The Basics of Vicodin Rehabilitation

This guide was written to provide an overview of the Vicodin rehabilitation process as well as to offer helpful resources for persons recovering from Vicodin addiction.

Upon entering Vicodin addiction treatment, the individual typically has an opportunity to meet with counselors and other staff members. During this initial meeting, the individual works directly with treatment staff to develop a plan to address specific triggers, set appropriate boundaries, and learn effective coping skills. Once this treatment plan is in place, the individual goes through an initial detoxification process, which allows Vicodin to be eliminated from the body as safely as possible. With a medically managed detox, the individual is monitored by medical professionals, making the process safer and more comfortable.

Once Vicodin has been eliminated from the patient’s body, a treatment program typically consists of a combination of therapy with treatment professionals and support from other individuals recovering from addiction. Following discharge, the individual receives ongoing support, which can help with avoiding addiction triggers and preventing relapse.

Four steps of rehab process

What Makes Vicodin Rehabilitation Difficult?

According to the guidelines established by the Controlled Substances Act, Vicodin is a Schedule II substance. Although Vicodin has legitimate medical uses, rates of non-medical use are increasing worldwide. For example, Vicodin and other hydrocodone products are among the most commonly misused prescription opioids in the United States, according to the 2018 World Drug Report. As of 2016, approximately 2.5% of the U.S. population had engaged in misuse of Vicodin and other hydrocodone products within the past year.

It can be difficult to recover from Vicodin addiction because the substance binds with opioid receptors in the nervous system, triggering a rush of dopamine. It’s this rush of dopamine that causes users to feel “high” when they take Vicodin. Over time, the user develops cravings for Vicodin, making it difficult to stop using. Additionally, stopping Vicodin suddenly can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, making it even more difficult to recover from addiction.

The Unique Struggle of Vicodin Addicts
  • floods the brain with dopamine, producing pleasurable effects that encourage the user to continue using the substance even when it’s interfering with work, school, or social obligations.
  • produces undesirable withdrawal symptoms, making it difficult to stop using it.
  • can be difficult to stop using if the individual is taking it as a way to cope with stress.
  • use can lead to tolerance or dependence, prompting the user to take larger doses or take the substance more often.

Vicodin Rehabilitation Statistics

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that:

  • 47.73 million individuals aged 12 and older — or 17.4% of the U.S. population — used hydrocodone products within the past year (2018).
  • 5.502 million individuals aged 12 and older — 2% of the population — were past-year misusers of Vicodin in 2018.
  • 148,647 individuals aged 12 and older in need of treatment enrolled in a rehabilitation program from opiate misuse.

Opioid Treatment Admissions by Gender (Opioids Other Than Heroin)

52.7% Male
47.3% Female

Demographics of Individuals Seeking Treatment for Opioid Addiction

According to a 2017 SAMHSA report that charts admissions to and discharges from publicly funded substance use treatment facilities, men are more likely to seek treatment for opioid abuse, which includes Vicodin. The gender breakdown of treatment admissions for opioids was 52.7% male and 47.3% female. While Vicodin addiction occurs in all age groups, the most common age group admitted to a treatment facility for opioid use was individuals aged 25 to 34, with 35 being the average age of all individuals from all age groups who are seeking rehabilitation.

Opioid Treatment Admissions Percentages by Age Group, 2017 (Opioids Other Than Heroin)
Age at the Time of Treatment Admission Percentage of Opioid Treatment Admissions
12-17 0.4%
18-24 10.4%
25-34 44.9%
35-44 25.4%
45-54 12.1%
55-64 5.9%
65+ 0.9%

Vicodin Detoxification and Withdrawal Process

The Vicodin addiction recovery process typically includes a short-term detoxification process, which is when the substance is eliminated from the user’s body. Vicodin has a relatively short half-life of 3.8 hours, which means about half of it is eliminated from the body in this timeframe. During this initial detoxification process, the user may experience some physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal. Most of the Vicodin should be eliminated within 24 hours, but it may take longer if the individual is a chronic user.

Following this initial detoxification process, it may take several weeks for withdrawal symptoms to cease. When symptoms last longer than two weeks, they are referred to as post-acute withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may last up to a year after the individual stops taking Vicodin. The length of the withdrawal process depends on several factors, including whether the individual was a casual or chronic user and how long the individual has been taking Vicodin.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Body Mind
Short-Term Symptoms Muscle aches
Excessive yawning
Tearing of the eyes
Runny nose
Long-Term Symptoms Nausea
Abdominal cramps
Goose bumps
Dilated pupils
Mood swings

Sources: MedlinePlus

Vicodin withdrawal puts users at risk of sudden death

Although many Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are simply unpleasant, others can be dangerous. The vomiting and diarrhea that sometimes occur during the detoxification process can lead to dehydration, a condition in which the individual has an imbalance of fluid and electrolytes. Dehydration is treatable, but if the individual is unable to call for help, it can lead to dangerously high sodium levels. An extremely high sodium level can cause heart failure and even death.

