Vicodin is a brand name combination of the drugs Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen. Vicodin is prescribed by doctors to treat patients with severe pain.  Knowing the potential side effect of Vicodin before taking the medicine can be helpful!

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a very strong pain killer. It is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opiate which helps with the pain relief. However, it is important to note that any opiate substance has the risk of leading to dependency, withdrawal, or addiction.  Acetaminophen is a substance that reduces fever and is a mild pain reliever.

Side Effects

Some side effects of the drug are intentional. These include:

  • Less feeling or perception of pain
  • Euphoria-like feelings (some describe this as a high)
  • Relaxed or calm feelings
  • Suppression of cough

Vicodin can also cause undesired side effects.  These include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Body or muscle weakness
  • Impaired judgement or confusion

Some other side effects are less common, but can cause long term medical issues. These side effects may occur in people with preexisting medical conditions or if the drug interacts with another substance (other drugs or alcohol) that is shouldn’t. These side effects include:

  • Liver complications
  • Troubled breathing, decreased lung function, or partial collapse of airways
  • Allergic reactions
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Vision issues

Side Effects of Withdrawal

Withdrawal is the body’s response to no longer receiving the substances in a drug. The body responds this way as it becomes mentally or physically dependent on the drug. This can occur even when the medication was taken exactly as directed by a doctor, and is especially common in painkilling medications like Vicodin. Due to this, doctors will often prescribe a plan to help patients ween off of the medication by gradually reducing the dosage. Withdrawal symptoms are not typically life threatening, but can be more damaging to individuals with certain medical conditions. If you or a loved one are feeling extreme discomfort from any withdrawal symptoms, seek the guidance of a medical professional.

Possible withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Mood swings, often characterized by anxiety or irritability
  • yawning and insomnia
  • runny nose and other cold-like symptoms
  • sweating and chills
  • muscle aches and cramps
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting

Symptoms of Addiction or Overdose

Vicodin, as an opioid, can be highly addictive.  Addiction means that a person compulsively continues taking the drug, regardless of any negative consequences. The combination of the “high” the drug causes and difficulties of withdrawal can cause someone to become especially susceptible to addiction.  If taken in an unsafe matter at too high of a dose, a person can overdose on Vicodin.  Signs of this can include:

  • Seizures
  • Bloody, cloudy urine or a sudden decrease in urine
  • Sweaty, cold and clammy skin
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Extreme drowsiness, decrease responsiveness or consciousness
  • Chest pain, discomfort, or slow/irregular heartbeat
  • Low or no blood pressure or pulse
  • Not breathing
  • Unpleasant breath odor


If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, please call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.  Overdose on Vicodin can lead to coma or death.


If a doctor has prescribed this pain killer, he or she has made the assessment that the benefits of Vicodin outweigh the potential side effects.  When taken as directed, Vicodin is very helpful in treating severe pain. However, this drug can be dangerous is not taken under doctor supervision.  If someone takes too much of the drug, or takes the drug without prescription, potentially deadly results can occur.  If you or someone you know is struggling with any of the side effects listed above, please seek medical attention immediately.   If addiction is a potential concern, rehabilitation centers care great resources to provide the knowledge, support, and treatments necessary.