Question regarding hydrocodone (vicodin)

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by MsE, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. MsE

    MsE New Member

    Good morning, All. I am almost 75, have been a member of this board for several years, and have found your comments and advice helpful. Now I'm back with another question.
    I have tried everything under the sun (slight exaggeration) and find the one thing that helps me function reasonably well for at least part of a day is a 1/2 of a 5-500 tablet of hydrocodone. It helps the terrible exhaustion, shortness of breath, and inertia.

    My doctor doesn't seem at all worried about my using it as I don't use it daily. In fact, a prescription lasts me about three months instead of one month. I don't use nearly as much as he prescribed. But, I am uncomfortable using such a strong medication which is actually meant for pain. True, it eases the pain in my legs, but that is not my main reason for using it. The main reason is that it enables me to get some stuff done, to go a few places, to live a reasonably normal life.

    What about the rest of you? What has been your experience with this medication? Comments and advice, please. Thanks, MsE
  2. sunkenhero

    sunkenhero New Member

    here is the response I got from Dr teitlebaum. he sent it to my dr, i guess they are friends
    2- He has codeine responsive fatigue. This is present in ~ 5% of the CFS population, and these patients need the codeine specifically (historically, with poor response to other Rx without the codeine). That he developed the addiction/tolerance is the key problem. In this setting, it is appropriate to use –but needs strict limits (usually maximum of 20-30 mg/day) with no escalation on dose beyond this, and most importantly in his case, alternating between types of codeine (oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine ) to see if we can avoid tachyphylaxis/tolerance. If you feel the Kratom is safe (the legal issues and medical issues seem unrelated), this could also be part of the rotation

    I as well respond very well to these meds but I cannot take them because they always lead to addiction. I am currently trying Kratom as it is a legal herb that can be ordered online and it seems to be helping.
  3. MsE

    MsE New Member

    My doctor has never mentioned switching from hydrocodone to one of the other meds you mentioned. Never heard of Kratom either. You have been extremely helpful. Thank you for posting. "Codeine resonsive fatigue" huh? It even has a name?! Whaddaya know!!!!

    Anyone else?
  4. lvjesus

    lvjesus Member

    I take it for pain, same dose you mentioned with 1/2 twice a day. It works well for my pain if taken with 800 mg of Advil (doc says this is ok), but I HAVE noticed, or thought I noticed, from time to time it did seem to make me feel better in ways other than pain, but not always.

    I just thought it must be more energy/feeling better just because of pain relief, but maybe not. Interesting thought.
  5. Danielle

    Danielle New Member

    I've used this medication for over 8 years and have never increased the dosage. It is this only medication that has relieved my symptoms enough to continue working full time and continue having some form of a life. I only use 1 and a half a day if needed. I would rather function a little than lay in my bed forever, so I have no problem with anyone that needs this medication. The only down fall is that some people want to relieve all the pain all the time. This is where they get into trouble.

  6. Janalynn

    Janalynn New Member

    I wouldn't worry about it. You are on a very low dose and it is certainly helping your quality of life. I say 'live'.

    Without going into a lot of detail, my Mom has been in a situation recently (very painful, immobile actually), her Dr. put her on Norco (vicodin) and he actually said, "we do NOT worry about habituation when it is needed like this" My Mom is 78 yrs old. No way would I see her living in pain as opposed to taking some pain relievers.

    5/500 dose of Vicodin is the lowest you can take. As I said, personally, I wouldn't worry about it, but that's just from my place in life and my point of view. =) If you find that you're increasing your amount that you're taking, not because your pain is getting worse, then I would keep myself in check, but it doesn't sound like you're in any trouble.

    When I started taking Vicodin for my Fibro several years ago I noticed something - for the fist time in 6 years my IBS - D (severe diarrhea) was finally under control. I told my Dr. about it and he said that he had a couple of patients who took a small dose for that purpose. (not that he prescribed) Interesting.
  7. misskoji

    misskoji Member

    I'm glad you posted this, thank you!

