Lortab Side Effects, Abuse & Addiction
In This Article
People experiencing chronic pain greatly rely on their ability to find effective pain relief, which impacts their quality of life. Health practitioners commonly prescribe medications like Lortab for people with these conditions.
While Lortab effectively and quickly reduces discomfort, it also contains risks. These include potential side effects, addiction, and other long-term detriments to mental and physical well-being.
This blog post provides an overview of Lortab and its effects so you can make informed decisions regarding your medication. It will also offer treatment options for people addicted to this powerful opioid.
Is Lortab Addictive?
Yes, Lortab has a high addiction risk due to its hydrocodone content. The long-term use of Lortab and other opioid medications can lead to tolerance.
Tolerance occurs when you require higher drug doses to achieve the same effects. It increases the risk of overdose and alters the way your brain functions.
Mild physical dependence can develop after a few weeks of using a highly addictive narcotic. This includes Lortab. With continuous use, your body will become completely physically dependent on the drug.
This means you must take more of it to function normally. Not taking Lortab after physical dependence occurs will trigger withdrawal symptoms that range from mild to severe.
Is Lortab A Controlled Substance?
Drugs that contain hydrocodone, like Lortab, are classified as Schedule II substances. This means they are habit-forming and have a high risk of misuse, abuse, and addiction.
Other hydrocodone/acetaminophen combination drugs that produce similar effects include:
- Anolor DH
What Are Lortab Addiction Symptoms?
Symptoms of Lortab addiction include:
- Bouts of euphoria
- Frequent mood changes
- Muscle twitches
- Hearing loss
- Liver damage or acute liver failure (due to overdose)
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How Do Users Abuse and Misuse Lortab?
Sourcing drugs can be difficult when using a controlled substance like Lortab. Abusers primarily obtain it through the diversion of pharmaceutical drugs for misuse. However, the combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen in tablet form is also widely available in the illegal market.
Lortab users also abuse the drug by:
Lortab drug abusers usually use more than the recommended dose. This means using an authentic prescription from one doctor or health care provider isn’t enough.
People abusing Lortab tend to visit multiple doctors in different locations. This practice is “doctor shopping” or “visiting multiple providers.” They also visit numerous pharmacies to fill their prescriptions.
Taking Lortab With Other Drugs
Sometimes, people misuse or abuse Lortab by combining it with other drugs. This includes benzodiazepines, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and more.
Taking two or more drugs together can lead to more severe consequences due to drug interactions. It also increases your risk of overdose due to the powerful effects of combining substances.
Buying From Other People With Prescriptions
Abusers often purchase Lortab from people with prescriptions at significantly higher price points than retail prices. This is because they want to get their hands on the drug without going through legal channels.
It's illegal to purchase Lortab from people who have prescriptions. However, some users do this to get more of the drug without facing legal trouble.
Purchasing Lortab off the Street
Illegal vendors also sell Lortab off the streets. This often occurs at higher prices and with unknown risks due to the lack of regulation.
It's important to note that these prescription drugs may be counterfeit and contain other active ingredients. It’s also common for them to have more acetaminophen, which can increase your risk of overdose or other serious side effects.
Stealing pills from another person's prescription is also a form of drug abuse. This practice puts the health and well-being of others in danger since they may not be aware that their medication has been taken.
Some Lortab abusers also steal from pharmacies and hospitals. This is a crime and comes with its legal consequences.
Crushing and Snorting Lortab
Although challenging, some people crush and snort Lortab extended-release tablets and capsules. This allows for faster delivery into the bloodstream, which produces a stronger and more intense high.
It also increases your risk of overdose due to how fast your body absorbs the medication. Furthermore, snorting Lortab can cause serious damage to your nose and throat.
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What Are Lortab Overdose Symptoms?
When you take Lortab in large doses, a Lortab overdose can occur. Hydrocodone and acetaminophen overdose signs will vary even if they’re from the same drug.
Hydrocodone Overdose Signs
The most common symptoms of hydrocodone overdose include:
- Signs of respiratory depression (decrease in respiratory rate, Cheyne-Stokes respiration, or cyanosis)
- Dry mouth
- Skeletal muscle flaccidity
- Cold and clammy skin
- Sleep apnea
- Circulatory collapse
- Cardiac arrest
Acetaminophen Overdose Signs
Symptoms of acetaminophen overdose include:
- Hepatic necrosis, which symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diaphoresis, and general malaise
- Renal tubular necrosis
- Hypoglycemic coma
If you or someone you know exhibits any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency room. Early medical intervention can help prevent a life-threatening overdose.
What Are Lortab Withdrawal Symptoms?
Stopping the use of Lortab after an addiction develops can trigger symptoms. These early withdrawal symptoms occur within 24 hours of the last dose:
- Muscle aches
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive yawning
On the other hand, the following symptoms manifest after 24 hours without a dose:
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid heartbeat
- Elevated blood pressure
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What Disorders Co-Occur With Lortab Abuse?
When people enter a substance abuse program 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
- 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.
How Do You Treat Lortab Addiction?
Treatment options are available if you or a loved one are struggling with Lortab addiction.
Listed below are some treatment options that can help you recover from Lortab addiction:
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
MAT is a combination of medications and behavioral therapy. It helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it easier to stay in treatment.
The two main MAT drugs physicians use for opioid addiction are methadone and buprenorphine. These drugs act on the brain’s opioid receptors, blocking the effects of Lortab and other opioids.
Behavioral therapy helps identify the underlying causes of addiction. It also seeks to modify the patient’s behavior and thought processes related to substance use.
