Lortab Abuse and Addiction in Orlando

What Is Lortab?

Lortab is a prescription, brand-name drug that combines hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Other brand names for the same combination include Vicodin and Norco.  According to prescribing information and guidelines, Lortab is characterized as a narcotic analgesic or an opioid. The hydrocodone is the opioid component. Acetaminophen is used in combination with hydrocodone to improve pain-relieving effectiveness. Hydrocodone activates opioid receptors in the central nervous system. In doing so, the drug alters the emotional response to pain and the sending of pain signals from the body to the brain. Acetaminophen isn’t as strong as hydrocodone, but it does improve its effectiveness when the two are used in combination with one another. Lortab can be prescribed to relieve pain characterized as moderate to severe.

If someone is prescribed to take Lortab, they should speak with their doctor about their full medical history as well as any other substances they’re using. If an opioid like hydrocodone is used with another central nervous system depressant, it can be fatal. Other CNS depressants include benzodiazepines, alcohol and prescription sleep aids. Lortab shouldn’t be combined with other opioids either unless instructed by a doctor. Common side effects of Lortab according to Verywell Health include feeling lightheaded, dizzy or sedated. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting. Also possible are dry mouth, constipation, and changes in mood.

Is Lortab Addictive?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes certain substances based on a combination of their medical uses and the potential for abuse and addiction. The potential for addiction and abuse is the primary determination used to classify a drug by schedule. Therefore, Schedule I drugs are considered substances with no currently accepted medical uses and a high abuse potential. The scheduling then goes down to a Schedule V substance, which is believed to have the lowest abuse and addiction potential.

Due to the presence of the hydrocodone, Lortab is a Schedule II substance. Most opioids are Schedule II, aside from heroin, which is Schedule I. Being a Schedule II drug indicates that while hydrocodone is approved for medical use, the potential for addiction is high. According to the DEA, Schedule II drugs can lead to “severe” dependence, physically and psychologically. The DEA also defines Schedule II drugs as being dangerous. Other Schedule II substances include methadone, cocaine and fentanyl.

When someone takes an opioid like hydrocodone, they are likely to feel effects to their brain and central nervous system. That’s how the drug alters the brain’s emotional pain response. Hydrocodone activates opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system. Along with pain relief, some people who use hydrocodone may experience euphoria, relaxation or a pleasant sense of well-being.

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Experiencing these pleasurable effects is one reason why people abuse narcotics. If the brain is exposed to a narcotic like hydrocodone, the exposal can trigger a response that leads to addiction. Addiction develops when someone’s reward response is activated, which is what can happen with hydrocodone. Addiction changes the chemical makeup of the brain and how it functions. If a Lortab addiction develops, a dependence can form. Lortab dependence means that if someone stops taking the drug, they will go through withdrawal.

When Lortab or another opioid is considered as a pain-relief treatment, medical professionals typically assess the person to determine if they are at high risk of becoming addicted. Some considerations that a medical professional might ask about include:

  • Mental health problems including PTSD or depression
  • A family or personal history of addiction
  • A genetic predisposition

If someone takes Lortab exactly as prescribed, they are at a lower risk for becoming addicted. Lortab and other opioids should typically only be used as short-term pain relievers. The longer someone uses an addictive medication like Lortab, the greater the chances of becoming addicted or dependent. If someone abuses Lortab, they are more likely to become addicted. Abuse occurs any time a prescription drug is used outside of how it’s intended. For example, using Lortab without a prescription is considered abuse. Taking larger doses than instructed or continuing to take it for longer than instructed are also signs of Lortab abuse.

With combination pain relievers like Lortab, there is another concern of which people should be aware. There are risks of not only the opioid component of the medicine but also the acetaminophen, which can cause damage and harm to the liver if used in large doses.

Lortab Addiction Statistics

According to the DEA, there were more than 136.7 million prescriptions for medications with hydrocodone written in 2013 and is frequently entered into drug evidence at federal, state and local levels of law enforcement. In 2016, there were 83.6 million prescriptions written for hydrocodone-containing medications.

It’s estimated that 115 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses, based on information from the CDC. The overdose death rate in 2016 was five times higher than in 1999. Overall, hydrocodone is estimated to be the most frequently prescribed medication in the United States, even though there have been efforts to curb the rate at which the drug is given to patients. The DEA also estimates that 24.4 million people over the age of 12 report that they’ve used hydrocodone for non-medical reasons.

Lortab is a medication with value for pain relief. It’s also very addictive, and physical dependence can form quickly when the drug is used. To learn more about Lortab addiction and rehab and treatment options, contact an intake specialist at the Orlando Recovery Center.