Side Effects Of Vicodin (Hydrocodone & Acetaminophen)

Vicodin comes with a variety of side effects that range from mild to life-threatening

Vicodin is an opioid prescription drug and the brand name for the combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone bitartrate.

Hydrocodone is an opioid pain medication while acetaminophen reduces fever and increases the effects of the hydrocodone.

This combination is used for moderate to severe pain relief. It works by attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain and changing how the body responds to pain

But despite the good it does, Vicodin also comes with a number of serious side effects and can lead to dependency and addiction.

Side Effects Of Vicodin

Vicodin comes with a variety of side effects that range from mild to life-threatening. Whether you have a prescription from a doctor or are abusing the drug, some of the most common side effects include:

  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • nausea/vomiting
  • drowsiness/sleepiness
  • lightheadedness
  • breathing problems
  • stomach pain
  • muscle pain
  • difficulty urinating
  • yellowing of skin or eyes
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep despite tiredness
  • foot, leg, or ankle swelling
  • mood changes
  • problems with coordination
  • seizures
  • low blood pressure
  • rapid heartbeat
  • sedation

Harmful Effects Of Vicodin Use

Besides the many side effects associated with Vicodin, the pain reliever also comes with a number of risks. These can potentially be long-term and at times, irreversible.

Drug Interactions

Vicodin should not be mixed with many other drugs or prescription medications. It can create very serious side effects like shallow breathing and severe drowsiness.

Drugs that should not be mixed with Vicodin include:

  • other opioid painkillers
  • other over-the-counter pain relievers/analgesics like ibuprofen
  • cough suppressants like codeine or oxycodone
  • alcohol
  • marijuana
  • benzodiazepines such as alprazolam and carbamazepine
  • muscle relaxants like carisoprodol or cyclobenzaprine
  • antihistamines like cetirizine or diphenhydramine

Let your doctor or healthcare provider know if you are on any of these medications or supplements.

Allergic Reaction

As with most drugs, there is also a chance you’re allergic to the ingredients in Vicodin. It’s pretty rare, but it can cause an intense reaction. The symptoms of an allergic reaction to Vicodin include:

  • rash
  • itching/swelling
  • severe dizziness
  • hives
  • trouble breathing

Tolerance & Addiction

The FDA classifies Vicodin as a Schedule III drug. This means it has its medical purposes but it also has a potential for abuse. Drug abuse can directly lead to tolerance and addiction.

If you use Vicodin in high doses or for a long period of time, there is an increased risk of building up a tolerance to the drug. This means you need to take higher and higher doses to get the same effect you used to get with a smaller dose.

Building a tolerance can lead to an addiction which makes it difficult to stop taking the drug even with warnings from doctors, family, and law enforcement.

Liver Damage

One of the more serious long-term effects of Vicodin abuse is liver damage. This is due to the acetaminophen in Vicodin. The abuse of it can erode the lining of the liver and lead to liver damage, liver disease, and even liver cancer.

When Vicodin is combined with alcohol, the liver can also wear down due to the number of toxins it must filter out of the body.

Kidney Damage

The acetaminophen in Vicodin can also negatively affect the kidneys as well. If Vicodin is abused, the acetaminophen can damage the kidneys so much that dialysis may be needed to keep them running properly


Vicodin is not recommended for people who are breastfeeding as it can transfer into breast milk and, ultimately, to the baby. It’s unclear what the side effects of a baby ingesting these drugs are, but it’s recommended to stay away from the drug during this time.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Once someone has developed a tolerance, a dependency, or an addiction, quitting Vicodin is difficult. One of the reasons for the difficulty is that once you stop taking it, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can occur.

Vicodin withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • restlessness
  • trouble sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • cold sweats
  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • rapid breathing
  • runny nose
  • fever

To learn about our outpatient programs for opioid/opiate addiction, please contact our helpline today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

©2024 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

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