Treatment for Vicodin Addiciton: Therapy and Rehab

Vicodin is a commonly misused and addictive prescription opioid pain reliever developed to treat moderate to severe pain.1 It is a prescription tablet of hydrocodone and acetaminophen—the active ingredient in Tylenol.1 The hydrocodone in Vicodin is a synthetic opioid, which activates the same neuroreceptors as opiate drugs such as heroin.1 Various treatment options are available for Vicodin addiction to help you achieve sustainable sobriety.

In this article:

Signs You May Need Vicodin Addiction Treatment

Vicodin use can rapidly escalate from misuse to addiction, yet it can be hard to recognize addiction, clinically designated as a type of opioid use disorder. Vicodin addiction is characterized by at least two of the following characteristics within a 12-month period:2

  • You take Vicodin in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than was intended when prescribed.
  • You have a persistent desire to or are unsuccessful in trying to reduce or stop your use of the drug.
  • You spend a lot of time trying to obtain Vicodin, using it, or recovering from its effects.
  • You experience cravings for the drug.
  • Your recurrent use of Vicodin prevents you from fulfilling responsibilities at work, school, or home.
  • Your use of Vicodin continues despite having persistent or recurring social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by its use.
  • You give up or reduce important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of Vicodin use.
  • You continue to use Vicodin in situations in which it is physically hazardous to do so, such as in incapacitating amounts while driving a car.
  • Your use continues despite having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the drug.
  • You experience tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
    • A need for markedly increased amounts of Vicodin to achieve pain relief or another desired effect
    • A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the drug
  • You experience withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
    • The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the drug
    • The use of a drug or a closely related substance to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

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Types of Vicodin Addiction Treatment

Because addiction is a brain disease, many people cannot quit on their own. It often takes long-term or repeated treatment to achieve long-term recovery and sobriety.3 In fact, research shows that most people with a substance use disorder need at least 3 months of treatment to greatly reduce or stop their drug use. Effective treatment programs typically offer a variety of strategies to address each patient’s unique needs.


Vicodin detox is the first step on the road to recovery. Due to extreme withdrawal symptoms, many people who use Vicodin cannot safely quit on their own. Medications are often necessary to decrease the severity of withdrawal side effects. Medical supervision during detoxification can ease the process and reduce the odds of relapse.3

Commonly used medications used in opioid detox treatment include:

  • Methadone: An effective and long-acting treatment for helping people detox from opioids, methadone (Diskets®, Methadone Intensol®, Methadose®, and Dolophine®) can only be dispensed by a federally licensed program or medical hospital. This medication helps to reduce opioid cravings and minimize relapse risks.
  • Buprenorphine: A partial opioid, buprenorphine (Belbuca®, Probuphine®, Buprenex®, and Butrans®), is a frontline treatment that is deemed as effective as methadone in Vicodin addiction treatment.
  • Suboxone®: A formulation of buprenorphine that also contains naloxone, Suboxone® blocks the euphoric effects of opioids. Suboxone is considered at a lower risk of misuse than methadone.
  • Probuphine®: An implantable drug that provides a 6-month dose of buprenorphine eliminates the need for daily doses of the medication.
  • Vivitrol®: An injectable suspension of naltrexone, Vivitrol® is administered once a month to block opioid receptors in the brain.
  • Lofexidine: Used for treatment of withdrawal symptoms when opioids are abruptly discontinued, lofexidine (Lucemyra®) is a recently approved class of medication called alpha-2-adrenergic agonists, which help relieve some of the physical pain and anxiety associated with opioid detox.
  • Clonidine: Used as an off-label treatment for opioid withdrawal, clonidine (Catapres®) is similar to lofexidine but can cause low blood pressure, which means your doctor may carefully consider your medical history before prescribing it.

Licensed substance use specialists gradually reduce the dosage of these medications and stop administration of them when your body no longer needs them. Detox is the first phase of treatment and should be followed by additional treatment methods to facilitate sustainable sobriety.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is a type of addiction treatment where you reside at a rehabilitation facility full-time while receiving supervised and highly structured care. After you enter inpatient drug rehab, you become a full-time resident of the program and receive targeted care and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You receive frequent and intensive counseling sessions and your recovery plan may be formulated to also address other issues (e.g., social and medical needs).