The most common type of behavioral therapy that treats drug addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT encourages people to:
- Recognize their triggers
- Create plans to cope with triggers
- Manage stress
- Develop healthier coping skills
- Form more positive relationships
Treatment centers also offer holistic therapies such as art therapy, music therapy, meditation, and yoga. These activities help people recognize their emotions and better handle withdrawal symptoms during recovery.
Aftercare services are available following treatment. They provide extra support for people in long-term recovery from Lortab addiction.
The most common forms of aftercare include 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA). This program helps build a support network and increase accountability during recovery.
Other types of aftercare include one-on-one counseling, group therapy, and sober living communities. These services help people stay away from drugs and maintain their recovery for the long haul.
What is Lortab?
Lortab is a prescription medication that combines hydrocodone, a narcotic pain reliever, and acetaminophen, a non-narcotic pain reliever. It’s primarily prescribed for the management of moderate to moderately severe pain.
The drug can also be a combination of aspirin and hydrocodone. Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is also an ingredient in this combination drug. It works to reduce pain, improve sleep quality, and provide some relief from fever.
What Forms Does Lortab Come In?
Lortab is available in various forms, including:
- Liquid solution
Lortab ASA contains aspirin, while Regular Lortab contains acetaminophen.
Each type of Lortab contains different concentrations of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Reading the label carefully before taking this drug is essential to receive the proper dose.
What Are The Side Effects of Lortab?
Lortab triggers several side effects that range from mild to life-threatening. Most commonly, Lortab users experience the following:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
Additional Mild to Moderate Symptoms of Lortab
Less common mild to moderate symptoms include:
- Mental clouding
- Impairment of mental and physical performance
- Anxiety, fear, or dysphoria
- Mood changes
- Ureteral spasms, spasms of vesical sphincters, and urinary retention related to opiate use
- Skin rash
Call your doctor if you experience any of the moderate symptoms of Lortab above.
Serious and Life-threatening Side Effects of Lortab
Lortab is also associated with severe, potentially life-threatening side effects. This includes respiratory depression and liver failure.
High doses of Lortab can pose a risk of respiratory depression. It also becomes a risk for people who have:
- High sensitivity to drugs
- Head injury
- High intracranial pressure
- Other intracranial lesions
This is because large amounts of hydrocodone act on the brain stem's respiratory center, affecting respiratory rhythm. This can result in irregular, slow, and shallow breathing.
Liver failure is also a risk when users take large doses of Lortab. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage and failure, especially if you take it in high doses and with alcohol.
What Precautions Should I Take When Taking Lortab?
When taking Lortab, you must keep in mind the following:
- Breastfeeding while on Lortab: The drug can pass through breast milk and harm your baby.
- Combining Lortab and alcohol: This is because both substances depress the central nervous system (CNS), which could result in shallow breathing, loss of muscle control, or death due to respiratory arrest.
- Food and drug allergies: Don't consume it if you're allergic to hydrocodone, acetaminophen, or aspirin.
- History of drug abuse: If you have a family history of substance abuse or addiction, use Lortab cautiously.
Before taking Lortab, call your doctor to discuss your medical history and current medications. This will help ensure that it's safe for you to take the drug.
What Are the Drug Interactions of Lortab?
Multiple drug intake (MDI) occurs when you take addictive substances like opioid pain medicine and another drug simultaneously. MDI or polydrug use tends to develop more potent effects than taking just one substance, which can increase the risk of severe side effects and overdose.
The FDA warns Lortab is likely to interact with the following:
- Migraine medications
- Other drugs that depress the body’s central nervous system (CNS)
Combining opioids, benzodiazepines, and other CNS depressants 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.
Multiple Opioid Risks
Additionally, the FDA issued a warning regarding multiple opioid risks. These include:
- Harmful interactions with other medications, including antidepressants and migraine medications
- Decreased sex hormone levels
- Impotence and infertility
- Adrenal gland problems, resulting in inadequate cortisol production
- Toxic levels of serotonin build up in the brain (serotonin syndrome)
Lortab is a narcotic pain reliever made of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Physicians prescribe it to relieve pain in people suffering from moderate to severe pain, but many misuse it due to its euphoric effects.
Abuse of Lortab can lead to addiction, overdose, and other serious health problems. This is why precautions should be taken when taking the drug, such as avoiding alcohol and certain medications.
Treatment options, such as MAT and behavioral therapy, are available if you or a loved one is struggling with Lortab addiction. Aftercare services can help people abstain from Lortab and other substance use disorders.
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- “FDA Drug Safety Communication: Prescription Acetaminophen Products to be Limited to 325 mg Per Dosage Unit; Boxed Warning Will Highlight Potential for Severe Liver Failure.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2018.
- “Drug Safety Communications: FDA warns about serious risks and death when combining opioid pain or cough medicines with benzodiazepines; requires its strongest warning.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2016.
- “FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA Warns about Several Safety Issues with Opioid Pain Medicines; Requires Label Changes.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2016.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Opiate and opioid withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, 2022.
- Tenayuca, J.M., and Nazarian, A. “Hydrocodone And Morphine Possess Similar Rewarding Effects And Reduce Erk And Creb Phosphorylation In The Nucleus Accumbens.” Synapse, 2012.
- Cassidy et al. “Patterns of abuse and routes of administration for immediate-release hydrocodone combination products.” Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 2017.
- “Hydrocodone (Trade Names: Vicodin®, Lortab®, Lorcet-HD®, Hycodan®, Vicoprofen®).” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 2019.