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The Effects of Norco Use: Short-Term, Long-Term, Side Effects, and Treatment

What Is Norco Used For?

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 it is 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, when 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.

Norco Short-Term Effects

Norco abuse produces certain effects 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).

Norco Side Effects

Side effects of Norco use are varied and depend on the user, but they 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 abuse 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.
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms when not on Norco.
  • Compulsion to seek out 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 in order 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 dosage and the 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 addiction treatment involves reducing withdrawal symptoms with a medication such as buprenorphine (Suboxone(R)/Subutex(R)), along with medical supervision, in order to increase the patient’s comfort during the process.

Treatment in rehabilitation centers can also limit the likelihood of an opioid relapse, as a variety of behavioral interventions will be employed to increase a person’s chances of long-term recovery. These interventions include therapy (individual and group) and participation in 12-step programs.

Find Norco Addiction Treatment Programs

Rehab programs are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for treatment centers. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. If you believe that you or someone you love is addicted to Norco, don’t despair. To discuss a treatment program that will free you from your Norco dependency, please call AAC free at to talk to a treatment support specialist about your options.