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Norco Abuse

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Woman looking at pillNorco is a prescription medication that combines hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain. Taking Norco in amounts exceeding prescribed doses, for lengths of time longer than recommended, or recreationally, can result in tolerance to the drug and the development of addiction.

In fact, Norco can be habit-forming even when taking prescribed doses, so it’s important to be extra vigilant about recognizing the warning signs of dependence when taking Norco.

Norco Abuse

Hydrocodone use and abuse has reached astronomical levels in the United States, prompting the DEA to do the following:

  • Re-classify the drug from Schedule III to Schedule II.
  • Place mandates on prescriptions in order to curb abuse and dependency.

Norco is a popular drug amongst opiate addicts because:

  • It contains the opiate hydrocodone.
  • It is relatively easy to obtain – for example, from friends, family, or through diverted prescriptions.

Additionally, Norco’s formulation includes acetaminophen, a non-addictive pain reliever. The hydrocodone portion of Norco can give users a euphoric high that can last for several hours that increases in strength with larger and multiple doses. For these reasons, Norco has a high potential for abuse and addiction.

Interaction of Norco with other drugs and alcohol poses significant dangers. Additional medications, illicit drugs, and alcohol all add to a growing list of side effects. Also note that the combination of alcohol and acetaminophen can cause liver damage.

To learn about how to find recovery from a Norco addiction, call .

Signs and Symptoms

Man looking at pillsIf you are worried about yourself or a loved one, you need to watch for certain signs of dependency. Symptoms of Norco addiction include the following:

  • Taking more than the prescribed dosage.
  • Taking Norco without a prescription.
  • Drug-seek behavior, such as scheduling appointments with multiple doctors to seek a prescription.
  • Withdrawal from social activities.
  • Tolerance (needing higher and higher doses to get the desired effect).
  • Withdrawal sickness, the fear of which may trigger continued use of this drug.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the most overt symptoms of Norco abuse are those that happen during withdrawal, including:

  • Goose bumps and chills
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Yawning.
  • Rebound pain (the return of pain or increased pain between doses). .
  • Agitation.
  • Severe nausea.
  • Other gastrointestinal distress.

Signs of a Norco Overdose

Because it combines hydrocodone and acetaminophen, you’ll need to watch out for the signs of overdose for both of these drugs.


  • Severe fatigue.
  • Stupor.
  • Weak muscles.
  • Slowed heart rate and breathing.
  • Drop in blood pressure.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Coma.


  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Excruciating belly pain on the right side.
  • Jaundiced appearance.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Hepatic necrosis (liver death).

Effects of Norco Abuse

Hydrocodone is generally seen as the bad guy in the Norco cocktail, being the narcotic with addictive properties, but the seemingly innocent acetaminophen can be equally deadly in high doses. It can cause havoc in the liver, while hydrocodone adds its own damage to the organ.

Hydrocodone slows the breathing, a potentially fatal effect when dosages are high. Additionally, long-term abusers may experience

Man holding head

  • Anxiety.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Inability to urinate.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Respiratory arrest.
  • Coma.
  • Death.

Abuse Treatment

If you’re worried about addiction in yourself or another, you can seek help. A number of treatment options are available for those struggling with a dependency on Norco.

Note that the more stable the living environment, the higher the recovery rates for recovery, which is why inpatient residential treatment works well. In addition to inpatient treatment, options for recovery include:

Recovery from Norco addiction steadily reconstructs the life you lost, adding value bit by bit. To begin a life with genuine rewards, call us at to discuss your treatment options.

Key Statistics

Norco abuse is an increasingly prevalent issue in the US, as illustrated by the following statistics:


  • There were 1.2 million emergency room visits in the United States in 2009 due to recreational use of hydrocodone, with 100,000 of these being the result of products containing the narcotic in combination with another drug.
  • Opiates accounted for 75 percent of pharmaceutical overdoses in 2008.
  • 15,000 recreational users die annually under the effects of these drugs, a number that even heroin and cocaine combined cannot compete with. The CDC now touts opiate abuse as an epidemic.
  • Since 1992, the recreational use of opiate drugs has tripled, and the United States is the world’s most culpable nation, consuming 99 percent of the global hydrocodone supply.

Teen Norco Abuse

Misuse of pharmaceuticals is all too common among teens. The perceived risk of a drug plays a core role in whether adolescents abuse it. Heroin has long held the crown as the scariest drug on the market, so a prescription drug that mimics its effects may be more appealing to teens. Combine this with the fact that pills are often easy to obtain from someone who has a prescription and it’s easy to see how abuse statistics begin to soar.

Teens abusing Norco are likely to become socially withdrawn. Restlessness and cognitive dulling continuously replace one another from day to day, dependent on whether the drug is available or not. Sluggishness and lack of motivation may result in a severe drop in grades.

Additional Resources

See the following articles for additional information about Norco and its effects:

You can also visit our Forum to discuss your experiences with other understanding members of our community.

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Patrick Condron, M.Sc., M.A.C., is an addiction specialist and drug and alcohol counselor. He is Executive Director of Lazarus House, Inc., a transitional residential program for men and women who continue to work on their recovery towards independent living.
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