ClickCease Dangers of Smoking Vicodin | Granite Recovery Centers

Dangers of Smoking Vicodin

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021

James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Vicodin is a semi-synthetic opioid that contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Semi-synthetic opioids come from natural opioids, such as morphine and codeine. Acetaminophen is a drug that was created to relieve pain and reduce fevers.

Vicodin is a pain reliever that physicians prescribe to relieve severe pain. It is often prescribed after patients have had surgery or were injured.

Hydrocodone is classified under schedule II of the Schedules for Controlled Substances. Therefore, this drug has been determined to present a high potential for abuse by users, and it also is very likely to lead to serious psychological or physical dependence.

When people misuse Vicodin, the biggest concern is that they will overdose on the drug. Therefore, the medical community advises patients to have naloxone available when they are taking opioid products.

What Is Naloxone?

Naloxone is a medication that can immediately reverse an opioid overdose. As an opioid agonist, naloxone binds to opioid receptors, and this blocks the ability of opioids to do so. This is a fast-acting medication that can cause the person to quickly begin breathing normally again. It will even work if the person has stopped breathing entirely in some cases. For the best results, people must take this medication when the symptoms of overdose first begin.

Symptoms of overdose on hydrocodone include the following:

  • Seizures
  • The inability to wake up
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Blue, clammy or cold skin
  • A slowing heartbeat or a heartbeat that has stopped
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Stopped, shallow or slow breathing
  • Smaller or larger pupils

Hydrocodone works on the central nervous system to change the way that the user perceives pain, and acetaminophen works to relieve the pain.

Liver Damage With Consumption of Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen

The danger associated with acetaminophen is not related to addiction or dependence. The danger for those taking acetaminophen is the fact that it causes liver damage. The damage can be severe enough to require the person to need a liver transplant if the person takes too much. It can also cause death.

In addition to physical dependence, addiction, and overdose, there is also the possibility of liver failure.

What Is Liver Failure?

Liver failure is a condition that can be deadly, so it requires immediate medical attention. In most cases, liver failure occurs over several years after people use too much medication. As the person uses too much acetaminophen over the years, the liver becomes damaged and is unable to work as well as it did in the past.

The liver can succumb to this damage in a rapid manner in what is known as “acute liver failure.” This occurs when people take large doses of acetaminophen. With this condition, the liver begins to stop working in days or weeks.

The Effects of Vicodin

Vicodin comes as a tablet, syrup, or capsule that must make its way through the body until it reaches the brain. That’s when the medication’s effects can occur, but it usually takes about 15 minutes. It takes about 60 minutes for the person to experience the full effects of the medication, but this is too long for some people to wait.

People have discovered ways that Vicodin can begin to work more quickly. One way to do this is to crush the pills, form a solution, and smoke the solution or inject it into their veins.

How Do You Smoke Vicodin?

To smoke Vicodin, the user must crush the pills and apply heat to the powder so that the smoke can be inhaled. Inhaling Vicodin in this manner makes it possible for the drug to enter the bloodstream through the nose and reach the brain in a much faster manner than taking a pill.

The result of administering Vicodin in this way is that the drug’s effects do not last as long as they do when people take it in the manner that it was prescribed.

Smoking presents other dangers that taking a tablet does not present. When Vicodin is manufactured, they add fillers and binders to the medication that don’t pose a danger when taken orally. When taken by way of inhalation, the body also inhales these fillers and binders, and it cannot absorb them. Instead, these fillers and binders cause damage to the body.

Other Ways to Increase the Effects of Vicodin

People do not limit themselves to taking Vicodin by simply inhaling it. They look for even more ways that they can enhance the experience they get from taking Vicodin, and one thing they choose to do is combine it with marijuana.

Using Vicodin is likely to cause impairments, but when you combine it with marijuana, you will experience even greater impairments. Marijuana can also cause the Vicodin to work differently.

The Effects Caused by Marijuana

Marijuana is a drug that alters people’s moods, and it causes several short-term effects, including the following:

  • An increase in appetite
  • Difficulties with memory, problem-solving, or thinking
  • Mood swings
  • The altered perception of time
  • The altered perception of your senses

Long-Term Effects

In the long term, you may experience the following effects:

  • Problems with the developing fetus and after the birth
  • Coughing if you smoke marijuana
  • Impaired brain development if the marijuana use begins in the teenage years

Vicodin’s Side Effects

Vicodin also causes several side effects. These include narrowed pupils, itching, rash, difficulties with urinating, dry throat, extreme sadness or extreme happiness, anxiety, unclear thoughts, dizziness, and constipation.

