Can You Smoke Vicodin?

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on January 5, 2023

Smoking Vicodin is a dangerous way to ingest the opioid painkiller. It can lead to respiratory issues, lung irritation, and increased risk of addiction, dependence, and overdose.

Vicodin is a semi-synthetic opioid that consists of the prescription opioid hydrocodone and the pain reliever acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol). It is typically used to treat moderate to severe pain and can also be found under the brand name Lortab.

Unfortunately, the prescription medication is also widely abused, including by smoking. Smoking Vicodin can lead to a number of serious health issues including overdose, lung issues, and addiction.

Effects Of Smoking Vicodin

Many people start smoking Vicodin because they believe it’s safer than snorting, plugging, or injecting it. 

The drug is smoked by crushing the pills, applying heat to the powder, and then smoking it. From there, it goes directly to the brain. When it hits the brain, the drug binds to the opioid receptors in the central nervous system and blocks the pain signals from the body to the brain.

The result is a much more intense high but the effects of Vicodin last for a shorter period of time. 

Additionally, when taken orally, the drug goes through the digestive system before it hits the brain, and can take up to 30 minutes. When smoking Vicodin, it goes directly to the respiratory system and the brain. The drug is not broken down or metabolized, so you get the full dose

Vicodin is also made with many fillers and binders. When inhaling these, they can build up in your respiratory system over time and cause all types of adverse effects.

Side Effects Of Smoking Vicodin

Smoking Vicodin can lead to a number of side effects and they can range in intensity from mild to severe:

  • lung, nose, and throat irritation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • nervousness
  • stomach upset
  • muscular weakness

Risks Of Smoking Vicodin

Beyond the side effects, there are also many risks and dangers that come with smoking Vicodin, including an increased risk of respiratory damage, liver damage, and opioid overdose.

Respiratory Issues

Long-term respiratory issues are one of the main concerns when it comes to smoking Vicodin. 

Inhaling the drug can increase the risk of long-term lung damage, lung infections, and damage to the tissues in the esophagus. This can affect how well you breathe and how your respiratory system functions overall.

Liver Damage

Acetaminophen has been found to be very harmful to the liver as it releases dangerous byproducts when the liver processes the drug. 

Taking too much acetaminophen can lead to damage of the liver tissue. If acetaminophen is abused long-term, scarring or cirrhosis of the liver may occur. If the scarring worsens, it can ultimately lead to liver failure and the need for a transplant.

Dependence & Addiction 

Vicodin is a Schedule II controlled substance because it includes the opioid hydrocodone. This Schedule II classification means the drug has a high potential for abuse and can lead to both psychological and physical dependence and substance use disorder.

With physical dependence, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as intense cravings and nausea, when you stop using. With Vicodin addiction, you may continue to use opioids despite harmful consequences in your life. 

Opioid Overdose

Smoking Vicodin also increases the risk of overdose which can be fatal if left untreated. Because smoking Vicodin can create such a short-term high, you may take it again and again to feel that same euphoria and accidentally overdose.

In Ohio alone, there were 415 unintentional semi-synthetic opioid overdose deaths in 2020.

Some of the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose can include:

  • slow breathing
  • bluish color to lips and/or fingernails
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • small pupils
  • weak pulse
  • slow heart rate
  • severe drowsiness
  • coma

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of a Vicodin overdose, seek emergency medical help immediately. 

Due to the prevalence of opioid overdoses, many healthcare providers tell their patients to have naloxone (Narcan) on hand. It can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or opiate/opioid addiction and looking for treatment in Ohio, Ohio Recovery Center is here to help. 

We offer a variety of addiction treatment options including detox, inpatient drug rehab, medication-assisted treatment, and aftercare support.

To learn more, please call our helpline today.

  1. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Hydrocodone Combination Products
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus— Opioid intoxication
  3. Ohio Department of Health — 2020 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (419) 904-4158