Updated on February 19, 2024
5 min read

The Risks of Lortab and Its Addiction Risks

Lortab is a prescription medication that primarily manages moderate to severe pain. It requires proper use and monitoring to prevent potential harm and overdose. 

The drug combines hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opioid pain reliever that works by producing feelings of pleasure and relief, while acetaminophen is another pain reliever that works by reducing inflammation.

Drugs that contain hydrocodone, like Lortab, are Schedule II controlled substances. This means they’re habit-forming and have a high risk of misuse, abuse, and addiction.

Lortab contributed to the nearly 645,000 opioid-related deaths between 1999 and 2021 in the United States alone.1

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Is Lortab Addictive?

Yes, Lortab is highly addictive because of the combined effects of its hydrocodone and acetaminophen components. They provide enhanced pain relief, but their synergistic effects and potential for dopamine release contribute to the drug’s addictive properties.

Physical dependence can develop within weeks, and long-term use leads to tolerance. Tolerance will require increasingly higher doses for you to feel the same effects. It raises the risk of overdose and altering brain function. 

This eventually leads to complete dependence on the drug for normal functioning. Discontinuing Lortab use results in withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

What Are Lortab Addiction Symptoms?

Lortab addiction symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Bouts of euphoria
  • Frequent mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Muscle twitches
  • Convulsions
  • Hearing loss
  • Hyperventilation
  • Itchiness
  • Withdrawal

Aside from addiction, long-term Lortab use can cause liver damage or acute liver failure due to overdose. It can also cause cognitive impairment and compromised immunity, leading to a susceptibility to other diseases.

What Disorders Co-Occur With Lortab Addiction?

When people enter substance abuse treatment for Lortab addiction, they often show signs of co-occurring mental health disorders. These include the following conditions:

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

People with these disorders may improperly use Lortab or other drugs to manage their condition. Doing so can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and other severe side effects.


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What Are Lortab Withdrawal Symptoms?

Stopping the use of Lortab after an addiction develops can trigger symptoms. Early withdrawal symptoms can occur within 24 hours of the last dose.

These early withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive yawning

On the other hand, the following withdrawal symptoms manifest after 24 hours without a dose:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hypothermia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Elevated blood pressure

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What Are Lortab Overdose Symptoms?

When you take large amounts of Lortab, an overdose can occur. Call 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency room to prevent a fatal overdose.

Hydrocodone and acetaminophen overdose symptoms include:9

  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Confusion or drowsiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue or lack of responsiveness
  • Bluish lips and fingernails (cyanosis)
  • Labored or no breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle twitches or seizures
  • Weak pulse

A Lortab overdose can also cause liver failure, resulting in yellow skin and eyes, otherwise known as jaundice.

Can Lortab Drug Interactions Cause an Overdose?

Polydrug use or multiple drug intake (MDI) can increase the risk of severe side effects and overdose. The FDA warns against using Lortab with several substances.

These substances include:

  • Alcohol
  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Migraine medications
  • Other drugs that depress the body’s central nervous system (CNS)

Combining Lortab with these substances can cause severe breathing problems, resulting in a high mortality risk due to respiratory failure. Because of this risk, the FDA now requires a Black Box Warning (the strongest warning) on Lortab, all prescription opioids, and benzodiazepines.

The FDA also encourages medical professionals to limit prescribing opioid pain medications to people using benzodiazepines and other CNS depressants.

How Do You Treat Lortab Addiction?

The best way to treat Lortab addiction is through a combination of multiple treatment approaches. Below are some treatment options that can help in recovery:

  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): A holistic treatment involving medications and behavioral therapy to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings
  • Behavioral therapy: Helps identify the underlying causes of addiction and modify the behavior and thought processes related to substance use
  • 12-step programs: Helps build a support network and increase accountability during recovery
  • Sober living communities: Safe transitional living spaces for people maintaining sobriety

Support Guide for Caregivers of Addicts

If your loved one is struggling with Lortab addiction, you can support them by learning more about their condition. Encourage them to seek treatment by offering to accompany them to appointments or help them find a rehab facility.

Remember that overcoming addiction is a long process with setbacks. Be patient and understanding while allowing them to experience the consequences of their decisions.

You should also practice self-care so you don’t become drained. Recovery is a team effort, so looking after yourself is crucial.

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​Resources for Help and Support

If you or someone you know is struggling with Lortab addiction, there are resources available to help. Consider reaching out to:

  • National Helpline: 1-800-237-TALK (8255)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Treatment locator
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Your primary care provider or a mental health professional: Consult them for personalized guidance and treatment options


Lortab is a narcotic pain reliever made of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Healthcare providers prescribe it to people with moderate to severe pain, but some misuse it due to its euphoric effects.

Lortab misuse can lead to addiction, overdose, and other serious health problems. This is why you should take precautions to avoid developing an addiction to this drug.

Treatment options, such as MAT and behavioral therapy, are available if you or a loved one struggles with Lortab addiction. Sober living homes and support groups can also help you maintain sobriety.

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Updated on February 19, 2024
9 sources cited
Updated on February 19, 2024

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