How to Taper off Vicodin

The Vicodin brand of medication is part of a drug class known as opioids. In fact, it is just one of many such brand-name medicines that contain the common painkiller hydrocodone. Along with the opioid painkiller component, Vicodin is rounded out by another compound: acetaminophen. This drug’s name is a bit of a mouthful; most people choose to just call it by its brand name, Tylenol.

The hydrocodone base found is Vicodin lends itself well to the treatment of various levels of pain and discomfort. Its effective range is truly impressive: from sport-related injuries to cancer-induced pain. In comparison, acetaminophen is the common man’s painkiller — anyone is free to purchase the medicine at their local corner store without a prescription. Both components treat pain, and each makes the other better at its chemical job. In this way, Vicodin is thought to be more effective than hydrocodone by itself.

Do not get Vicodin confused with Percocet — another opioid that functions the same way in the brain and also contains acetaminophen. As established, Vicodin has a main ingredient of hydrocodone, while Percocet is made up of oxycodone instead. Each is referred to as hydrocodone/acetaminophen and oxycodone/acetaminophen respectively. The confusion is understandable.

When discussing the use-and-abuse potential of Vicodin, experts always focus on the hydrocodone factor. Like all opioids and opiates, Vicodin binds to opioid receptors in the brain to begin its painkilling functionality. This can a blessing for individuals suffering from chronic pain in the short-term, but after extended use, a Vicodin tolerance can lead to unfortunate outcomes. Before long, users may develop unmanageable substance use disorders.

With overdose deaths attributed to Vicodin and other prescription opioids topping 14,000 annually, this is as much a societal problem as it is an individual one. While governmental bodies determine the best courses of action to combat a growing opioid epidemic, it can leave the victims and their families wondering just what they can do. The answer comes in the form of treatment, one person at a time.

A Vicodin taper is a common, yet efficient, detoxification method. With the help of a Vicodin taper schedule and a team of passionate medical staff to guide one’s way, Vicodin use can be overcome.

How to Taper Off Vicodin | Vicodin Taper Schedule

However, the intent is to not fully stop Vicodin use. At least, not a first. You may have heard of the term “cold turkey” used in reference to drug detox. This is perhaps the most well-known detox method around — which is unfortunate considering it can also be the unhealthiest. When an individual decides to quit Vicodin cold turkey, they are committing themselves to a potentially hellish few weeks. In this time, they will experience the full impact of an opioid withdrawal — among the worst of any drugs besides benzodiazepines and alcohol. Tapering is not about immediately quitting. The practice takes time, patience, and a painstaking strategy to avoid the pains of withdrawal. But the rewards of recovery are worth the effort.

Tapering off Vicodin is more or less weaning oneself off of the drug. It’s not the fastest technique by a long shot, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for in consistency. When physicians are asked how to taper off Vicodin, many will point to tapers as the go-to policy. Besides avoiding cold turkey, Vicodin tapers can sometimes deter a withdrawal outright. Not to mention, the headway that is made gradually reprograms the body to live without Vicodin. It heals itself progressively rather than forcing it into a sink-or-swim ultimatum like going cold turkey.

A physician-approved Vicodin taper schedule prevents or alleviates the following withdrawal:

Flu-like symptoms 

  • Sweating
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Headaches
  • Fever

Psychological symptoms

  • Sweating
  •  Cravings
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Plus, other common side effects such as: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Cramping
  • Spasms
Medical tapers conducted in a rehabilitation facility are far and away the best option for those seeking treatment. Individuals who are prescribed Vicodin may be able to administer an at-home taper with the consent of their physician, though it is not the recommended course of action. Those who use the drug recreationally, however, will find that their greatest hope for success resides under the guidance of trained professionals — not at home. While patients who already have a prescription can lessen their dose whenever their doctor deems necessary, those who use Vicodin recreationally are not afforded that luxury.  Their pill quantities and dosage amounts can vary depending on availability, making a scheduled taper all the more difficult.

Vicodin reduction rates will fluctuate depending on each patient’s individual needs — and these needs can change week by week. Physicians recommend a taper to start off slow: a reduction of 10 percent of Vicodin pills per week should do the trick. Faster tapers can call for reductions as high as 25 percent every few days or so. Though, this is only recommended for patients who do not have an extensive record of Vicodin substance use.

Tapering off Vicodin, like all treatment methods, is often a game of inches — or, milligrams, to be more precise. This means that it is an incremental process. Some days will result in huge strides, while others may have setbacks. Vicodin users must take each day as it is given to them and, in no time at all, they will find themselves on the other end of a taper.


While some may try to taper off of Vicodin or other drugs on their own, it is best performed under the supervision of a trained professional. If you are ready to heal, rehabilitation centers like The Recovery Village offer a safe place for healing. Call 352.771.2700 today to learn more about treatment programs, or to enroll in rehab. for Vicodin abuse

How to Taper off Vicodin
5 (100%) 1 vote