Lortab (also known as Lorcet, Norco or Vicodin) is a controlled-substance medication used for pain only available by prescription. Lortab is made up of a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is an opioid often used to manage moderate-to-severe pain by affecting the ways in which pain is perceived. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter pain reliever that is less potent than an opioid but when added to hydrocodone, boosts the effects.
Lortab use can easily lead to addiction as the narcotic – hydrocodone – affects the pleasure center of the brain to cause euphoria. Individuals who are prescribed Lortab are instructed to take the medication at the first sign of pain and some may become overly-vigilant and misinterpret basic muscles aches or pains as symptoms needing Lortab. Over time, it can become increasingly easy for some to take more Lortab, increasing the dosage beyond the prescribed usage.
Lortab comes in tablet form and is dispensed by a pharmacist after obtaining a valid prescription by a doctor. When used illicitly, it is often crushed into a powder and either snorted or mixed with water and injected. Both of these routes of administration result in a faster and stronger high, often compared to the high of heroin.
At Acadiana we understand what can lead to Lortab addiction and will never judge you. We know that every individual is different and has a different path to their Lortab addiction and we are here to support you as you begin the recovery process.
It has been estimated that as many as 2.2 million people use prescription pain medications including Lortab for nonmedical purposes. The highest rates of use of this substance for non-medical purposes are among 18-25 year olds. Yearly, more than 1.3 million individuals are admitted to emergency rooms due to drug overdoses, 33% of these involving opioids including Lortab. Prevalence studies have reported that more than 60% of new users of opioid pain medications including Lortab, obtain the drug from friends or relatives.
Disorders that have been found to co-occur with Lortab abuse include:
- Substance abuse disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Depressive disorders
- Conduct disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Somatization disorder
- Personality disorders
Causes of Lortab Use
There is no single cause that explains how addictions develop and it has been recognized that several factors contribute to the development of addiction. Some factors include:
Genetic – Individuals who become addicted to Lortab often have a first-degree relative who also suffered from a substance abuse disorder. However, it is now recognized that no substance use disorder is caused by a single gene but is more likely the result of a number of different genes interacting.
Biological – As opioid narcotics affect the pleasure center of the brain, it has been postulated that some individuals who develop an opioid addiction may have been born lacking the ability to feel much pleasure. They may turn to opiates in order to experience pleasure.
Environmental – While individuals with a family member who struggled with substance abuse may have a genetic predisposition to the disorder, this may be compounded by modeling substance abuse openly as the child is growing up. Additionally, Lortab addiction can develop as a means to cope with stress when individuals do not have more adaptive strategies. Sometimes substance use begins due to peer pressure and the desire to belong.
Psychological – Addiction and mental illness often go hand-in-hand. Many individuals who struggle with addiction are attempting to self-medicate the symptoms of a mental illness through abuse of drugs such as Lortab.
Symptoms of Lortab Use
Frequently observed symptoms of Lortab use and abuse include:
- Constant concerns over obtaining more Lortab
- Severe mood swings
- Doctor shopping to obtain multiple prescriptions
- Repeated reports of lost or stolen prescriptions
- Social withdrawal
- Becoming argumentative
- Decreased speech production
- Lying, stealing, dishonest behavior in order to obtain more of the drug
- Nausea and vomiting
- Edema of the hands and feet
- Severe weakness
- Slow heartbeat
- Hearing loss
- Muscle twitches
- Constricted pupils
- Decreased ability to pay attention, focus or concentrate
- Memory difficulties
- Continued use despite knowing that the drug is leading to or exacerbating psychological difficulties
Effects of Lortab
The effects of Lortab on an individual will vary with length of use, dosage used, and frequency of abuse. Some of the more common effects of Lortab include:
- Shallow respiration
- Decreased heart rate
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Strange or bizarre thoughts or behavior
- Increased bruising or bleeding when cut
- Nausea, stomach aches
- Loss of appetite
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
Depending on how long the person has been using Lortab and the dose used, effects of withdrawal from Lortab can vary. Withdrawal from this drug should always be under the supervision of trained medical personnel to prevent complications. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Aches and pains
- Stomach cramping
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Decreased appetite
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Lortab, it is crucial to seek Lortab abuse treatment as soon as possible.