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What Is the Potential for Vicodin Abuse?

Vicodin is a commonly abused drug. It is readily available and inexpensive, especially in generic form. It is important to distinguish between actual abuse of the drug and a physical dependence on the drug. Healthcare providers can have difficulty distinguishing behaviors associated with inadequate pain control from drug-seeking behaviors associated with abuse. Because Vicodin is a highly desired drug of abuse, people often obtain it through illegal means, such as from foreign countries or online sources that do not require a prescription. People who abuse Vicodin and suddenly stop using it are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.
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When and How Do I Take It?

General considerations for when and how to take Vicodin include the following:
  • The medication comes in tablet form. It is taken by mouth, usually every four to six hours as needed for pain.
  • It is either taken "as needed" or on a scheduled basis. "As needed" means you will only take a dose if you are experiencing pain (if you are not in pain, you will skip the dose), while "scheduled use" means you should take it on schedule, even if you are not in pain. Most healthcare providers prescribe Vicodin on an "as needed" basis, rather than a scheduled basis.
  • It is best to take it with food, as this may help reduce stomach upset.
  • Be careful not to exceed the maximum recommended daily dose, as this could lead to overdose symptoms or to poisoning from the acetaminophen component, which can cause liver failure.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Do not increase your dose without your healthcare provider's approval. Do not suddenly stop taking it, especially if you have taken it regularly for more than several weeks (see Vicodin Withdrawal).
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Vicodin ES Tablet Information

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