One benefit of inpatient treatment is that it creates distance between yourself and the home environment in which your opioid use disorder developed. Removed from distractions and stressors, you may be better able to focus on your recovery efforts. Your treatment stay could range from weeks to months, depending on the type of program. For instance, the therapeutic community model of care involves a prolonged treatment stay of around 6 to 12 months and emphasizes readjusting to life outside of a hospital setting. This structured program provides you with counseling designed to replace maladaptive beliefs and behaviors with healthy ones. You will also learn to socialize with others in more constructive ways, and you may receive employment or educational training.3

Inpatient rehab is appropriate if you:3

  • Experience constant or persistent urges to use Vicodin
  • Have a difficult time showing up to group sessions on your own
  • Need more structured and monitored treatment
  • Require treatment for multiple disorders or mental health conditions
  • Need medical attention
  • Have polysubstance addiction
  • Want to avoid triggers

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Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient rehab programs offer flexible treatment options so you can live at home and fulfill your regular responsibilities.3 You are required to check into treatment at your scheduled times for counseling and/or medication.

Outpatient programs come in various formats and offer an array of services, but typically involve individual and group counseling and education, and provide a network of support. Most programs use a step-down approach, which means sessions become less intensive and frequent as you make progress. These programs will help you overcome your Vicodin addiction and continue in long-term recovery.3

Outpatient treatment is an ideal option for people who:3

  • Are motivated to stop using Vicodin
  • Have a robust sober support system
  • Have an opioid use disorder that is classified as “mild”
  • Exhibit a strong will to succeed in recovery
  • Have a committed, disciplined approach to treatment

Outpatient treatment programs fall into the following categories.

Day Programs

Outpatient day programs have the highest level of care and structure provided within an outpatient setting. In a day program, you commit to meeting five to seven days per week at an outpatient facility for multiple hours each day. You participate in therapy sessions, group counseling, biofeedback, and other therapies, such as art or music therapy. You can return home after each session, either to your family or a sober living home.3

Intensive Outpatient Programs

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) establishes a treatment plan with defined, measurable milestones. As milestones are met, the time commitment required decreases. IOPs are an excellent option if you are serious about abstaining from Vicodin but still need to work and perform daily responsibilities. You attend multiple sessions for a few hours each week for counseling sessions, group therapy, relapse prevention education, and attendance in a 12-step or similar recovery support group.3

Structured Doctors’ Visits

You might receive treatment through weekly doctor visits, receiving medication such as Suboxone® to help you avoid relapse due to cravings for Vicodin. Medication-assisted treatment is the combination of medication with ongoing behavioral therapy, which may occur in another setting.3

Continuing Care

Continuing care groups are ongoing support resources to help you solidify your commitment to sobriety. A licensed counselor typically facilitates weekly groups. Some groups may be gender – or age-specific, while others may focus on a particular aspect of recovery.

Therapies for Vicodin Addiction Treatment

Vicodin addiction treatment commonly involves group and individual therapy that teaches the skills to maintain sobriety and navigate challenging situations without turning to Vicodin.

Behavioral therapies are the most utilized type of treatment for addiction.3 Behavioral therapeutic approaches include a variety of practical techniques, such as: 3

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT techniques support you in recognizing and changing maladaptive thought patterns that lead to undesirable behaviors, as well as developing coping skills, identifying risky situations, and preventing relapse.
  • Contingency Management (CM): CM is used to encourage and reinforce sobriety. This treatment method provides rewards as motivation for desirable behaviors, such as attending group therapy sessions and meeting recovery milestones. As a result, CM reduces drop-outs and relapse.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): MI addresses any ambivalence or uncertainty you may feel so you can fully embrace your treatment efforts. MI helps you develop a plan for change over several sessions, increasing motivation and giving you a greater sense of control.
  • Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT helps people in recovery reduce cravings, avoid situations that place them at risk for relapse, give up substance use-related behaviors, and learn healthy coping skills.
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT): REBT helps you understand your thoughts and think in more positive and sensible ways in order to develop healthier habits.
  • Matrix Model: This method involves a combination of therapeutic techniques, focusing on rewarding positive behaviors and teaching you to believe in your own capabilities. Relapse prevention, family and group counseling, drug education, and self-help participation are emphasized.
  • 12-Step Facilitation: 12-Step facilitation therapy promotes continued abstinence through 12-Step peer support groups.

