Norco is a prescription painkiller administered to patients for the treatment of moderate to severe acute (short-term) pain. It contains a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, an over-the-counter pain reliever. Both drugs work to mitigate pain, and acetaminophen also works as a fever-reducer.
Due to the inclusion of hydrocodone, Norco has the potential for abuse and addiction. Hydrocodone is a moderately potent opioid that can cause dependency due to its effect on the brain’s reward system – namely, the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that are responsible for feelings of well-being.
Norco use can result in adverse side effects, including the following:
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Mood changes
- Agitation and irritability
- Stomach pain
- Incontinence (difficulty urinating)
- Profound tiredness
- Weight loss
Norco is normally administered as a tablet in formulations containing the following hydrocodone to acetaminophen ratios: 5mg/325mg, 7.5mg/325mg, and 10mg/325mg. When abused, Norco can also be crushed and snorted.
What is Norco Addiction?
Due to the addictive properties of opioids, Norco use can result in addiction even when taken in prescribed doses. Signs of a Norco dependency may include the following:
- Obsession with obtaining and using Norco.
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities once enjoyed.
- Poor performance at work, home, or school.
- Financial problems or legal issues related to excessive drug use.
- Continued use or misuse of hydrocodone despite undesirable physical and psychological side effects.
- The use of hydrocodone in hazardous or inappropriate situations (e.g. operating a motor vehicle).
- Negative changes or issues related to relationships and social life.
- General malaise, fatigue, or sedation.
Snorting hydrocodone can also cause nasal infections and damage to the septum and surround tissues.
Tolerance and Dependency
When hydrocodone is misused for a prolonged period, tolerance and dependence can develop. Tolerance is the result of the brain’s propensity to respond to certain substances by reducing their overall effects – namely, repeated exposure = diminished response. Tolerance often prompts users to consume more of the drug in an effort to achieve the person’s desired effects (e.g. euphoria, relaxation, pain relief.)
Dependency is a condition in which the brain is no longer able to function “normally” without the presence of a particular drug or alcohol. Efforts to reduce intake or cut back result in unpleasant side effects called withdrawal symptoms.
These effects are often the catalyst for relapse, and their severity is largely impacted by the amount of the average dose and frequency/duration of use.
Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Severe headache
- Dry mouth
- Abdominal aches and pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stuffy nose and flu-like symptoms
- Shaking and tremors
- Impaired motor coordination
- Slurred speech
- Moodiness – depression or anxiety
- Confusion and paranoia
Abusing hydrocodone, especially in combination with other drugs such as benzodiazepines or alcohol can result in life-threatening central nervous depression, overdose, and death.
Symptoms of a hydrocodone overdose include:
- Restricted pupils
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Pale skin, blue color to lips and nails (cyanosis)
- Limp body and cold, clammy skin
- Extremely slow heart rate
- Extremely slow labored respiration
- Stopped breathing/respiratory arrest
Of note, an overdose of acetaminophen is equally, if not more dangerous than the effects of hydrocodone overuse on its own. Acetaminophen is highly toxic at excessive doses and can cause liver damage and failure within days of use.
Symptoms of an acetaminophen overdose include the following:
- General malaise/ill feeling
- Inability to eat or poor appetite
- Abdominal pain
An overdose of Norco is a medical emergency. If you or someone is experiencing the above symptoms related to Norco abuse, please call 911 immediately.
Treatment for Addiction
Persons suffering from an addiction to Norco should seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Treatment usually begins with a medically-assisted detox, a process in which the patient is supervised around-the-clock for several days and medication is administered to prevent complications and reduce symptoms of withdrawal.
Following detox, patients are urged to participate in a long-term residential or intensive outpatient treatment program. Both tracks include individual and group therapy, counseling, 12-step program meetings and complementary therapeutic approaches such as yoga, meditation, and music and art therapy.
Residential patients reside at the center for 30 days or longer and benefit from 24/7 medical care and emotional support. Outpatients live at a private residence or sober living environment and visit the center several times per week for therapy and counseling sessions. These patients benefit from treatment services and recovery support while transitioning back into society.
After intensive treatment has been completed, former patients can take advantage of aftercare planning services and alumni activities that serve to provide long-term professional and peer support.
Our programs are structured with various components of evidence-based treatment practices and holistic approaches to treatment that provide our patients with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their recovery.
If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek help as soon as possible.