People who are addicted to Vicodin may take extremely high doses of the drug each and every day. As a result, they always have some particles of the drug circulating within the bloodstream, attaching to receptors and triggering chemical responses. Over time, the body becomes acclimated to these small particles, and if those particles are suddenly removed, the body reacts with alarm and alerts the brain with a series of increasingly uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Agitation
  • Aching muscles
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea

While enduring these symptoms is certainly possible, and very few people go through life-threatening withdrawal when they stop taking Vicodin, most people would rather avoid pain when they can. Detoxification programs can help. Here, addicted people can receive the help they’ll need to move past detoxification without feeling terrible.


Intake and Planning


vicodin detoxAccording to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, most people can move through the detoxification process within 12 to 30 hours of taking a dose of an opiate like Vicodin. Some detoxification programs last only a few days as a result. These programs are designed only to help a person eliminate Vicodin from the body, and when that process is complete, the person is ready to move on to the next phase of treatment, which might even take place within the same facility that provided detoxification services.

In order to determine the best type of treatment, patients are asked to provide details about the types of drugs they take, and the dosages they’ve become accustomed to. It’s important for people to be honest during this interview, even if the questions seem intrusive or embarrassing, as these answers will help medical professionals to develop a detoxification program that will help the person to stay comfortable. It’s common for programs to ask people to go through a urine screening as well, just so staff members can ensure that all of the answers given were truthful.

When this screening is complete, the person will be provided with a plan that outlines how long detoxification is likely to take, and what sorts of medications might be provided by consulting physicians to help the process along. Patients have the opportunity to speak up here and modify the plan if they’d like to. Consulting medical professionals encourage their addicted patients to speak up and outline their concerns. Addicts are in the process of taking charge of their lives once more, and it’s best if that work begins during detox.


Medications Provided


Vicodin is an opiate medication that has been associated with a painful and drawn-out withdrawal process, if the process is allowed to progress naturally. In addition to the physical symptoms outlined above, people in withdrawal from Vicodin often have severe cravings for the drug they once abused, and those cravings can drive addicts right back to use.

Consulting doctors can prescribe medications that mimic the action of Vicodin can help to quell cravings, and they can reduce the pain and discomfort that often occurs during withdrawal. One medication, buprenorphine, has proven exceptionally helpful for people going through Vicodin withdrawal. This drug mimics the action of Vicodin, but it’s not associated with the same feelings of euphoria and sleepiness that Vicodin produces. If given properly, people on buprenorphine simply feel normal, rather than feeling either high or in pain.

In one study published in the American Journal on Addictions, 97 percent of people given buprenorphine successfully went through detoxification of opiates, and 62 percent of patients had no symptoms of opiate withdrawal at all. It’s clear that this drug has the ability to help some people feel comfortable, while their bodies learn to live without drugs. An older medication, methadone, is sometimes used to help people who have more advanced cases of Vicodin addiction. Buprenorphine is considered a rather weak drug that has a low threshold of effectiveness. People with advanced cases of addiction, and high levels of damage as a result, may not benefit from this gentler drug and they may need the help that methadone provides. However, some people who are given methadone feel slightly uncomfortable, and they may choose to leave their detoxification programs as a result.

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In a study published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, people who were given methadone for detoxification were more likely to drop out of the work, when compared to people who were given buprenorphine. It’s a risk medical staff monitors closely. While these medications can help with cravings and some of the physical symptoms opiate withdrawal can cause, consulting medical staff might also provide these medications to help people to deal with additional problems:

  • Antacids
  • Sleeping medications
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Antidepressant medications

Some facilities provide ultra-rapid detoxification, in which the addict is placed under general anesthesia and then given the opioid agonist naltrexone. The idea here is that the agonist will make all the remaining Vicodin in the person’s body inactive, and the person will be under anesthesia and feel no discomfort as a result. Facilities that offer this care claim that they can detoxify patients in just a few days, but the procedure isn’t without risk. According to a review of the issue published in JAMA, few studies of the process have been performed with the appropriate controls, and some people have developed heart problems during the process. At this point, rapid detoxification isn’t considered safe enough for all people to use. Michael’s House does not implement or recommend rapid detox.


Moving Through the Process


Aftercare Services

Aftercare services like sober living homes, support groups, and one-on-one therapy are important follow-up programs to Vicodin detox and addiction treatment. Once you break free from the drug’s physical hold on you and learn the coping skills to avoid relapse due to emotional or psychological stress, all you have to do is keep reminding yourself that you have these tools. The support of others in 12 step meetings, group therapy sessions and the support of staff in psychotherapy and treatment can help you stay on track no matter what happens.

Most consulting physicians start their patients on what they believe is an appropriate dose of medications, given the amount of drugs the person is accustomed to taking and the amount of discomfort the person is feeling when the program begins. Then, the person is monitored closely for any signs of discomfort.

A person who begins to sweat or develop tearing eyes might need higher doses of medications, as might a person who expresses a rising sense of panic and a need to escape. Similarly, consulting medical staff might also look for signs of sedation and sleepiness, as this might be a sign that the person is getting doses of medication that are far too strong.

Some people are able to taper their medication use quite quickly, taking higher doses near the beginning of the process and then taking smaller and smaller doses as the process moves forward until they are taking no drugs at all. Other people develop symptoms of withdrawal when they’re asked to taper off their medications, and they may need to take these medications for longer periods of time.

According to a study published in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, the best way to deal with an opioid addiction is to provide people with long-term access to buprenorphine, and provide the person with a therapist to talk to. This is exactly what will happen when the detoxification process is over, as the person will begin working with a professional in a structured rehab program for addiction.

When people are able to produce urine samples that are free of traces of Vicodin, and they’re able to concentrate and think clearly, instead of focusing exclusively on their physical symptoms caused by withdrawal, the detoxification process is considered complete and the next stage of healing can begin.


Moving Forward


getting helpIt’s important to note that detoxification programs are not considered a cure or an appropriate treatment for an addiction. People who leave their detoxification programs without receiving any other form of help often go right back to their drug use, almost immediately. They haven’t yet developed the skills they’ll need in order to deflect the temptation to use, so the sobriety they attained in detoxification is tenuous at best. For this reason, most detoxification facilities provide addicts with a significant amount of information about the benefits of rehabilitation, and they encourage addicts, at almost every step of the process, to enter a rehab program as soon as the detox process is complete.

Michael’s House has been helping people recover from Vicodin addictions for many years. If you have questions about how detox works, and how it fits into a larger plan of recovery from a Vicodin addiction, please call us today. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have.