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Article Summary

A Guide To Lortab Addiction

Lortab is a narcotic painkiller made using two different medications - acetaminophen and hydrocodone. As a brand name, it is one of 200+ hydrocodone products currently in the marketplace.

Typically prescribed for relieving moderate to severe chronic pain, the drug is also considered addictive. This is why it is only available as a prescription medication.

Understanding Lortab

In the same family of drugs such as Vicodin, Norco, and Lorcet, Lortab is a controlled substance medication used for pain relief. It is made using hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opioid used to manage moderate to severe pain by changing the way the body perceives pain in the brain. Acetaminophen, on the other hand, is available over the counter as a painkiller that is less potent but boosts its effects when combined with hydrocodone to form Lortab.

Since the hydrocodone component in Lortab has the potential for addiction and abuse, it is a Schedule III controlled medication. Since Lortab contains this substance, it also falls under the same classification. This is why it is only provided to users via prescription.

A semi-synthetic opiate, Lortab produces effects that are similar to those caused by Vicodin. This is especially true when you take it in large doses. On the other hand, if you take this drug repeatedly, it will cause addiction and dependence.

Recreational use often creates feelings of euphoric. However, Lortab works like other narcotics in the sense that your body will build its tolerance to this medication. As a direct result, you will start taking more of the drug to achieve the same level of high as you continue using it.

Lortab Uses

When a doctor prescribes Lortab, you will start using it for legitimate pain control. However, as time passes, you might develop an addiction, which might be precipitated by unpleasant emotional situations and stressful life events.

Lortab is now infamous for inducing carefree and pleasant feelings, which most users see as a welcome relief from having to cope with their negative emotions. However, with time, using this drug will lead to addiction.

The main ingredient in Lortab, hydrocodone, will affect the brain's pleasure center. In the process, it will cause euphoria. When a doctor prescribes this medication, s/he will ask you to take it at any sign of pain. Over time, you might become extra-vigilant and misinterpret basic pains and muscle aches as symptoms requiring the drug. Eventually, you will start taking more of the medication and increasing the dose beyond the doctor's prescription.

That said, Lortab is usually sold as a tablet and dispense by pharmacists when you show a valid prescription written by a doctor. However, those who use it illicitly often crush the tablet into a powder and either mix it with water and inject into the body, or snort it through the nose. These latter methods of administration cause a stronger and faster high - sometimes similar to the high you will get when you take heroin. As a direct result, they tend to be more popular among those who use Lortab recreationally, or abuse it.

Most Lortab users end up abusing it especially if they have the following co-occurring disorders:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Conduct disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Somatization disorder
  • Substance abuse disorders

Lortab Effects

The hydrocodone component in Lortab will affect the brain's opiate receptors in the brain. However, the exact mechanism of action is as yet unknown. Unlike other illicit drugs - such as marijuana, heroin, and cocaine - Lortab will not get you high.

Instead, the medication will cause sensations of happiness, well-being, and relaxation. Additionally, you will experience a significant reduction in existing acute or chronic pain.

However, when you come down from Lortab, you will feel unpleasant. This is because the pain will return. If you do are not in pain, and you use this drug, you will become less relaxed when it starts wearing off.

Here are the common effects arising from using and abusing Lortab:

  • Anxiety
  • Body soreness
  • Chills
  • Cold and hot sweats
  • Deceitfulness
  • Financial problems
  • Mood changes
  • Nervousness
  • Volatility
  • Withdrawal from your favorite social activities

Lortab Side Effects

However, Lortab also causes a variety of undesirable effects, which tend to intensify if you misuse the drug. These side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fainting
  • Itchy skin
  • Lethargy
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory depression
  • Vomiting

Lortab Addictive Qualities

If you take Lortab to control and alleviate pain, your body will adapt to it, and you will develop dependence. Physical and psychological dependence will occur because the receptors in the brain this drug stimulates will start relying on it.

Physical dependence might develop in as few as a couple of days of repeated, continuous use. However, it might also take a couple of weeks to develop. Psychological dependence, on the other hand, will happen once you start feeling that you won't be able to handle acute or chronic pain without using this drug.

As your tolerance to Lortab builds up, you will start needing stronger and more frequent doses to manage pain. The level of tolerance will depend on your biochemistry.

At the moment, Lortab is considered to be moderately addictive. Most addicts start using this medication legitimately before they get hooked on it over time.

Although recreational use is rare, some people will try abusing the drug to feel good and get high. In the process, they will develop an addiction. At this point, the addiction will cause you to start looking for prescriptions from different doctors as well as tampering with your prescriptions so you can get your hands on more of the medication.

Lortab Overdose

If you take more Lortab than your doctor prescribed, you might end up suffering a life-threatening overdose. At this point, the safest thing to do would be to talk to a doctor or seek immediate medical attention.

