Doctors sometimes prescribe the combination drug Vicodin to manage moderate to severe pain. Like other opioid-containing drugs, Vicodin is addictive and can be abused for its mind-altering effects. If you or someone you love has been abusing Vicodin, now is the time to get help. Whether or not Vicodin addiction is present, misusing this drug can be dangerous. With the right prescription drug rehabilitation, recovery is possible. If you or someone you love has been abusing Vicodin, now is the time to get help. Whether or not Vicodin addiction is present, misusing this drug can be dangerous. With the right prescription drug rehabilitation, recovery is possible.

Side Effects of Vicodin Abuse

Doctors prescribe Vicodin because it treats a patient’s pain, but the drug also carries other side effects users may experience the longer they use the drug.

Short-term effects of Vicodin abuse include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Slowed breathing
  • Impaired judgement
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drowsiness

The longer you abuse Vicodin, the more health problems this may cause. Some of the long-term health effects of Vicodin abuse include:

  • Addiction
  • Liver problems
  • Jaundice
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Memory problems
  • Seizures
  • Blurred vision

Can You Overdose on Vicodin?

Vicodin is a dangerous narcotic. Take too much and you may overdose, which could result in organ failure and death.
Symptoms of Vicodin overdose include:

  • Seizure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Liver failure
  • Jaundice
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Blue fingers and lips
  • Vomiting

Vicodin overdose is a serious medical emergency. If you notice any of these signs in another person, call 911 immediately.

Commonly Abused Drug Combinations

Despite warnings on the prescription bottle, many people who use Vicodin combine the medication with other drugs. Vicodin interactions can cause major damage to the body, though, and can lead to hospitalization or death.

Some of the most common interactions include:

  • Vicodin and Alcohol – Drinking while taking Vicodin can be extremely dangerous to a person’s liver health because both alcohol and acetaminophen, one of the main ingredients in Vicodin, are both metabolized through the liver. Each drug can cause liver injury and liver failure when abused alone. When used together, the consequences on the liver could turn deadly.
  • Vicodin and Adderall – There is little research on combining Adderall and Vicodin, although their effects oppose each other as Adderall is meant to encourage focus and Vicodin can cause drowsiness and inability to concentrate. Ask your doctor before combining these two medications.

Recognizing Abuse

In order to avoid the harmful effects of Vicodin addiction, it is crucial to recognize a drug problem as soon as possible. Even if you keep an eye out for addiction signs and recognize the problem, you may not know how severe it is. It is important to have this information — it will guide you in determining the kind of treatment that is best for you and whether or not you require medical detox.

In order to determine the severity of a Vicodin addiction, seek the help of a mental health professional who adheres to the standards set in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This body of information, which is updated once every few years, is the authority on mental illness in America. Professionals use it to diagnose and better understand substance use disorders and other psychiatric problems.

The latest version of the DSM lists 11 criteria to define opioid use disorder (such as level of use, tolerance, uncontrollable cravings, and others). The severity of addiction is based on how many of those criteria a person meets. The current severity breakdown is as follows:

  • Mild addiction – 2–3 criteria met
  • Moderate addiction – 4–5 criteria met
  • Severe addiction – 6+ criteria met

Staging an Intervention

If someone you love has a problem with Vicodin abuse, it’s time to take action. Consider staging an intervention. During this event, you will sit down and discuss with your loved one how their addiction has impacted you and why you want them to get help.

Because there is a right and wrong way to go about staging an intervention, you may benefit from the help of a professional interventionist. This person has lots of experience helping families and friends communicate with one another and reach the common goal of getting a loved one to the best rehab center for their needs.

a woman is standing with her arms crossed.
By – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
a woman wearing glasses and a white robe.
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

AbbVie. “Vicodin (hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen) Tablets, USP | HCP.” Vicodin (hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen) Tablets, USP, AbbVie, Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

The Recovery Village. “Street Names for Drugs: A List of Popular Drug Slang Terms.” The Recovery Village, 15 Sept. 2016,[…]eet-names-for-drugs/. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Prescription Drug Abuse Symptoms.” Mayo Clinic, 19 Sept. 2015,[…]ymptoms/con-20032471.

American Psychiatric Association. “Opioid Use Disorder Diagnostic Criteria.” PCSS-MAT, Providers’ Clinical Support System For Medication Assisted Treatment,

Hasin, Deborah S., et al. “DSM-5 Criteria for Substance Use Disorders: Recommendations and Rationale.” PubMed Central (PMC), American Journal of Psychiatry, 1 Aug. 2014,

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.