    I was telling my cousin (my now full-time caretaker) about this very thing. I get the exact same feeling/affect from vicodin (hydro)and percocet(oxy). It gives me ENERGY, and it makes me feel almost normal for a while. Not every time though, mind you.

    One thing I do want to mention is that we need to be mindful when we take these drugs. When they make us feel better, our normal "limit reminders" are tuned waaaay down. So we don't recognize our swelling, painful glands or aching muscles, or even our energy decrease as easily. So it's important to still figure out how to limit ourselves and not push ourselves into a crash.

    I'd been afraid to tell any doctor about this affect as I thought they would perceive it as an addiction tendancy. Now I know there is a name for it, thank you.

    As the others stated, it sure doesn't sound like you have a problem or anything to worry about.

    [This Message was Edited on 12/06/2009]
  8. kjade

    kjade New Member

    I have been taking it for a couple of months, and it does greatly reduce the pain. I understand what you are saying about feeling like you have more energy. For me, when my pain is down, I am happier, more energetic, and I just feel good. When I am in a lot of pain, I am just miserable and cranky. So for me the little bit I take helps. But not all the time.

    My Dr prescribes 3 pills per day, which I don't take. I only take them when I am in a lot of pain because I fear becoming dependent on the medication, and I don't want it to get to the point where I need more of it to just feel ok. I also fear the damage it could do to my body (liver or other organ damage). I am the same with Xanax that my Dr has been prescribing for many years (for panic disorder). I only take 1/2 a tablet when I know a panic attack is coming on or I am in a situation where I know I will get extremely anxious. And because I only take it then, it does what it is supposed to do. If I took it all the time, I think it would not work when I really needed it to, or I would need more of it to work. Does that make any sense???

    So I feel the same way about Vicodin. And I don't think you need to be worried about your dose MsE. If it makes you feel better and you are able to do things and live a more fullfilled life, then it is totally ok to continue with it. And it sounds like you are just like me - you only take as needed, and that is when it will work as it should.

    My Dr told me I needed to take it 3 times a day so there is a consistent amount in my system - but it just seems like too much to me.
  9. DemonFairy

    DemonFairy New Member

    Who cares if you become physically dependent on your pain meds? Physical dependence doesn't make you a drug addict. People become physically dependent on their anti-depressants and you don't see them rationing their pills because their body will be become physically dependent. (most of you are also physically dependent on caffeine and get withdrawal symptoms if you skip your morning cup of coffee) And to worry about taking HALF of a 5/500 Vicodin is just beyond my comprehension. I take, literally, 8x your dose (of Oxycodone), every four hours. I've been taking it for more than two years. I'm not addicted, it doesn't make me high, it just relieves some of my pain. I do have an abnormally high tolerance for pain meds, and have since I took my second dose (the very first dose of 10mg of Oxycodone made me sick) when I had a herniated disk. However, I've never been worried that taking a high dose of pain meds would make me a drug addict. If you met me, you would never know that I take any pain meds - I function as a completely normal human being. Well, a normal human being who is exhausted most of the time. I almost expect people who don't take any pain meds to needlessly worry about them, but I expect better from those of us who actually take the meds. These panicky posts about pain meds only makes it harder for everyone to get prescriptions.

    Your liver (if you have a normal liver, which I assume you do) is perfectly capable of handling the meds, as long as you don't drink alcohol with your meds.

    My quality of life would be absolutely ZERO without my pain meds, and I'm so tired of people who should know better, worrying about taking a teeny tiny amount of prescription pain meds. Oh, and the person who is taking Kratom because it's "legal"...that doesn't mean that it's better for you. In fact, if you took the hydrocodone or oxycodone alone, without the added *over-the-counter* pain reliever added, your liver would be even safer. It's the aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen that is more damaging to your liver than the hydro or oxycodone. So, just because you can get something without a prescription does NOT mean it's safer for your body. Just like you can OD on alcohol, which is legal, but no one has EVER OD'd on pot, which is illegal.

    "My Dr told me I needed to take it 3 times a day so there is a consistent amount in my system - but it just seems like too much to me."

