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The Effects of Norco Use

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Norco is a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone – an opiate pain medication. It is intended to relieve moderate to severe pain. Because Norco contains the narcotic hydrocodone, it can be addictive and should be used with caution.

Is Norco Harmful?

While Norco should not be overtly harmful when taken as prescribed under medical supervision, the incidence of Norco abuse and addiction has risen steadily.

Like most other opiate painkillers, Norco has a gamut of negative side effects when misused. When taken outside of prescribed parameters it can indeed be both:

  • Harmful.
  • Habit-forming.

Recreational use, prolonged use and/or inappropriately high doses of Norco can result in dependence, overdose, and even death. It’s also important to understand that Norco contains acetaminophen which, taken in high doses, can quickly damage the liver and/or be fatal. The addictive potential of an opiate with the liver-damaging properties of acetaminophen makes for a volatile combination for abusers of Norco.

Short-term Effects

Norco produces certain effects when misused that abusers of the drug may seek out and become addicted to. These effects include:

  • Euphoria.
  • Feelings of being drunk.
  • Reduced awareness of pain.

Markedly altered level of consciousness (especially when taken in high doses).

Continually seeking to achieve the effects listed above through abuse of Norco can cause a rapid descent into addiction. Norco becomes a substitute for other ways to increase one’s personal happiness, not simply a medication intended to treat a specific condition (in this case: pain).

Half of 2014 U.S. drug deaths were caused by opiates.
Read our blog, Dying to Get High, to learn more.

Side Effects

Side effects of Norco are varied and depend on the user but can include the following:

  • Constipation.
  • Lightheadedness and fainting.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Urinary changes.
  • Problems breathing.

These Norco side effects can be accentuated when the drug is combined with alcohol, sedatives, sleep aids, muscle relaxants, antihistamines and other narcotic pain relievers. Many prescription drug abusers actively combine these medications, unaware of the dangers that may result.

Norco Long-term Effects

The most notable long-term effect of Norco is addiction, which is being reported at an increasing rate.

Other possible long-term effects of Norco abuse and addiction can include:

  • Heightened pain sensitivity when not taking Norco.
  • Cravings for the drug.
  • Financial problems.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not on Norco.
  • Compulsion to seek the drug, such as by obtaining pills through multiple doctors, on the street, or via the Internet.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Crime.
  • Mood swings.

Norco Dependency

drugabuse_istock-67628873-young-man-in-jacket-head-in-handsNorco addiction has become a growing problem. Norco dependence results when a user begins to take the drug out of habit, not merely as a treatment for pain. Norco use can begin on a legitimate basis but quickly take a turn toward dependency and abuse. The risk of abuse is especially high for those with a history of addiction.

Those addicted to Norco have often built up a tolerance for the drug and need to take more of it to experience the same sensations that they felt previously.

As tolerance develops, so does the risk of overdose and full-fledged addiction.

Norco Withdrawal Treatment

As with any addiction, the timetable for treatment for a Norco addiction will vary according to the dosage and longevity of the problem. Norco withdrawal has many unpleasant symptoms that can be quite intense, including:

  • Heavy sweating.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Mood changes.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Insomnia.

Given the intensity of these symptoms, you may wish to consider detoxing with professional help. Effective treatment involves reducing withdrawal symptoms with a medication such as buprenorphine (Suboxone(R)/Subutex(R)), along with medical supervision to increase the patient’s comfort during the process. Treatment in rehabilitation centers can also limit the chance of a relapse, as a variety of behavioral interventions will be employed to increase chances of long-term recovery. These interventions include therapy (individual and group) and participation in 12-step programs.

Treatment can be obtained from a variety of sources. If you believe that you are addicted to Norco, don’t despair. To discuss a treatment program that will free you from your Norco dependency, call to talk to a treatment support specialist about your options.

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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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