Vicodin, a synthetic opioid narcotic comprised of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, is frequently prescribed for pain. As an opioid, Vicodin changes the way the body responds to pain within the central nervous system. When Vicodin is prescribed long term, the body becomes physically or psychologically dependent on the drug, requiring increasingly higher doses to produce the same effect. Withdrawal from Vicodin, while not life-threatening, mimics flu-like symptoms such as generalized pain, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, fever, chills, tremors, excessive sweating, diarrhea and insomnia. These symptoms may last for several weeks. Withdrawal should always take place under the supervision of a physician.
Gradually reduce Vicodin intake to minimize withdrawal symptoms. When long-term use of Vicodin is stopped suddenly, withdrawal symptoms are triggered within a day. Gradual reduction of the drug will help you to avoid these withdrawal symptoms.
Eat healthy, well-balanced meals even when nauseated. Drink at least 48 ounces of water each day to stay hydrated. Withdrawal symptoms will worsen if you do not eat or drink.
Take herbal supplements such as ginger, valerian root or passion flower to help combat side effects of Vicodin withdrawal. According to Anxiety-and-Depression-Solutions.com, valerian root attaches to the brain's GABA receptors that monitor relaxation and sedation. Passionflower, kava and lavender also have calming properties, while ginger combats nausea. According to PubMed.gov, St. John's wort is just as effective as SSRI antidepressants for use in treating mild to moderate depression that frequently accompanies Vicodin withdrawal. DHEA and SAM-e are also helpful with depression. Prescription antidepressants such as Zoloft or Prozac are recommended for chronic or more severe depression.
Try over-the-counter medications containing doxylamine succinate for help with insomnia. Some of the popular brand name sleep aids are Unisom and Nyquil. Antihistamines such as Benadryl also are helpful with insomnia.
Substitute Vicodin with prescription medications under your doctor's recommendation and supervision. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, are prescribed to treat anxiety during Vicodin withdrawal. Methadone is designed to prevent the brain receptors that respond to Vicodin from recognizing its absence. It also keeps users from experiencing a high during a relapse. Sedatives, such as phenobarbital, calm patients and allow the worst of the physical addiction effects to occur while asleep.