Long Term Effects of Vicodin

Vicodin is a opiate pain reliever, and it is a brand name of the drug hydrocodone. There are other brands of hydrocodone, but Vicodin is the most commonly prescribed, and it is a mixture of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Opiates like Vicodin can be highly addictive, and there is a variety of potential long term effects from Vicodin use.

Long Term Effects of Vicodin on the Body

One of the most serious long term effects of Vicodin is liver damage. Acetaminophen in higher-than-recommended doses can begin to cause liver damage. Because Vicodin contains acetaminophen, there is the risk of liver damage, disease, and failure from long term Vicodin use, especially when taken in high daily doses.

Other long term effects of Vicodin can be related to the method a person uses to take the drug. Some people who use Vicodin to get high will snort or inject it. Snorting Vicodin can result in damage to the nasal passageways and potential loss of the sense of smell. Injecting Vicodin can lead to infections and permanent scarring at injection sites.

While uncommon, it is also possible to experience hearing loss from long term Vicodin use. Some people may also have an increased risk for arthritis.

Long Term Effects of Vicodin on the Brain

Vicodin affects a person’s brain in its pleasure center. Vicodin increases a person’s ability to feel pleasure, and it can cause a person to feel happy and euphoric. Long term effects of Vicodin can include damage to the pleasure center. This can lead feelings of depression, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis, and mood swings. People may feel irritable or anxious, and in severe cases they may begin to experience delusions or hallucinations.

Other Long Term Effects of Vicodin

Vicodin is a drug that’s easy to become physically dependent on. If a person becomes addicted to Vicodin, they can experience all the long term effects that are associated with addiction, such as problems with relationships, work, money, school, or the law.

When a person becomes addicted to Vicodin, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they are not taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, joint and muscle pain, irritability, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating.

The more a person takes Vicodin, the higher their tolerance for the drug will become. A higher tolerance means it will be necessary to take a higher dosage in order to feel the same effects, and a higher dose will increase the risk of long term physical and mental effects.

Factors Influencing Long Term Effects of Vicodin

The more Vicodin a person takes and the more often they take it will directly influence the severity of long term effects that they experience. A person’s body chemistry, weight, and any pre-existing conditions can also make a significant difference. If a person has pre-existing depression or anxiety, the long term effects of Vicodin on the brain can be more evident. If a person has liver damage or liver disease, Vicodin is more apt to cause liver failure or death.


Darlene - November 2, 2013.

Everyone of your long term effects assume the person is going to abuse the medication. The side effects of this drug is far less then most drugs on the market. Almost any medication can damage the liver. If this drug allows you to live a happy and fulfilling life why not? Only people who are not in chronic pain can not see the value in a medication that works. My biggest fear would that you would someday become immune to its effects.

maria - February 8, 2014.

I have been on a consistent dose for chronic pain for several years. I have never abused the drug. It seems as if it is assumed every patient will abuse it. Some of us with a evere pain can use it responsibly

C___n - February 19, 2014.

I agree with Darlene and Maria. I have had two back surgeries and suffered with chronic pain for 10 years. At that time there was no light at the end of my tunnel. I took vicodin everyday, four times a day for two years. SLOWLY my injured nerves started to heal. When I felt I could wean off, I never had a problem because I had used it for real pain and did not abuse it. Today I only need vicodin as needed when the pain increased due to some activity I have been doing. The doctors wanted to get me on anti depressants. I said, "I am not depressed, I am in pain, get rid of the pain and I won't be depressed!" Taking this med for real pain was a breath of fresh air for me. When I took it to ease the pain, I could think, walk, even smile and feel hopeful. The addiction issue was not an issue when it came time to wean off because I used it out of necessity.

Another Darlene - April 27, 2014.

I have been taking generic Vicodin since June 2013: 10-325, 3 times a day, 4 times if we go out to dinner and dancing on a weekend. I am very worried about long term effects; however, my chronic pain is so consuming I am in tears daily. The pain is in my hamstrings of all places! I have had 2 rounds of physical therapy, acupuncture, injections, 2 massages daily by my husband, counseling for pain management and treatment for depression. No wonder I'm depressed! The Vicodin only takes the edge off and I fear the long term effects. Any advice anyone?

steve - May 25, 2014.

I am a Vietnam vetran. The VA has prescribed me Vicodin for 10 years. I take 8 - 500 mg. pills a day. I have been taking it for at least 6 years now. I am now 64 years old and do not have any bad side effects from it. I do not see any harm in taking meds for real pain. I hope this helps you feel at ease.

Sandy - June 6, 2014.

I agree with all of you! I have had chronic pain for 14 years and have been taking Vicodin for at least 12 years, if not more. I started with the 5/550 dose, then progressed to 10/660 after about 2 or 3 years. I was just switched to 10/325 a few months ago, but also take Morphine Sulphate once at night, and sometimes Dilaudid when the pain is just so unbearable I just can't stand it. I am a little concerned, though, that for probably 4 or 5 years, I was taking the strongest dose up to 8 times a day until both my doctor and my pharmacist said I should not be taking more than 5 or 6. Since Vicodin is fast acting, I now break them in half so I can still take them 8 to 10 times a day without overdoing it. I also heard that they have now developed a slow-release Vicodin. Anyone know anything about that? My chronic pain is so complex that I really need something powerful that will keep me at a level balance throughout the day and especially at night. I wake up with a migraine and throbbing feet (tarsal tunnel and neuropathy in both), and once I'm up, on comes the back pain (herniated disc) and the intense all-over pain of fibromyalgia. And if I do anything physical, my arthritis flares up. Every joint that is arthritic is from some form of exercise accident....knee replacement from being tripped while roller skating on cement, shoulder from falling on uneven sidewalk, fingers from bowling, ankle from hiking and horseback riding, the other knee from bike accident, chest from allergies from being outside, tarsal tunnel in both feet from water aerobics. Sure, I've been depressed, but definitely not from Vicodin. It's from not having any of my family or friends down here, being disabled and Social Security doesn't believe me, and not being able to do the things I used to be able to do. All of us with chronic pain know what hell it is, and those who have never experienced it need to shut up and respect us who are suffering and have to listen to all the snide comments from those who think we are just looking for attention. I would switch places with a pain-free person in a heartbeat! Hurray for Vicodin!!

Bob Rozelle - June 28, 2014.

I have been taking Vicodin for 2 1/2 years to treat severe bone pain. I have MGUS and the Hematologist says that that is no symptoms to MGUS. I bet to disagree with him. The pain is unbearable at times. I need that break from the pain even for a short period of time.

Dana Archer - July 18, 2014.

I am 74 years old and have taken vicoden for 19 years (10/325). I have had two surgeries for sciatic and arthritis pain and neither were helpful. It is most insulting at times to be referred in general as an abuser by the media or by the medical community. I have never exceeded the original dosage of 6 pills per day, and am grateful for the relief from pain which allows me to live an active life.

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