- They are opioid-based analgesic pain relievers.
- Both contain hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen.
- Acetaminophen is combined with hydrocodone because it significantly increases hydrocodone analgesic effects.
- Manufactured by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals
Other brand names for acetaminophen, hydrocodone combination drugs include;
Each is embossed with M365 M366 or M367. On the other side is groove down the middle for splitting them in half are identical except for the the amount of Hydrocodone;
- M366 contains 325 mg of acetaminophen and 7.5 mg of Hydrocodone
- M367 contains 325 mg of acetaminophen and 10 mg of Hydrocodone
Both are listed as Schedule II controlled substances by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency because of their high risk for abuse and addiction.
- The International Narcotics Control Board reported that in 2015, Americans represented about 99.7% of the world’s hydrocodone consumption.
- Between 2007 and 2016, the most widely prescribed opioid was hydrocodone (Vicodin).
- In 2016, 6.2 billion hydrocodone pills were distributed nationwide. The second most prevalent opioid was oxycodone (Percocet). In 2016, 5 billion oxycodone tablets were distributed in the United States.
Hydrocodone targets the opioid receptors in the brain.
- Duration of the pills effects is approximately four to eight hours.
- It takes only about 15 to 20 minutes to reach its peak effect.
As tolerance builds for the drug, users will experience longer times to feel its effects and “come down” from a hydrocodone high faster than they once did.
According to the US Department Of Justice:
- “Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opiate in the United States with more than 136 million prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing products dispensed in 2013 and with nearly 65.5 million dispensed in the first six months of 2014.”
People with acute or chronic pain conditions are often prescribed generic Vicodin. They are prescribed for back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, post-operative pain, discomfort after intensive dental procedures, severe migraines and osteoarthritis.
The combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen can cause the following side effects:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Nausea (in some people)
- Abdominal cramps/diarrhea
In some cases, more serious side effects may occur, especially when too many pills are taking in a 24-hour period. These effects include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Allergic reactions (swelling of the tongue, lips and face)
- Hives/itchy rash
- Feeling fearful, depressed and/or anxious
- Sudden mood swings
- Inability to urinate
- Muscle tremors
While acetaminophen is a non-addicting pain reliever, hydrocodone is a narcotic pain reliever with a structure similar to codeine. Both are opiates that are converted to morphine in the liver.
When hydrocodone stimulates opioid receptors, it causes a “rush” of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin to flood the brain. These neurotransmitters activate the “feel good” areas of the brain that give us the euphoric, pleasant sensations indicative of an opioid drug like hydrocodone. If someone abuses or takes this drug for an extended period of time, the brain grows accustomed to having an excess of dopamine and serotonin activating its reward centers. When levels of these neurotransmitters decrease, the brain initiates “cravings” for more of the drug.
It is easy to overdose on generic Vicodin because it interferes with perception of time. In most cases, overdoses happen when the user forgets how many they have taken in what amount of time.
- According to the CDC, from 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids were five times higher in 2016 than in 1999.
As tolerance builds to the drug, pain returns faster than it should, which makes the user think it is time to take another pill. Signs of a possible overdose include:
- Inability to stay awake/unconsciousness
- Excessive perspiration
- Slowed pulse rate/irregular heart beat
- Shallow breathing
- Blood in the urine
- Chest pain
- Clammy skin
If an overdose is suspected, the overdose victim needs immediate emergency treatment to provide supportive care and counteract the toxic level of hydrocodone and acetaminophen in the body.
Treating hydrocodone addiction requires medical detoxification, psychological counseling and medications to help prevent cravings from leading to relapse. People who are addicted to hydrocodone should never attempt to go “cold turkey” due to serious health issues arising from abrupt withdrawal.