Vicodin is one of several brand-name variants of the popular opioid drug hydrocodone. This prescription drug is classified as a painkiller, with a combination of an opioid — hydrocodone — and a paracetamol compound. The second component is more commonly known as acetaminophen or Tylenol.

Because the opioid component of the drug is addictive, Vicodin use can lead to a substance use disorder, even when taken as prescribed. Building up a harmful tolerance is also likely. Individuals may become used to the pain-reducing properties of the drug and need them to function.

Can You Overdose on Vicodin?

Yes. Both of the active compounds in Vicodin can lead to an overdose when consumed in excess. Because each Vicodin pill contains upwards of 300 mg of acetaminophen, people may experience severe liver complications with even minimal usage.

How Many Vicodin to Overdose?

When people think of a Vicodin overdose, they most likely imagine the effects of hydrocodone rather than acetaminophen.

Hydrocodone comes in a concentration of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg or 10 mg for every 300 mg or 325 mg of acetaminophen. One or two tablets are the recommended dose within a four-to-six-hour window. Used as directed, this equals out to no more than 12 pills in a given day.

The scientifically and medically accepted amount to produce a fatal overdose of hydrocodone is 90 mg. Thus, 18 Vicodin pills can lead to an overdose. As you’ll notice, this already puts an individual far above the liver’s tolerance of acetaminophen at 5,400 mg, meaning an individual would experience two separate overdoses if they managed to consume this many pills. Crushing, snorting or injecting Vicodin can also increase the risk of overdose.

Vicodin Overdose Symptoms

Vicodin overdose symptoms mirror those of a hydrocodone-only overdose with additional symptoms of acetaminophen ingestion. Symptoms may involve:

  • Gastrointestinal imbalance: Nausea, vomiting, cramps and loss of appetite are some of the first recognizable indications of a Vicodin overdose
  • Body fatigue and cloudy thoughts: While confusion may originate from the mind, the body will exhibit lethargy of its own
  • Painful or difficult breathing: Oxygen deprivation is a serious concern.

It’s vital that you report any chest pain to first responders during an initial 911 call, as this is a characteristic opioid overdose symptom.

Drug overdose can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.

Signs of a Vicodin Overdose

An outside observer may discover that an overdose victim exhibits signs of trauma, such as blue lips, damp skin or loss of consciousness.

Several signs also exist for acetaminophen overdoses, including:

  • Yellowing skin or eyes
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Painful abdominal muscles
  • Angry or erratic behavior
  • Coma

Related Topic: Hydrocodone overdose

Vicodin Overdose Treatment

The opioid factor found in Vicodin requires the most immediate medical attention in Vicodin overdose treatment. Hydrocodone overdose can be reversed with an antagonist drug called naloxone. While an antidote heals a victim, naloxone does something else entirely. It blocks the key opioid receptors found within the central nervous system that lead to an overdose. Once the overdose is effectively blocked, an overdose victim can be transported and treated at a nearby facility by medical personnel.

Vicodin overdose doesn’t have to be the end of your story. If you or someone you love is struggling with a Vicodin addiction, help is closer than you think. The Recovery Village specializes in addressing substance use disorders of all kinds, along with the co-occurring disorders that can influence them. Reach out to speak to an intake coordinator today and take the first step toward a better life. 

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
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.