    Your doctor told you that because it's easier to prevent pain than to stop it after it's already started. A consistent amount in your system, if you're actually in pain, keeps you off the rollercoaster of PAIN...relief...PAIN...relief, etc.
  10. loto

    loto Member

    Hi MsE.
    I take Norco(Hydorcodone) 7.5 mg daily.
    I say if it helps you get things done and have a better quality of life, don't worry about taking it for reasons other than pain.
    So far, it's the only prescription that I've taken that helps me get through the days, also, and if you're only taking that small amount per day, I don't think it will hurt you in any way at all.

    I'm glad you've found a med that helps you out!!!!

  11. loto

    loto Member

    Thank you so much for posting this. I feel the same way you do about prescription pain meds, but never voiced my opinion.
    I have to take 8 tablets of Norco 7.5 per day to keep my pain at a tolerable level, and some days that's not even enough, even though my prescription tells me to not take more. And, I am allowed to get it refilled every 10 days.
    Anyway, that aside, I also agree with and know what you stated about pain being easier prevented than stopped after it's already started, a fact.
    So, I don't worry about taking my pain med anymore, and I don't take the over the counter pain relievers either.

  12. MsE

    MsE New Member

    First of all, I apologize for taking so long in replying to your helpful and reassuring posts. Today is the second anniversary of the death of one of my daughters. Another of my girls, and her husband, came to spend last night and most of today with me. That helped both of us. So that is why I'm late responding.

    Now, as for your posts: all I can say is a major "Thank You!" It is like a tiny bit of hydrocodone unscrambles my brain and puts the plug back in the socket! Then I can get some things done. Today, for instance, my visiting family members and I went Christmas shopping for several hours. Then they helped me put up my Christmas tree. My dear daughter who died from cancer absolutely loved Christmas, so we felt this was a fitting way to spend the day.

    She also loved snow! Late last night we had our first snowfall! So all in all it was a bittersweet day, and I confess the bit of hydrocodone helped me enjoy the parts that were sweet and bear the parts that were bitter.

    Again, thanks to all of you for taking the time to write. Your posts were reassuring. MsE
  13. cynicaldog

    cynicaldog New Member

    MsE, I just wanted to add to the conversation and mention that the reason you feel mental clarity when you take hydrocodone is because it frees your brain from the constant assault of pain impulses. Maybe you aren't completely conscious of all the pain you experience on a daily basis because you've learned to tune it out, but your brain still knows it's there. Your brain invests a huge amount of time processing pain signals that are like constant "white noise" in the background of your life. When you take hydrocodone, your give your brain a break and allow it function normally again.

    I also wanted to add that living with untreated pain can be more harmful to your body over the long term than any potential medication side-effects. I know society often tells us that "toughing it out" and living with pain is an admirable quality, but it can also be damaging. Our cells aren't meant to live in an environment where they're awash in stress hormones on a daily basis, and living with untreated pain can cause permanent changes to your brain and heart, not to mention it can cause poor quality of life and lead to depression. Treating your pain responsibly can actually be healthier in the long run than trying to push through it.

    If anyone is interested, here's a link to an article about how chronic pain can cause permanent changes to the brain: and here's another which mentions that stress hormones like cortisol can lead to heart damage: . The latter article doesn't specifically mention chronic pain as a stress-inducing event, but we all know that it is!
  14. kjade

    kjade New Member

    I am so sorry about your daughter.....this must be a hard time of year for you. I am glad though that you were able to enjoy your day with your family. That must have been very nice for you. I hope you have a wonderful (and pain-free) holiday season!

