Norco Abuse, Withdrawal, Effects, & Treatment

Prescription painkiller misuse has the potential to quickly and easily develop into an opioid addiction, or opioid use disorder. Opioid-containing medications such as Norco are meant only to be used as prescribed. This article will review some of the dangers of misusing Norco and how to get treatment for Norco abuse and addiction.

What Is Norco?

Norco is the brand name for a prescription medication containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen, the main active ingredient in Tylenol and many other over-the-counter painkillers. Norco is primarily prescribed for people with moderate to severe pain though it is also used to suppress cough.1,2

Hydrocodone belongs to the opioid class of drugs, substances with a high potential for abuse and dependence. Other opioid drugs include oxycodone, morphine, heroin, and fentanyl.

Misusing hydrocodone can lead to numerous health problems and raises the risk of becoming addicted.2

Side Effects of Norco

Norco can produce certain side effects, which may grow in number and severity if the medication is abuse. Side effects of taking Norco may include:1

  • Lightheadedness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness or lethargy.
  • Clouded thinking.
  • Anxiety.
  • Constipation.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Trouble urinating.
  • Slowed breathing.

Norco Abuse

The major difference between Vicodin and Norco relates to the ratio of hydrocodone to acetaminophen in the drug

The abuse of prescription opioid drugs is a major problem in the United States. In 2016, an estimated 239,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17, 631,000 people aged 18 to 25, and 2.5 million adults aged 26 or older abused pain relievers.6

Typically, people at risk for Norco abuse have a prescription for the medication, know someone who has a prescription, or can obtain the drug illegally. People who develop an addiction to the drug may make emergency calls or visits near the end of office hours, repeatedly lose their prescriptions, tamper with prescriptions, and refuse to provide prior medical records or contact information for healthcare provider(s). They may also “doctor shop” or visit multiple prescribers to obtain additional prescriptions.1

Prescription opioids also have a high risk of overdose. In fact, the death rate from overdosing on prescription painkillers has steadily risen since 1999, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. The number of drug overdose deaths from prescription opioids went from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,087 in 2016.7

In addition, there is a relationship between prescription opioid abuse, such as Norco, and the use of heroin in the United States, as people often progress to heroin use when they can no longer get the prescription painkillers they abuse. In many parts of the country, heroin is cheaper and easier to acquire than prescription opioids. However, the risk of overdose on heroin is higher because of the varying purity of the drug and the likelihood of it being mixed with other drugs such as fentanyl.5

Norco Overdose

If someone is suspected of overdosing on Norco, immediate medical attention is needed. Treatment with the opioid overdose drug naloxone can counteract the effects of opioid overdose.1 However, the drug needs to be administered as soon as possible.

Signs of Norco overdose may include:1

  • Very slowed or difficult breathing.
  • Extreme lethargy.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Slow heart rate.
  • Tiny pupils.
  • Cold or clammy skin.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Stupor.
  • Coma.

Norco Detox & Treatment

Norco addiction can be difficult to recover from without help. Professional addiction treatment programs can help you to overcome your physical dependence on the drug and address your addictive, compulsive use of the drug.

Norco Withdrawal & Detox

signs of norco abuse and addiction

Because Norco is an opioid medication, it can produce physical dependence in individuals. When people who are dependent begin to cut down on use of an opioid medication or cease using the medication, they will experience a withdrawal syndrome that includes the following symptoms:1

  • Restlessness
  • Tearing
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting

These symptoms begin within 6-12 hours after the last dose. They will peak within 1-3 days and then begin to fade over a period of 5-7 days. Some people may continue to experience low-level withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, uneasiness, and insomnia for weeks or months. These are often called post-acute withdrawal symptoms.8 

People who want to stop using Norco should work with their physician or seek medical detox in a drug rehabilitation program. People who attempt to withdrawal on their own have a higher risk of relapse due to the urge to end the discomfort of withdrawal by using again.

Physicians may use opioid replacement medications such as methadone or buprenorphine to counter the effects of withdrawal and make the process more comfortable.9 They may slowly decrease the dose of this medication until the person has completed withdrawal. However, some people may remain on these medications long term.

Other medications, such as antidepressants or over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl, may also be included to counteract specific withdrawal symptoms.9 The use of any medication is determined on an individual basis.

Norco Addiction Treatment

After detox, people recovering from Norco addiction should engage in some form of therapy to address the psychological issues associated with their addiction. This can consist of individual therapy with a counselor or therapist, group therapy with a counselor or therapist, and/or participation in support groups such as 12-step groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Pills Anonymous. Therapy can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

In counseling or therapy, the individual should:

  • Address expectations and belief systems that are related to abuse or addiction.
  • Identify more functional expectations that are consistent with a drug-free lifestyle.
  • Identify the signs of relapse and develop coping strategies and a plan to avoid relapse.
  • Develop long-term strategies for recovery.
  • Develop a support system (may take the form of long-term participation in a 12-step program or family participation in therapy).

Do you need help with Norco abuse? At Desert Hope, we have a range of treatment programs that can help you. From medical detox to inpatient rehab and outpatient programs, we have what you need to recover. We’re here to speak to you confidentially at any time about your opioid use and how we can help get you started on a new path. Call us now at .

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
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