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Vicodin (Opiate) Tolerance Development

I recently read an article about opiate tolerance, and there was a quote from it that addressed a problem we’ve all encountered in one way or another.

“A major problem faced by narcotics users and abusers is the well-known development of tolerance when an opiate is given repeatedly over a period of time. This is directly responsible for a number of the problems associated with narcotic use and abuse since increasing tolerance requires that steadily larger doses be used to achieve the same effects or degree of pain relief. This also underlies much of the crime associated with street addiction as the cost of maintaining a habit also escalates along with the dosage, often leading addicts to turn to drug dealing, prostitution or criminal activities to enable them to afford their daily dose.”

Sound familiar?

If you’re reading this blog, then chances are that you or someone you love has developed a serious tolerance to opiates. Whether you’re abusing opiates for pleasure or you need them to manage some sort of pain, or both. You probably know that the more you take, and the less time you leave in between your dose, the more you’ll need the next time around. Opiate tolerance is the real deal, and there’s really no way around it, but there are ways to slow it down.

The ultimate goal of this blog is to help you find alternative means to satisfying your need for prescription painkillers, but sometimes that’s just not possible. A large number of the emails and comments that I receive are from folks who’ve had some sort of injury that has made them dependent on opiates. They’ve sought out help from sites like mine because their tolerance has reached a level where the drug is no longer helping them, but rather hurting them. Like they say; “too much of a good thing is well, not good at all.”

Have you ever wondered why you’re still going through withdrawals even though you’ve followed the exact instructions on your script? You think that one or two pills every 4 to 6 hours is going to keep the tolerance from developing? Guess again.

The truth is that in order for you to prevent your tolerance from going up, you’d have to wait an entire 24hrs or more between doses. Ever heard of “half-life”? If not, you can learn here. For our sake, I’ll give you the cliff’s notes version.

“The half-life of a quantity whose value decreases with time is the interval required for the quantity to decay to half of its initial value.”

Let’s do a little math:

One regular strength vicodin has 5mg’s of hydrocodone in it. Let’s say that we take two pills at one time totalling 10mg’s. The half-life for hydrocodone (vicodin) is 3.8hrs. How many hours will it take for the drug to be completely out of your system?

@ 3.8hrs: 5mg’s left
@ 7.6hrs: 2.5mg’s left
@ 11.4hrs: 1.25mg’s left
@ 15.2hrs: 0.625mg’s left
@ 19hrs:  0.3125mg’s left
@ 22.8hrs: 0.15625mg’s left

…you get the picture

So imagine that you decide to take your regularly scheduled dose at 4-6 hour intervals. You can see how the stuff can add up.

There was another interesting quote from that article I read…

“However, many people are unaware that both enhanced effectiveness of narcotic analgesics AND prevention or reversal of tolerance is readily achievable through the oral use of up to 200-250 mg of Proglumide [(DL)-4-Benzamido-N,N-dipropylglutaramic acid]. [See Ott 1999; Watkins et al. 1984]”

Proglumide, a drug which inhibits gastrointestinal motility also has the ability to reverse or prevent opiate tolerance? I bet you’ve never heard about that before.


1 No Painkillers: Pain Management Techniques Part 1 | VicodinWithdrawal.org { 06.10.09 at 10:00 pm }

[…] tolerance develops, it gets harder and harder to effectively manage the sometimes excrutiating pain that accompanies a […]

2 Kris { 07.13.10 at 7:42 am }

thanks for putting it into perspective with the timetable…that is and hopefully soon to be was me. ….favorite line from Mr. Brownstone. “a little wouldnt do it so the little got more and more” . this is a great site!

3 Josh { 02.24.11 at 6:26 pm }

This site is awsome and so helpful. ThankS everyone.

4 Metoo { 02.25.11 at 6:44 am }

Hey, Josh, if you wish to, you should swing over to the “about” page….lots of us hang out over there, and are committed to helping each other! Come join us if you wish!! We welcome you!!!! 🙂

5 Need some inspiration PLEASE { 05.23.11 at 6:11 pm }

don’t know ya “yet” but we could use some testosterone on “about page” i am on day 10 working on day 11. from 20 yellow norco 10s a day for many years.. i have an amazing job and great friends and even with all that i couldn’t have done any of it without these great friends i have made on here; total support group and can understand what we are going through. just FYI

6 Renos { 07.30.11 at 8:34 am }

The math is correct but is not escalating. It’s curve which will reach a limit. That means that after a while the dose will rise to a certain limit but will never be more and more. I have made a calculation in Excel with an intake of Morphine over 44 hours. Every 4 hours a dose of 30 mg and the morphine has a half-life of 2 hours. At 44 hours you see a doses of 44,9927 mg. What you see is an E-curve with a limit of 45 mg concentration. So there is no escalation and this theory is not the cause of Tolerance develpoment.

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