Norco is classified as an opioid, a synthetic, legally produced version of poppy-derived drugs like heroin and opium. Made from a blend of acetaminophen and hydrocodone, this narcotic is similar in makeup to Vicodin or Lortab, with equally similar side effects and addiction rates. All are prescribed to patients to relieve moderate to severe pain, and can be used in the short term, such as when you’ve had a car accident or surgery, or in the long term, to help you cope with chronic pain.
As Norco works to relieve a patient’s pain, it also produces a slight euphoric sensation; it is this temporary feeling of general well-being and even elation that leads some people to seek out the drug long after the pain they were being treated for has dissipated. The more often the drug is taken and the longer use persists, the harder it is to achieve that euphoria and the more pills people find themselves consuming. It is a vicious cycle that is damaging physically and psychologically, and it can have devastating consequences.
In 2012, CBS News cited a CDC study that said prescription painkillers such as Norco had caused more than 15,000 deaths in the United States in 2008—more than three times the 4,000 painkiller-related deaths that had been reported in 1999.
Despite Norco’s designation as a controlled substance that can only be received when prescribed by a licensed physician, studies show that this has not limited its use. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that in 2009 and 2010 more than 50 percent of people over the age of 12 surveyed used sedatives, pain relievers, or stimulants in a manner other than prescribed and received the drugs from a friend or relative.
The results of a 2008 study conducted by the International Narcotics Control Board state that the United States consumes 99 percent of the hydrocodone manufactured worldwide.
Symptoms of Norco Addiction
Patients in the throes of Norco addiction may exhibit the following signs:
- prolonged drowsiness
- extreme anxiety and paranoia
- inability to concentrate of focus on tasks
- mood swings
- nausea, vomiting, and/or severe constipation
- an obsession with the drug
- physical and psychological dependence
When the abuse is severe, there are visible signs of an overdose:
- slowed breathing
- stupor, or even coma
- flaccid muscle tone
- cold and clammy skin
- apnea (interrupted breath)
Without immediate medical attention, a Norco overdose can lead to cardiac arrest and death.
Withdrawing from Norco is a physically taxing process, leading to:
- nausea and vomiting
- trouble concentrating
- chills and/or fever
- dilated pupils
- loss of appetite
- severe insomnia
Psychological, Social and Physical Effects of Norco Abuse
The physical effects of Norco addiction are both serious and frightening. In addition to the side effects described above, the acetaminophen component in Norco carries its own dangers. Ingesting too much acetaminophen can lead to liver disease, which can be fatal. For this reason, among others, you should always take Norco in the dosage recommended by your doctor, and limit alcohol as well as drugs, like cold medicine, that may also have acetaminophen as an ingredient. If you experience persistent nausea or vomiting, stomach or abdominal pain, extreme fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin), or dark urine, this could indicate liver damage and you should seek emergent medical care.
Psychologically, an addiction to Norco is debilitating. Even once the pain you sought to treat has abated, the craving for the euphoric high hydrocodone can cause may remain. For addicts, the intense cravings they experience can be impossible to ignore. The need to have the drug on them at all times can lead to paranoia and fear, both about how much drug they have in their possession as well as where they’re going to get more if and when legal supplies run out. This dependency can lead to desperate measures; addicts have been known to forge prescriptions, hop from hospital to hospital feigning injury in order to get medication, and steal (both the drug and money to purchase more pills).
This sort of anti-social behavior can wreak havoc, both in professional and personal circles. Norco addicts often lack the awareness and acuity to communicate with their sober friends and family, and it’s not uncommon for them to become withdrawn, preferring to get high instead of interacting with others. Mental sluggishness also makes it difficult to hold down a job; when they’re high, addicts can’t perfom at a normal level, and in rare moments of sobriety, they are foggy and craving their next hit to the point of dysfunction.
Norco Addiction Treatment
The first step to recovering from a Norco addiction is to admit the problem and get in to a treatment program. Inpatient treatment offers a host of benefits:
- Assisted withdrawal – Withdrawing from opioids is an unpleasant experience. While it is certainly possible to go “cold turkey,” one advantage of an inpatient program is that there is an entire medical team dedicated to making the process as painless and successful as possible. Facilitated withdrawal, when a patient is given medication to help manage the body’s often severe reaction to detox, is one possibility.
- An incredible support system – While recovering, both one-on-one sessions with a counselor and group therapy sessions will help you deal with your addiction on a thorough, all-encompassing basis. You’ll be able to get to the root of your addiction, deal with any peripheral problems or addictions that may be exacerbating your dependency, and be around like minds who understand your journey.
- Focus – Being admitted to inpatient facility is an opportunity to focus completely on your recovery, without the distractions and trigger-filled situations that exist outside.
- Transition – When you’re ready to transition back to your normal routine, your medical team has the training and information to help you set up a system to keep you maintain your sobriety.
Getting Help With Norco Addiction
If you or someone you love are struggling with an addiction to Norco, help is one simple phone call away. It’s never too late to change your life, and achieve the future you deserve. Call Cliffside Malibu at 1-800-501-1988 and take your first step towards recovery.