Lortab Addiction: Symptoms, Signs and Side Effects

Lortab is a prescription pain reliever containing hydrocodone. Because of the hydrocodone, there are risks related to the use of Lortab. These risks include developing an addiction and dependence. Lortab isn’t the only prescription opioid with an addiction potential. All prescription drugs containing an opioid may be habit-forming. They are also controlled substances, indicating their addiction potential.

Symptoms of Lortab Abuse

Lortab is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opioid narcotic analgesic. Acetaminophen is a commonly used over-the-counter pain reliever. Acetaminophen is combined with hydrocodone to improve the latter’s effectiveness. When someone uses Lortab, the hydrocodone binds to opioid receptor sites. Opioid receptors around found throughout the body, including the central nervous system and brain.

When the opioid sites are activated by the presence of hydrocodone, which converts to morphine when it reaches the brain, there is a depressant effect. Opioids depress the function of the central nervous system. This means functions including respiration and heart rate are slowed.

Along with these effects, some people experience euphoria or pleasant sensations when they use opioids like Lortab. This creates the potential for Lortab to be addictive and habit-forming. Most people won’t experience euphoria or a high if they use Lortab in prescribed doses, but it’s possible. The greater the dosage someone uses, the more likely they are to feel high.

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Lortab is frequently abused because of the presence of hydrocodone. Prescription drug abuse is prevalent despite efforts to slow down how frequently people receive prescriptions for opioids that have mood-altering effects. Prescription drug abuse refers to a situation where someone is:

  • Using the substance only for certain effects, such as euphoria
  • Using the medication without a prescription
  • Taking it in any way other than how it’s prescribed

Outward signs of Lortab abuse might include:

  • Seeming euphoric or very relaxed
  • No sense of pain
  • Seeming drunk
  • Sedation
  • Developing a tolerance (needing larger doses to get the same effects)
  • Changes in mood or mood swings
  • Symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Withdrawing from loved ones or family members
  • Stealing Lortab or trying to get more from a doctor or medical professional
  • Financial or legal issues may start to arise

Side Effects of Lortab

As with other medications, there are possible Lortab side effects. The side effects of Lortab can occur whether someone takes it as prescribed or if they’re abusing the medication. Lortab side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Slowed breathing
  • Itchiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation

Addiction and dependence are also possible side effects of Lortab. Lortab addiction signs may start to occur the longer someone’s brain is exposed to the drug. Lortab addiction symptoms can vary for each person and their severity can vary, but generally includes:

  • Continuing to take Lortab for longer than intended
  • Trying to stop using Lortab unsuccessfully
  • Continuing to use the medication even when there are negative side effects or outcomes
  • Other responsibilities are ignored
  • A significant amount of focus is put on using or obtaining Lortab
  • Problems with relationships related to the use of the drug
  • Developing a dependence, meaning Lortab withdrawal symptoms will occur if the drug is no longer used

Side Effects of Long-Term Lortab Abuse

The longer someone uses Lortab, the more likely they are to become addicted and dependent on the drug. There are other side effects of long-term Lortab abuse that can manifest as well. These side effects can be physical, mental or both.

When someone abuses Lortab for an extended period, it affects the chemicals in and functionality of the brain. Opioid abuse can cause changes in the brain’s reward and pain management systems. The body might not be able to fight pain effectively with long-term opioid exposure. Even small injuries may lead to intense pain sensations. Someone who uses opioids for a long time might not experience happiness or pleasure without using the drug.

Chronic opioid use can cause bowel and gastrointestinal symptoms and complications. For example, opioids like hydrocodone can cause constipation. With long-term use, fecal impaction and rectal prolapse may occur.

Using opioids for an extended period can damage the lungs and respiratory system. It can also be damaging to the body’s hormonal systems. It’s believed that opioids decrease the production of hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Opioid use can cause sexual dysfunction and infertility.

Since Lortab contains acetaminophen, the medication can be more problematic in the long-term than single-ingredient opioid formulations. Acetaminophen can cause serious liver complications and damage, including acute liver failure or death. Sometimes with Lortab, people experience detrimental effects from acetaminophen before they experience them from hydrocodone.

Signs of a Lortab Overdose

There are two considerations with a Lortab overdose. First, someone could overdose on hydrocodone. There is also the risk of overdosing on acetaminophen. Hydrocodone slows down the respiratory system when used. If someone uses too much of an opioid medication or drug, breathing can slow so much that the person overdoses or dies. Signs of a Lortab overdose because of hydrocodone include:

  • Shallow, slow or stopped breathing
  • Extreme confusion
  • Unresponsive to stimuli
  • Fingernails and lips may have a blue tint
  • Skin that’s cold and clammy
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Extreme vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

If someone overdoses on acetaminophen at the same time as the hydrocodone or before overdosing on the hydrocodone, symptoms might be different. It’s recommended that people take no more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen per day. The difference between a safe and an unsafe amount can be minuscule. If someone already has liver problems or drinks a lot of alcohol, they may be more likely to experience adverse effects from taking acetaminophen. Signs of an acetaminophen overdose include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain, especially in the upper right side

If you think that you or someone close with you could be abusing Lortab, medical treatment right away. Overdosing on Lortab is possible.

To learn more about Lortab addiction treatment and the options that are available, contact the intake specialists at the Orlando Recovery Center today.

Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.