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Long Term Effects of Vicodin Abuse

Vicodin is a potent opioid that is given as a prescription for moderate and sometimes severe pain. It combines the effectiveness of hydrocodone, and opioid, with acetaminophen, a pain reliever that boosts the effectiveness of hydrocodone. However, long term Vicodin use for chronic pain can cause a state of dependence due to how opioids affect our bodies. Vicodin, as with other prescription opioids, are the drugs that are causing the opioid crisis that America faces. The scope of the problem can be seen with statistics from the CDC showing that around 91 Americans lose their lives daily to opioid abuse. The long term effects of Vicodin abuse are one of the biggest problems that Vicodin abusers face, apart from overdose.

3 Minute Read | Published Jan 19 2024 | Updated Mar 12 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Amber Asher
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Amber Asher
Reviewed by

Opioid Misuse – Long Term Effects of Vicodin Abuse

In this article, we will explore the long term effects of Vicodin on the body and mind to better understand the risks involved.

Damage to the Liver

While opioid abuse can usually lead to liver damage, due to the acetaminophen used to create Vicodin, it adds to the risk. The problem arises from the elevated liver enzymes that occur when higher amounts of the drug are taken regularly. The longer they remain elevated, the more damage occurs.

Loss of Hearing

One of the concerns of long term Vicodin use for chronic pain, which turns into a dependence eventually, is hearing loss. The damage that it can cause to your hearing is often irreversible. High levels of Vicodin abuse such as 15 or more tablets a day can cause a completely loss of hearing in some cases.

Vicodin Effects on the Brain

The Vicodin effects on the brain are a result of how the substance affects breathing. When a person’s brain lacks oxygen for periods of time, there can be extensive brain damage. This is a major concern for someone who experiences an overdose, slowing their breathing down far below acceptable levels. Brain damage can include memory loss, cognitive function issues and drastic personality changes.


The abuse of opioids causes constipation. Chronic constipation is linked to the long term effects of Vicodin abuse. Constipation is easily treatable; however, if left untreated it can cause serious health concern such as hemorrhoids.

Kidney Damage

Due to the acetaminophen present in Vicodin, there is a risk of kidney failure. Heavy use of Vicodin can cause kidney failure in around 8-10 percent of users. When users combine Vicodin with other medications that contain acetaminophen, the risk of kidney damage is increased.

Dependence and Addiction

Perhaps one of the most notable long term effects of Vicodin is dependence and addiction to the substance. What may have started as a way to deal with pain can become an addiction with continued use. Eventually, the use of the medication becomes abuse as the user begins to take it to get a euphoric feeling. When dependence forms, the person cannot properly function without the drug. At this point, all of the long term effects of Vicodin become a real concern as the misuse and abuse of the drug carries on. Such an addiction usually needs professional care at a rehab center to beat.

Damage to the Cardiovascular System

Abuse of Vicodin causes the person’s heart beat to become irregular. With long term abuse, the continuous irregular heart beat can lead to other heart problems. Veins and arteries become stressed and it can lead to a heart attack.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 888-807-0464


bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2020).
"Prescription Opioids DrugFacts."
Retrieved on January 10, 2018
bullet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2020).
Retrieved on January 10, 2018
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2019).
"TIP 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment."
Retrieved on January 10, 2018
bullet National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). (n.d.).
"Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency."
Retrieved on January 10, 2018
bullet Mayo Clinic. (2021).
"Opioid use disorder."
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bullet American Psychiatric Association. (2013).
"Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing."
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bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2018).
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