In addition to the side effects listed above, marijuana may cause serious side effects. These include tightness in the chest, low libido, menstrual irregularity, male sexual dysfunction, or breathing that is slow or irregular.

You may also experience diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, loss of coordination, muscle stiffness or twitching, shivering, rapid heartbeat, confusion, sweating, fever, hallucinations, agitation, weakness, and loss of appetite.

Injecting Vicodin

Before you can inject Vicodin, you also need to crush the tablets. After it is in powder form, the user must mix it with water. Then, the user can inject it into a vein or a muscle. This presents the same risks that smoking Vicodin presents, but it also leads to other dangers.

The Dangers of Intravenous Drug Use

Intravenous drug use increases the chances of contracting endocarditis, hyperbilirubinemia, glomerulonephritis, osteomyelitis, HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B.


A person has endocarditis when the heart’s inner lining becomes inflamed. It usually results from an infection or bacteria. One of the most common ways to contract this infection is through intravenous drug use. This infection causes several medical conditions, including blood clots and atrial fibrillation.


Endocarditis also causes hyperbilirubinemia that occurs when bilirubin accumulates in the blood. When the red blood cells break down, it causes an orange-yellow pigment to be released. Ordinarily, the liver will alter it so that it can come out in your stools, but when you have endocarditis, it isn’t released as quickly, and there is a build-up of bilirubin.


Endocarditis may also cause glomerulonephritis. The kidneys contain glomeruli that have tiny blood vessels. These blood vessels’ job is to remove excess fluids from your blood. When these glomeruli are damaged, it can cause your kidneys to malfunction, and this causes kidney failure. This condition is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.


Endocarditis may also cause osteomyelitis that is known as a “bone infection.” This infection can travel to other parts of the body.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus

The human immunodeficiency virus or HIV attacks the immune system. This infection leads to the disease that is known as “acquired immune deficiency syndrome” or AIDS. With proper medical treatment, people infected with HIV can live long and happy lives.

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B virus causes hepatitis B, and you can contract it from a needle that contains the blood of a user with the infection. For some people, this infection may only last a short time, but others may have a chronic condition. Those with the chronic condition are at risk of also contracting liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver. This condition currently has a vaccine that prevents the disease.

Hepatitis C

The hepatitis C virus causes hepatitis C, and you also become infected by contact with the blood of a person infected with hepatitis C. Most hepatitis C infections resulted from the use of intravenous drugs. Around 50% of those with the virus experience the short-term version of the disease, but the other half have a chronic condition. It also causes liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. The medical community doesn’t currently have a vaccine for hepatitis C, but there is a treatment that can cure the condition.

The risk of contracting the viruses listed above is higher when injecting the substance than inhaling it. Although these viruses have treatments or cures, it is not desirable for you or your loved one to be diagnosed with any of these diseases. The best thing is for you or your loved one to enter into a treatment center so that you can stop the drug use. Since it is very likely that you will contract the diseases listed above from intravenous drug use, the way to ensure that you are never diagnosed with these diseases is to overcome your intravenous drug addiction.

Obtaining Treatment for a Substance Use Disorder

Sometimes, people are reluctant to enter a drug treatment center. You may have heard that someone went to rehab and relapsed after leaving the treatment center. Maybe you had that experience, and you don’t think that treatment is going to work for you. The fact of the matter is that drug treatment is an ongoing process, and recovery is a state that you will be in your entire life.

Substance use disorders are like medical conditions. For example, if you are diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor cannot “cure” you, but a physician can manage your disease. If one treatment isn’t working well for someone with diabetes, then the doctor tries another treatment. This is the same thing that you must do when you have a substance use disorder.

Treatment at Granite Recovery Centers

At Granite Recovery Centers, our physicians are trained to treat physical addiction and dependence on several substances. If you need to go through the detoxification process in our drug detox program, this is what you will do first. It is a medication-assisted program in which our physicians prescribe medicines that help you undergo the withdrawal process as comfortably as possible. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

The work of overcoming your psychological addiction begins after the toxins have been removed from your body and you are no longer in danger of experiencing the symptoms of withdrawal. Our therapists will offer you clinical psychotherapy to help you overcome your addiction or dependence.

If you need an inpatient treatment program, we can offer you a 30-day, a 60-day or a 90-day drug rehab program. If you already had treatment in an inpatient treatment facility, we can place you in our aftercare program that will continue your treatment and help you step back into your life again. You will receive the resources and guidance that you need to make sure that you can continue on the road to sobriety.

If you want to give treatment a try, contact us at the Granite Recovery Centers.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.