Vicodin Drug Class
As part of two drug classes, Vicodin® (hydrocodone/APAP) contains two different medicines, hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
The hydrocodone component is a semi-synthetic narcotic, opioid pain reliever. It 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 medications; it is not available alone.
The acetaminophen component in Vicodin is a pain reliever and fever reducer. Combining hydrocodone with acetaminophen helps improve the effectiveness of acetaminophen at relieving pain and may limit the abuse potential of hydrocodone (the maximum dose of Vicodin is limited by the acetaminophen content). Make sure to carefully monitor your acetaminophen intake (including acetaminophen from other sources) while taking Vicodin in order to avoid toxicity.
As a combination drug, Vicodin is approved to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. It is commonly used to treat short-term pain due to an injury, surgery, or dental procedure. Occasionally, it is used to treat chronic pain, migraines, or other types of recurring, long-term conditions that cause pain. It is often used (or rather, abused) inappropriately, as it contains a narcotic drug.
(Click Vicodin Uses for a more in-depth look at this pain medication, including how it works, whether it is safe for use in children, and possible off-label uses.)