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How Does Vicodin Work?

Vicodin® (hydrocodone/APAP) is a prescription medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain in adults. It is a combination medication, as it contains two active ingredients -- hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen. Many people may wonder, "How does it work?"
Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic, opioid pain reliever that acts similarly to codeine. Hydrocodone is effective at decreasing pain and relieving coughing, but also causes drowsiness, mood changes, and mental "clouding." In the United States, hydrocodone is only available in combination with other medications; it is not available alone.
Acetaminophen ("APAP") is a pain reliever and fever reducer commonly found in non-prescription medications such as Tylenol®. "APAP" is an acronym for one of the chemical names for acetaminophen.
By combining hydrocodone with acetaminophen, it helps improve acetaminophen's effectiveness at relieving pain and may limit the abuse potential of hydrocodone, as the maximum dose of Vicodin is usually limited by the acetaminophen content.
(For more information on Vicodin and how it works, click Vicodin. This article provides a complete overview of the drug, including information on its uses, general precautions, and potential side effects.)
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