Following are some of the common symptoms of a Lortab overdose:

  • Blue tint to lips and fingernails, which happens when your body tissues are deprived of oxygen
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Coma
  • Constricted pupils that won't react to bright light
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Markedly slowed or shallow breathing
  • Minimal response to physical stimuli
  • Obtundation
  • Pronounced confusion
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Uncontrollable vomiting

These effects arise when you overdose on the hydrocodone component in Lortab. However, if you overdose on acetaminophen, you will suffer the following effects and signs:

  • Acute kidney failure
  • Hypoglycemic coma
  • Hepatic necrosis (acutely painful liver failure), among others

In case you identify any of the signs listed here following Lortab intake, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Lortab Withdrawal

As an opiate-based drug, Lortab is likely to cause physical dependency both after short and long term use. If you stop using the drug, you will experience serious withdrawal effects.

Depending on the dosage you usually take and the length of time you have been abusing Lortab, the withdrawal symptoms will vary from one addict to the next. However, these symptoms will usually start showing up 6 to 12 hours after your last dosage. They will intensify during the days following your last dose before they start dissipating after a couple of weeks.

Lortab's withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Body chills
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme sweating
  • Goosebumps
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle pain.
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Pain all over the body
  • Panic attacks
  • Pupil dilation
  • Runny nose
  • Seizures.
  • Stomach cramping
  • Sweating
  • Tachycardia
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Yawning

Lortab Dangers

Regardless of how you ingest Lortab, its abuse poses serious health risks. The effects of this opiate medication mean that it is highly addictive. Therefore, what might have started out as recreational misuse might develop into a serious drug dependency.

When you increase your consumption of this medication over time, the harmful side effects and opportunities for overdose will also shoot up. Excessive use of substances such as Lortab is dangerous mostly because of the acetaminophen component in the drug formulation.

If you continue taking this drug excessively, the acetaminophen might cause irreparable harm to your liver, eventually leading to failure. Further, when you combine Lortab with alcohol (another addictive liver-damaging addictive substance), the dangerous effects of the drug will get to extreme levels.

Consuming Lortab will lead to constipation. On the other hand, if you use it in combination with benzodiazepines, barbiturates, antihistamines, or alcohol, it will cause fatal breathing problems. Other risks of Lortab abuse include heart failure and respiratory problems.

Signs And Symptoms Of Lortab Abuse

The common signs and symptoms of frequent and varied Lortab abuse include, but are not limited to following:

a) Mood Symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Consistently concerning yourself about getting more Lortab
  • Euphoria
  • Severe mood swings
b) Behavioral Symptoms
  • Argumentativeness
  • Decreased ability to speak
  • Dishonest behavior, stealing and lying to get more Lortab
  • Doctor shopping so that you can get more prescriptions
  • Impulsivity
  • Repeatedly reporting that you've lost your prescription or that it was stolen
  • Social withdrawal
c) Physical Symptoms
  • Constipation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Convulsions
  • Dizziness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Edema of the feet and hands
  • Headache
  • Hearing loss
  • Hyperventilation
  • Itching
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Severe weakness
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Vomiting
d) Psychological Symptoms
  • Confusion
  • Continued use even after you find out that the medication will lead to or exacerbate your psychological difficulties
  • Decreased ability to concentrate, focus, or pay attention
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory difficulties
  • Paranoia

Treatment For Lortab Addiction

Although Lortab addiction might feel consuming and tiring, you can still recover. In fact, most people leave rehab facilities around the country having been completely cured of their addiction and dependence.

As mentioned above, withdrawing from this medication can prove harder than you anticipated. It is for this express reason that addiction experts that you only try to withdraw while under the care and supervision of medical staff and trained professionals.

When you receive proper care, you will be better placed to deal with the common withdrawal symptoms arising from Lortab use, abuse, and addiction. Further, your withdrawal will occur with little to no complications.

In some cases, the doctors dealing with your case might prescribe other drugs to lessen some of the discomforting withdrawal effects - such as intense pain and muscle cramps.

The best Lortab treatment facilities, centers, and programs often come with all the resources you need to efficiently and safely withdraw from this medication. As such, you should consider these resources as part and parcel of your journey to recovery.

In most cases, how long you take to withdraw from Lortab abuse and addiction will depend on some factors. These include, but are not limited to, the severity of the addiction, the length of time during which you abused the drug and any existing psychological issues.

The journey to full recovery is usually overwhelming during the first days. However, you can find hope and take comfort in the knowledge that you are never far from your aspirations for recovery and healing coming true.

Initially, you will feel like you can't live without the medication. However, irrespective of your location and past, help is always around the corner. When you get it, you will join many others who have achieved recovery and gone on to lead normal, healthy, successful lives.

During your recovery, you will receive gradual detoxification to help reduce and/or prevent the withdrawal symptoms commonly associated with Lortab addiction and abuse. This method of recovery is preferable to suddenly quitting the drug.

The Lortab abuse, dependence, and addiction treatment will consider the original problem for which your doctor wrote a prescription. If they originally prescribed the tablet for pain relief, your treatment facility will recommend different medication or methods of pain relief.

Both the psychological issues and physical dependence commonly associated with addiction will be addressed at the treatment facility. Similarly, the recovery period will be extended as long as you still feel a desire to go back to using Lortab. Only after you are completely weaned off the opiate will you start on your journey back home as a conqueror and former drug addict.

Of course, the earlier you check into a treatment facility or center, the sooner you will be out and able to continue with your typical day-to-day lifestyle.

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