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Lortab Addiction: Symptoms and Signs of Abuse

Lortab Addiction: Symptoms and Signs of Abuse

Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is often combined with opioid drugs to create a medication that’s effective in alleviating moderate to severe pain.

Numerous opioid-based medications offer relief for patients while posing a milder threat of dependence and addiction, but not entirely. Today, our rehabs in Texas are looking into Lortab addiction behavior, including what Lortab is used for, signs of abuse, and side effects, to determine the risks of this medication. Read on to learn more about this important information.

What Is Lortab?

Lortab is a pain medication that contains two ingredients: acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Acetaminophen is a common medication used to alleviate pain and reduce fevers and is better known as Tylenol.

Hydrocodone is also used for treating pain, but unlike Tylenol, hydrocodone is part of the opioid drug class, meaning it’s the most powerful ingredient of Lortab. Like other opioids, hydrocodone also has a high potential for abuse and addiction.

The composition or chemical makeup of Lortab is similar to that of Vicodin, which is another hydrocodone-based painkiller.

How Strong Is Hydrocodone?

Strong opioid analgesic hydrocodone is frequently prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe pain. It is a member of the class of drugs known as narcotic analgesics, and its mode of action is to bind to certain brain and spinal cord receptors to modify the perception of pain. Hydrocodone is a useful medication for patients recovering from surgery, injuries, or chronic pain conditions because of its potent ability to relieve pain.

However, hydrocodone's potency also carries a risk of addiction and misuse. Due to the possibility of abuse, it is categorized as a Schedule II controlled substance in the US. Hydrocodone can provide a great deal of relief when taken as directed by a doctor; however, if taken improperly or excessively, it can have major side effects, such as respiratory depression and overdose. To guarantee hydrocodone's safe and efficient use in pain management, along with any drug combinations it may be a part of, patients and healthcare professionals must recognize and respect its strengths.

How Does Lortab Work?

Lortab works like other opioid-based medications. When someone takes Lortab, the hydrocodone binds to opioid receptors in the nervous system.

This activates the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters or chemical messengers to block pain signaling from the body and produce euphoria. When used as prescribed, Lortab is an effective form of pain treatment.

However, Lortab also poses a serious risk of abuse. People can develop a tolerance to and physical dependence on Lortab if they misuse or abuse it.

Lortab abuse includes taking higher doses than prescribed, mixing Lortab with alcohol or other drugs, changing the way it’s administered (such as crushing and snorting Lortab pills), and taking the medication without a prescription. For this reason, Lortab is a Schedule III controlled substance in the United States, meaning it’s illegal to use and possess without a prescription.

Is Lortab Addictive?

Yes, Lortab is addictive, but the risk of addiction isn’t as prominent with Lortab as it is with illicit drugs like cocaine, meth, or heroin. Even so, because Lortab contains an opioid (hydrocodone), it can produce a high when taken in high doses, which may lead to tolerance, increased Lortab use, and physical dependence.

The good news is that Lortab addiction is avoidable. As long as someone who’s prescribed this medication takes it exactly as they should, they don’t have to worry about becoming addicted.

It’s when someone takes higher doses of Lortab than directed by a doctor or mixes it with other substances that addiction becomes a serious concern. When a person starts taking Lortab beyond the limitations of their prescription, they may develop a tolerance.

Tolerance means the person’s brain and body have become accustomed to a particular dose of Lortab, requiring them to take higher doses to experience the same effects. The longer they abuse Lortab, the more likely they are to become physically dependent on the drug.

When someone is physically dependent, their mind and body struggle to function properly when they aren’t using Lortab. When their supply of Lortab is reduced or stopped, they may experience withdrawals.

To avoid the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and continue to experience euphoria and sedation, a person with Lortab dependence will continue to increase their doses. People who become tolerant to Lortab’s effects may also experiment with other, more serious opioids, whether they’re prescribed or synthetic.

Signs of Lortab Addiction

A person who’s addicted to Lortab or other opioids will exhibit various physical and behavioral symptoms associated with opioid abuse. Furthermore, they’ll compulsively use opioids like Lortab to avoid the discomfort of withdrawals.

Common signs of Lortab addiction include:

  • Euphoria
  • Sedation
  • Constant concerns over acquiring more Lortab or other opioids
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Edema (excess fluid in your tissues) in the hands and feet
  • Severe weakness
  • Hearing loss
  • Muscle twitching
  • Constricted pupils
  • Constipation
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Doctor shopping or going to multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions
  • Repeated instances of lost or stolen prescriptions
  • Social withdrawal
  • Becoming argumentative
  • Decreased or slurred speech
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Lying, stealing, or sneaky behavior to obtain more of the drug
  • Impulsivity
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
  • Poor or lack of interest in personal hygiene
  • Continued drug use despite the obvious consequences

A person with a Lortab addiction may also experience opioid withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, chills, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and increased pain sensitivity when their doses are reduced, or they suddenly stop taking the medication. If you want to quit Lortab, you should start with a medically monitored detox to avoid severe withdrawals.

Side Effects of Lortab Abuse

A person doesn’t have to be addicted to Lortab to experience adverse side effects. In most cases, the effects of Lortab aren’t serious and usually subside within a few days. It’s also common for people who are new to Lortab to experience these symptoms as their body adjusts.

Aside from desired symptoms like pain relief, adverse Lortab effects may also include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly

Abusing hydrocodone-containing medications or taking them with other depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines can also lead to overdose, which can be life-threatening.

The most life-threatening symptom of an opioid overdose is respiratory depression, which refers to partial or total cessation of breathing that could lead to suffocation and requires immediate medical attention.

Long-Term Effects of Lortab Misuse

Long-term Lortab use, particularly at doses above recommended guidelines, may result in tolerance, requiring higher doses of the medication to provide the same level of pain relief. This increase in dosage raises the possibility of physical dependence, which makes it difficult for users to stop using without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Another one of the long-term side effects of Lortab use is its potential to result in serious health complications. Since Lortab pills also contain acetaminophen, they also pose the risk of liver damage and disease if it’s taken too often or misused. Acetaminophen is metabolized by the liver; an overdose can override the liver's detoxification capacity, with potentially fatal consequences. Hydrocodone, the opioid component, also carries a risk of respiratory depression, which can worsen over time and raise the possibility of respiratory failure. For the purpose of promoting informed decision-making and facilitating timely intervention, medical professionals and individuals must acknowledge and address the potential long-term effects of Lortab misuse.

Lortab Addiction Help

While Lortab elixir and pills can help treat and manage pain, the drug may also be a gateway to addiction if abused. If you or someone you know is dependent on Lortab or struggling with opioid addiction, our drug rehab in Texas can help.

In addition to medical detox, our Central Texas rehab in Wealder also offers prescription and opioid addiction treatment to help people overcome dependencies on substances like Lortab and hydrocodone. While medically supervised detox involves slowly tapering patients of drugs and managing drug cravings for a successful start to recovery, our residential treatment program involves individual and group therapy efforts to help patients overcome the mental aspects of addiction, as well.

For more information about our available options for drug addiction treatment in Texas, call Banyan Treatment Centers at 888-280-4763.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Lortab Addiction: Symptoms and Signs of Abuse
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