    I wanted to reply to your post since it seems you are replying to me, as you did quote me. I have to be concerned about addiction because I have a lot of alcoholism and drug addiction in my family, so I do run the risk of becoming addicted to a lot of things. That is my concern about taking ANY medications, not just Vicodin. And my concern about liver damage comes from my Dr who is always telling me about the potential for liver damage with the different medications I am taking. He is always testing my blood to make sure everything is still ok.
    Like I said, I just recently gave in and started taking this medication, so I am not very educated about it - that is why I come here to read and learn from others who know a lot more than I do. I don't think I am "panicky" about it - I am just trying to learn what is best for me at this point. I have tried many, many medications over the course of many years. This is the first time that I have finally had to admit that I do need stronger medication to help with the pain. And I admit it is a little scary for me. I know a lot of people who are “addicted” to this med, and they do not have FM. I know people who will go to the Dr and complain of back pain just to get this med, because it “makes them feel good”. There is a strong stigma attached to this med. Again, I just started taking it, and it does help me. I am able to do more when I'm taking it. And from what I understand, you cannot get just Vicodin (Hydrocodone) alone – it is always mixed with either acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. The one I take is with Ibuprofen. My Dr has assured me that the dose is ok for me to take everyday, but I am still a little concerned about it. Just as I am concerned about all of the medications I take.

    My Dr actually gave me a really hard time about refilling this med (when he is the one who prescribed it in the first place). He originally gave me the RX for Vicodin last year, and then I found out I was pregnant, so I couldn’t take it. It sat in my medicine cabinet all year. Then after the baby was born, I did start taking it, and it made me feel better (I had a lot of severe pain post-partum). But when I went to get a refill, the refills had expired. That is when my Dr gave me a really hard time. His office told me they would call in a refill, but I had to make appts with him once a month, or he would not allow any refills. He had never treated me that way before about any of my other medications. So why this one?

    I don’t see anything wrong with anyone being concerned about what they are taking, and asking questions about it. That is why we are all here. And for some of us, this is all new and unfamiliar territory. Sorry, I just realized I was rambling a lot in this post – I hope it all makes sense.
  15. simonedb

    simonedb Member

    I too function better with an appropriate amount of pain med on board. I tried vicodin once and it workd but it did have side effect of grumpy but I have used darvon/propoxyphene without bad side effects and it helps the pain and the fatigue, seems to help heart and b/p or something so can stay upright longer. Out of every supplement and med I have ever taken it has been hands down the most helpful. I am lucky not to build tolerance, I tend to be a lightweight, although I have increased dose from a half a tablet a day 17 years ago when I first discovered it gave some relief to 2 60mg caps a day--I got rid of the tylenol in it because that has never helped me and I knew it was harder on my liver and kidneys than the actual darvon. Darvon is actually one of the less difficult drugs to detox doesnt hit on a lot in cytochrome p450 system and I am chemically sensitive so this is good.

    I do have mixed feelings about using it because of the stigma but it has kept me working parttime and able to take walks etc I imagine your doctor kjade would prefer you wouldnt take it because docs may feel under more scrutiny with their patients that use these meds due to the people that do abuse them. I saw some crazy docu about all the bogus pain med clinics in FLA and people coming over from kentucky to get them, I think fla finally changed the law on this summer making that more difficult, but the people that use them recreationally ruin it for us chronic pain and fatigue folks. One other thing I can't tell is if my feeling of my IQ getting lower the longer I have this is due just to the cfs or also partly to chronic pain med use, and probably all the other meds I have tried, I will never know, can't do a double blind study. But I think losing a few IQ points is probably worth it to have had more of a life, not having cfs and pain in the first place would have been the ideal, huh....
  16. MsE

    MsE New Member

    One of you wrote that sometimes we are dealing with pain but have blocked it out. However, the brain doesn't block it out and so it is overloaded. Something like that. (Hope I got the message correct.)

    Dealing with pain isn't the main reason I use hydrocodone. I mean, yes--it does help in that department, but it is the extra energy that I really appreciate.

    I confess I am suspicious this is a type of "high" and that worries me. But, if for some reason this medication can supply something that is missing from my brain I'll continue to use it when I have stuff I have to do and I'm feeling inert.

    Simonedb, you mentioned that it enables you to take walks. Exactly! You also mentioned the stigma of this drug. Again, Exactly! I guess that's why I came to this board with my question about it. I find it embarrassing to have to pop a half a hydrocodone tablet in order to go shopping with my kids. On the other hand, if I DO pop that half a hydrocodone tablet I CAN go shopping with my kids. But somehow I don't want anyone to know I'm doing it. With the exception of you folks who truly undertand. MsE
  17. wendysj

    wendysj New Member

    Hi MsE,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. I am happy to hear you took the necessary medicine to have a nice day out with your family.

