Is It Safe to Take Vicodin Long-Term?

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Updated 04/06/2023

All medications have side effects, and one of the biggest with the pain reliever Vicodin is that long-term use can contribute to addiction. The problem is that the medication is also successful in alleviating long-term, chronic pain. However, there is a downside to Vicodin. What are the dangers of long-term Vicodin use?

A man grimacing in pain due to back pain

Vicodin Revealed

Vicodin combines two pain relievers:

  • Acetaminophen, which is marketed under the trade name Tylenol, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to fight inflammation in the body
  • Hydrocodone, which is a synthetic type of codeine opioid, works by changing how the central nervous system adapts and responds to chronic pain

Vicodin uses these two medications to fight pain. The medication is marketed under a variety of brand names:

  • Vicodin
  • Lortab
  • Anexsia
  • Zydone
  • Lorcet
  • Norco

Because Vicodin is highly addictive, it must only be prescribed and monitored by a doctor for short-term use. Vicodin addiction is a common side effect of long-term use of this medication. Vicodin is one of the most widely prescribed pain relievers in the U.S. and one of the most frequently misused.

Because of the risk of addiction, Vicodin creates some unique health concerns for the patient struggling with chronic pain. Vicodin has other side effects that are less serious, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Breathing problems
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Data from addiction treatment programs suggest that Vicodin is both physically and mentally addictive. Dependence can occur over time and the person using the medication can have the following symptoms:

  • Withdrawal symptoms that include joint and muscle pain, anxiety, insomnia, night sweats and a jittery feeling
  • The need to take more of the medication in order to achieve the same effect
  • Keen awareness of when the drug starts to wear off
  • A sense of panic if the person begins to run out of the drug

Family and friends may notice these warning signs, particularly if the person using Vicodin tries to hide how frequently they use the medication, or if they switch doctors to get more medication. The person struggling with Vicodin addiction may have a secret stash of the drug in their car or at work. It’s important to realize that these symptoms will make the person feel embarrassed and ashamed, but it is crucial that they seek help right away in order to treat Vicodin addiction.

Long-term use of Vicodin can lead to addiction. Addiction treatment can consist of gradually reducing the Vicodin dosage under medical supervision, as well as making the person more comfortable during the withdrawal process.

If you’re worried about your Vicodin use, talk with your doctor today about alternative methods for pain management. Effectively managing chronic pain is crucial to maintaining a healthy life. Contact The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake today to learn more.

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