrocodone dependence and withdrawal. To find out if your insurance covers treatment at an American Addiction Centers facility, click here or fill out the form below. Your information is kept 100% confidential. You can also click here to find a rehab near me.

Effects of Hydrocodone Use

Hydrocodone, like other opioids, is often prescribed to help individuals manage pain.2 It is effective in managing acute or chronic pain as well as suppressed a cough.1 While hydrocodone can provide people with pain relief, there are side effects to the use of the drug, even when it is used as it is prescribed. Side effects of hydrocodone use may include:1

  • Euphoria.
  • Respiratory depression,
  • Sedation.
  • Constipation.
  • Agitation.
  • Confusion.<

Hydrocodone Dependence

Hydrocodone, like other opioids, acts on the brain and central nervous system to produce feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Hydrocodone changes the chemical responses in the brain. More specifically, hydrocodone use causes a pleasurable rush of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for reward seeking behavior.4

With hydrocodone use, the body experiences pleasurable and pain-relieving effects potentially resulting in a cycle of wanting more hydrocodone to experience these effects.

Physical dependence may occur in anyone who takes hydrocodone over an extended period. Dependence is a physiological adaptation of the body to a substance, wherein the body becomes so used to the drug being present in the system that when the individual cuts back on their use or quits, withdrawal symptoms emerge.3,7 In other words, a person feels like they need this drug to feel and function normally. With significant levels of physiological dependence, a person may continue to compulsively drink or use drugs to avoid unwanted withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms and Signs?

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are different for everyone, and they can include physical and mental symptoms. The severity of withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to dangerous. The variability of withdrawal symptoms of hydrocodone can be a result of several factors, including:6

  • Length of use.
  • Amount of drug used.
  • Underlying physical/medical health conditions such as infections.

Although the experience is different for everyone, some common hydrocodone withdrawal signs and symptoms may include:3

  • Nausea.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Bone and muscle pain.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Anxiety.
  • Sleep problems including insomnia.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Hyperthermia (high body temperature).
  • Sweating and perspiration.
  • Goosebumps.
  • Increased respiratory rate.

Many of the symptoms are similar to “flu-like symptoms,” and they can be uncomfortable but are rarely fatal. However, in some cases, opioid withdrawal can be life-threatening, specifically if other substances were also misused.7

How Long Does Hydrocodone Withdrawal Last?

Your hydrocodone withdrawal timeline is based on many factors. Furthermore, types of symptoms and duration of the symptoms also depend on individual variables. Withdrawal symptoms can last days and even weeks.3 Your Vicodin withdrawal timeline may differ from others, and your symptom intensity will vary.

Symptom onset can occur anywhere from 6–30 hours after stopping hydrocodone.10

Peak withdrawal refers to the point during the withdrawal process where symptoms are the most severe. This can be a vulnerable time for relapse or dropping out of treatment.9 Peak withdrawal symptoms can occur at different times, depending on individual factors, such as a person’s dosage. However, they usually occur around 72 hours.10

After peak withdrawal, symptoms will start to decline in intensity and frequency. Symptoms can last for weeks or months and not all symptoms present at the same time.1 Symptoms that may occur or persist after the acute withdrawal period may include:11

  • Dysphoria (feeling down).
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks.
  • Irritability.
  • Deficits in executive control functioning (planning, learning and completing mental tasks).

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Help

Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, severe, and even dangerous. Abruptly stopping the use of Vicodin is not recommended due to the risks associated with withdrawal, as mentioned previously.

For many, detox is the initial phase of formal treatment for substance dependency and substance use disorders. Detox is the process of eliminating the substance from your body and is usually under the care of addiction treatment professionals. Detox can occur on an inpatient or outpatient basis and can include a variety of mental health and medical professionals that can help determine appropriate interventions such as medications, behavioral therapy approaches and education.9

Additionally, relapse can occur during withdrawal. During withdrawal, you are more vulnerable to relapse as you are experiencing intense cravings and discomfort, which may be temporarily relieved through Vicodin use.4 Continuing through detox and moving into a long-term recovery program can help treat and manage any underlying triggers, thoughts, or behaviors that may lead to hydrocodone addiction.

Detoxing from Hydrocodone

Professional drug detox can help mitigate some of the potential dangers of withdrawal. Under the care of a licensed treatment facility, you will receive medical supervision 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during detox for addiction. You will be monitored and prescribed medications as needed. The time it takes to detox from hydrocodone effectively is different for everyone. However, you can generally expect to complete detox within several days to a couple of weeks.

Finding Lasting Recovery

It is important to note that detox is often just the first step on the road toward recovery. During detox, the purpose is to withdraw from hydrocodone safely; however, detox is the first step in substance misuse treatment, and it is often necessary for individuals to pursue additional treatment to achieve their sobriety goals.

Your treatment experience will be dependent on factors unique to you. Together, you and a licensed professional will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and recovery goals. Treatment usually entails a combination of services and interventions including:12

  • Individual or group counseling.
  • Family counseling.
  • Medication.
  • Treatment for mental health disorders.
  • Medical care.
  • Case management services that address social, vocational, and legal needs.

Therapy and counseling are the most commonly used interventions in drug addiction treatment.12 Therapy, both individual and group, offers a variety of benefits.

As you can see, treatment for opioid addiction offers a variety of benefits that can help you successfully detox and live a high quality of life in recovery.


  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2020). LiverTox: Clinical and research information on drug-induced liver injury — hydrocodone.
  2. Drug Enforcement Agency. (2019). Hydrocodone.
  3. Dydyk, A. M., Gupta, M., & Jain, N. K. (2022). Opioid use disorder.
  4. S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). The neurobiology of substance use, misuse, and addiction.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Teaching Addiction Science: The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction.
  6. Attia, F.N., Gokarakonda, S.B., & Gupta, M.G. (2021). Withdrawal syndromes.
  7. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 15-4131. Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2006.
  8. Huecker, M.R. & Shah, M. (2021). Opioid withdrawal.
  9. Srivastava, A.B., Mariani, J.J., Levin, F.R. (2020). New directions in the treatment of opioid withdrawal. Lancet, 395(10241): 1938-1948.
  10. S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Opioid withdrawal support.
  11. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Protracted withdrawal.
  12. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (third edition) – Principles of effective treatment.

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