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Norco is the brand name for a drug containing a combination of two main active ingredients:
It is an opioid pain reliever and antitussive (cough suppressant) that treats moderate to moderately severe pain. The drug is similar to codeine, a highly addictive pain reliever found in prescription cough syrups.
Norco is available in three different dosage forms. Each pill contains 325 milligrams of acetaminophen and is combined with either 2.5, 7.5, or 10 mg of hydrocodone. Depending on the level of pain, your doctor will prescribe one of these formulations.
A study from 2018 found that almost 10 million people (12 and older) have misused prescription pain relievers in the past year. This is nearly 4 percent of the U.S. population.National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
The most commonly reported side effects to Norco include:
Additionally, more serious side effects can include:
Norco is classified as a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration. These are drugs that are defined as, “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”
Norco contains acetaminophen, which is toxic to the liver in high doses. In some cases, acute liver failure occurs, resulting in a liver transplant or death. For this reason, it is important to limit your consumption of Norco to 3,000 to 4,000 milligrams (mg) per day. Additionally, alcohol and Norco should not be mixed because both are processed by the liver, and may become toxic.
Furthermore, Norco can cause serious skin reactions, which can be fatal. If you develop a skin rash while taking the drug, stop use and contact your doctor.
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Other conditions that can occur include:
If you are allergic to hydrocodone or acetaminophen, do not take Norco, as it may cause a severe allergic reaction. Signs of this include:
If any of these occur, stop using Norco and contact emergency medical services immediately.
If you have a head injury, do not take Norco, as it can elevate the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid. This elevation may become exaggerated with a head injury and can become dangerous.
Norco can be addictive, as indicated by its listing as a Schedule II drug by the United States government. Hydrocodone is an opioid agonist, which binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the sensation of pain. Opioids induce feelings of calm and euphoria, which can very quickly become addictive.
Addiction is defined as a set of behaviors surrounding drug use. Someone who is addicted to Norco might be unable to stop using it, may have cravings when not taking it, and may continue to do so despite knowing it is harmful.
Signs of opioid addiction and abuse include:
Overdoses from opioids can happen for many reasons, including:
Taking too much Norco in one dose can cause respiratory depression (slow and ineffective breathing), which is extremely dangerous. High doses of hydrocodone act on the brainstem and affect breathing rhythm and rate.
Most often, this effect is seen when too much of the drug is taken at once, resulting in an overdose. Other signs of a Norco overdose to look out for include:
If any of these symptoms are observed, call emergency medical services immediately and administer naloxone, if available.
If someone uses Norco for an extended period of time, they become physically and psychologically dependent on it. In short, this means they need to take the drug in order to function normally day to day.
When drug use is stopped suddenly during dependence, withdrawal syndrome can occur. Symptoms of withdrawal of opioids, like Norco, include:
Do not attempt to withdraw from opioids, such as Norco, on your own, as this can be extremely dangerous. The sudden change in drug use can cause seizures, and in some severe cases, death. Talk with your doctor about quitting opioid use, and develop a plan on how to do so.
One supervised method of stopping Norco use is tapering off the drug. This process reduces the dosing slowly over a period of time to prevent shock to the body’s systems. In doing so, withdrawal symptoms will be much less severe and can be managed with other medication. Tapering should only be done under the direction of your doctor.
There are a wide variety of treatment options available to help you or a loved one overcome addiction to Norco.
The safest and most effective way to stop Norco use is under the care of a medical professional. One method is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This approach combines drugs such as buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone with therapy to provide a “whole patient” approach.
Different programs and counseling options help facilitate changes to thought patterns and lifestyle choices around drug use. Options include:
Overcoming addiction to Norco is difficult to do alone. Find treatment today.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “Drug Scheduling.” DEA, https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling
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