    I was diagnosed with CFS in 2005... I didn't start taking pain medicine until 2008. At that time I had WAY more issues than just CFS. I tried to last as long as possible to take it. I didn't want to become addicted.

    Vicoden is the only reason I was able to work as long as I did. The mental beating that I was taking from feeling terrible everyday was almost too much. I have been taking Vicoden ever since. I'm not embarrassed. I would rather live a life with assistance from this medicine than be house bound or worse.

    I wish you nothing but the best...

  18. hermitlady

    hermitlady Member

    I've been on Vicodin or Norco (same ingredients, hydrocodone and aceto in varying strengths) for over 2 yrs, and it has given me my life back better than anything else I've tried. I get the pain relief plus the benefit of feeling better mentally and physically (able to be more active).

    The tiny dose you mentioned would be 2.5mg Hydro, 250mg aceto...and it's great you're getting such positive results. You sound concerned about the stigma that is related to pain meds, but if taken as prescribed, they can greatly improve the quality of our lives.

    FYI...I guess you probably know that over time, patients often become tolerant/dependent to these meds and have to occassionally increase dosages when needed. That is the main drawback IMO, as well as higher doses causing more side effects.

    A yr ago, I was taking 8-10, 7.5/375 Norco every day, and if I tried to stretch out the time between doses, I was in even more pain. One withdrawal symptom is aching leg muscles, and since my legs hurt so much already from the fibro, I talked to my dr about my concerns over my physical dependence issues. I was worried and a bit humiliated to be feeling like an addict.

    The Vic and Norco I took were not time release, so I had peaks and valleys of feeling good and painful/tired hours thru out the day. My Dr was (and always is) non-judgemental and very helpful. He believes in helping patients obtain a better quality of life. Anyway, he prescribed a small dose of 10mg Methadone 1x/day and had me slowly cut back on the Norco.

    Methadone is a pain medication itself, and it is stored in your fat cells so there's always a constant level circulating thru your body. The day I took my first dose of Meth, there were no more peaks and valleys, I immediately felt better. I can still take 3 Norco per day for breakthru pain, this is a fantastic med combo for me.

    Even tho Methadone has some of the same side effects (dependence, withdrawal), it's an older, more stable med that helps me feel better.
    I like to occassionally share this info here, in case anyone here could possibly benefit from it like I have.

    I hope all of these replies have helped you, we're sometimes "the experts" since we are living similar lives. Just remember, quality of life is so important! Knock out some of our nasty pain and we're reborn, able to get up and live our lives.

    It's so nice to be able to enjoy life again when all you've been living with is pain and fatigue. Hope you continue to do well...

    Happy Thoughts, Hermit
  19. MsE

    MsE New Member

    I have been spending more time on my sofa than in the world. Hit a stage where I couldn't even concentrate enough to read, and I love to read.

    Just got home from going to the post office to get boxes. I took a 1/2 pill before I left, and I still feel okay. So, I'm going to get the boxes loaded for shipping!

    I think you are correct. I need to get over feeling embarrassed by using this medication and just be glad it helps. MsE
  20. wendysj

    wendysj New Member

    Hi MsE,

    I got so bad I couldn't read... That's when I decided I had to do something. When I told my doctor that I love to read and just haven't been able to lately, she wrote the Rx right then. My pain/fatigue was taking all my concious thought. She said that could lead to depression.

    I've learned from years of being ill that the MOST important thing for me to remember is that if depression sets in, I lose control. If I have to fight through pain/fatigue to wash the dishes or walk my dog, I'll do it with no worry (or guilt) of what I'll feel like later that day or the next. I have to keep my mental health - my first priority - in good shape or I will lose control of my ability to fight the physical issues.

    I'm glad you're going to do whatever it takes to give you the ability to live a bit more "normal" life.