Alternative therapies can be used in conjunction with evidence-based treatment modalities to improve recovery outcomes. Though these techniques are not a substitute for substance misuse treatment programs, they can support recovery through managing stress and enhancing overall well-being.

Holistic interventions include:4

  • Exercise: Physical activity reduces stress and can help release uncomfortable emotions.
  • Meditation: Meditation and mindfulness practices can positively impact anxiety, depression, and overall health. Some studies indicate that consistent meditation practices can reduce perceived pain levels over time, which can also be helpful if your Vicodin addiction is related to chronic pain or permanent injury.
  • Yoga: Yoga comes in various forms, from gentle practices that focus on breathing and relaxation to others that are more strenuous. Yoga can help you reduce stress and tension and feel more self-aware and peaceful. Targeted yoga poses and stretching can also be part of your pain management plan.
  • Massage therapy: This treatment reduces physical tension and can help you manage withdrawal symptoms, as well as any chronic pain you experience.
  • Experiential therapies: Activities include art, music, animal- and equine-assisted therapies, which are shown to have emotional benefits.

Recovery Support After Vicodin Addiction Treatment

For people in recovery, life after treatment programs should be a time of continued progress toward long-term sobriety. Continuing support is necessary to avoid relapse, which is common with opioids like Vicodin because of their addictive nature.

After rehab, you have many options for continuing support, including:3

  • Sober living homes: Sober living homes offer an alternative to going from an immersive care environment directly to an unstructured home environment. Because sober living homes replicate everyday life situations while instilling healthy habits, they help reduce relapse.
  • Outpatient therapy: Individual counseling in an outpatient setting allows you to delve deep into why you have certain emotions or may have misused Vicodin as a maladaptive coping mechanism.
  • Check-ups: To promote accountability, it is essential to have regular check-ups with a mental health professional to make progress and stay on course. This mental health professional may be your outpatient therapist or a member of your inpatient rehab care team.
  • 12-step programs: The 12-step method relies on admitting powerlessness and relying on a higher power. These programs also include admitting wrongdoing and assuming responsibility for arming others. Many 12-step programs are available, tailored to religious style, personal, and cultural values. One of the best-known 12-step programs geared to overcoming Vicodin addiction is Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
  • Alternative support groups: Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is a growing alternative to conventional 12-step groups. The program is based on research-proven methods that teach you to build and maintain the motivation to change, cope with urges to use drugs, manage your thoughts and feelings to avoid addictive behaviors, and live a balanced, healthy life.9 Alternative peer support groups are available for specific demographics, such as members of the LGBTQ community and specific racial and ethnic identities.
  • Building a daily routine: Routines provide you with a structure that prevents boredom and reduces thoughts about using drugs. Keeping a regular sleep schedule, attending support groups, integrating regular movement, and developing hobbies can create stability in your life.

Recovering from Vicodin addiction can be a complex, multi-step process that requires that you receive several types of help from professionals, peers, and loved ones. If you are concerned about your Vicodin use, call 800-934-1582(Who Answers?) for 24/7 help.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Opioids.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—DSM 5.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: a research-based guide (third edition).
  4. Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Learning Network. (2019). Explore holistic therapies in addiction treatment. Addiction Professional.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Treatment approaches for drug addiction.
  6. SMART Recovery. (n.d.) About SMART Recovery.

the Take-Away

Vicodin is a commonly misused and addictive prescription opioid pain reliever developed to treat moderate to severe pain.1 It is a prescription tablet of hydrocodone and acetaminophen—the active ingredient in Tylenol.1 The hydrocodone in Vicodin is a synthetic opioid, which activates the same neuroreceptors as opiate drugs such as heroin.1 Various treatment options are available …