Stress cardiomyopathy has been linked to opioid withdrawal

Multiple cases of stress cardiomyopathy have been reported in association with opioid withdrawal, causing severe dysfunction of the left ventricle. The left ventricle pumps oxygen-rich blood to the other organs, so any functional impairment can cause heart-related complications or increase the risk for premature death.

Some users experience seizures or seizure-like activity while withdrawing from Vicodin and other opioids

Withdrawing from Vicodin may increase the amount of activity in the brain, resulting in an elevated risk of seizures. Falling while having a seizure can lead to fractures, head trauma, and other injuries, making the withdrawal process even more dangerous.

Vicodin overdose is more likely during the withdrawal process

Some users relapse during the Vicodin withdrawal process, making it more likely that they’ll overdose. The reason the risk of overdose increases is because a user’s tolerance to Vicodin decreases after several days without using the substance. During a relapse, the user may take a large dose of Vicodin, expecting to experience a pleasurable high. The body isn’t used to the higher dose, causing overdose to occur in some users.

Vicodin Detoxification Medications

Supportive medications may be used to relieve the symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal, making users more comfortable during the detoxification process. For individuals who experience insomnia, promethazine and temazepam may be used to induce sleep. Metoclopramide and prochlorperazine are sometimes used to control nausea and vomiting. In some users, quinine sulfate is effective for treating abdominal cramps caused by Vicodin withdrawal; it’s also possible to manage abdominal cramps and diarrhea with propantheline or loperamide. Finally, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to relieve headaches and other pains.

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on Vicodin addiction.

Treatment for Vicodin Addiction

Methadone and buprenorphine have been approved by the FDA to treat addiction to Vicodin and other opioids. Methadone reduces cravings and helps manage withdrawal symptoms, reducing the risk of relapse. Although methadone is effective, it’s not suitable for all Vicodin users. If an individual has respiratory problems, reduced liver function, a head injury, or a history of alcohol dependence, methadone may not be the most appropriate medication for treating opioid addiction. Buprenorphine also reduces cravings; it’s indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe opioid addiction. Due to the way it works, buprenorphine should not be taken until at least eight hours after the individual’s last dose of Vicodin or another opioid. Individuals with diabetes or a history of respiratory problems may not be able to use buprenorphine.

Behavioral therapies are also used in the treatment of Vicodin addiction. Participating in these therapies gives Vicodin users the social support they need to stay sober; working with treatment professionals can also help individuals learn effective coping strategies, reducing the risk of relapse.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full-time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Vicodin Treatment Programs
Setting Type of Treatment Description Duration Time Commitment
Inpatient Short-Term Residential Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Long-Term Residential Intensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-12 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Partial Hospitalization Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Outpatient Intensive Day Treatment Extensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-4 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Counseling Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available. As long as desired Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Support Groups Self-help groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours. As long as desired Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Behavioral and Medication-Assisted Assisted Therapies

Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

Behavioral Therapies for Vicodin Addiction
Type of Therapy Definition
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Further reading:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps Vicodin users develop the skills they need to stay sober while also overcoming the challenges of daily life.

While engaged in CBT, users learn how to identify the triggers that make them more likely to engage in substance use. Users also learn how to replace harmful behaviors with healthy behaviors, reducing the risk of relapse.

12-Step Facilitation Therapy

Further reading:

Some users participate in 12-step facilitation therapy, which involves following the principles of the 12-step programs associated with Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. Therapy typically takes place over 12 to 15 sessions, giving the user an opportunity to learn the 12-step principles and understand how to apply them. Although 12-step facilitation therapy was developed as an individualized approach to addiction, it may be delivered in group settings.

Users participating in 12-step facilitation therapy are expected to attend 12-step meetings regularly. They’re also asked to recognize that addiction is a chronic disease requiring complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Vicodin Addiction

When searching for a Vicodin rehabilitation facility, it’s important to look for a program featuring a medically managed detoxification period. Medical supervision can make the initial detoxification period safer and more comfortable for the user, increasing the likelihood that he or she will complete treatment.

It is also important to look for a Vicodin rehabilitation facility that offers social support and behavioral therapy programs for its participants. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and 12-step facilitation therapy are commonly used in the treatment of Vicodin addiction. While participating in these therapies, the individual will have opportunities to develop better coping skills, receive treatment for co-occurring disorders, and identify potential triggers that may increase the risk of relapse. Building a strong social support network can also help users avoid returning to the habits that led them to develop a Vicodin addiction in the first place.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.