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Hydrocodone vs Vicodin

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What are the differences and similarities between hydrocodone and Vicodin?

Both are pain-relieving semi-synthetic narcotic drugs that are usually taken in tablet or syrup form. They can also be used as cough medicine. Both are also addictive. They work by binding themselves to opioid receptors in the brain – specific areas of the brain that are made to take opioid substances in - and also in the spinal cord.

Vicodin actually contains hydrocodone – in this drug, it’s combined with the painkiller paracetamol. The two substances are combined because paracetamol enhances the effects of hydrocodone, meaning less of the latter drug needs to be used in the combination medication. It’s not yet fully understood how the two drugs work together to do this.

Vicodin is classified as a Schedule III narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which means it has some potential for addiction: hydrocodone is a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a higher potential for addiction than Vicodin. Vicodin’s combination of paracetamol with hydrocodone makes it less addictive, according to the DEA.

As use increases, so does the user’s tolerance: there’s no maximum dose of hydrocodone, although it is possible to overdose. How much is too much depends on the user’s tolerance for the drug. If it’s combined with paracetamol, the user will start to feel ill effects when the dose reaches around 4000mg a day. Because of this risk, some illicit users will only use hydrocodone, not Vicodin, to get high.

It’s possible to become addicted to both hydrocodone and Vicodin. The drugs both make the user feel euphoric, sleepy, warm and/or numb. Withdrawal from both drugs can be extremely difficult; symptoms include sweating, irritability, nausea, physical pain, anxiety and restlessness. Rapper Eminem has spoken many times of his addiction to Vicodin, and many of his songs reference the drug. He’s also been to rehab to break his addiction.