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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 medication found in prescription cough syrups.
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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.
Other brand names of acetaminophen and hydrocodone include:
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 common side effects of Norco include:
Additionally, more serious adverse effects can include:
Acetaminophen and hydrocodone passes into breast milk and can have serious effects on a nursing child. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or plan to be in the future, speak with your healthcare provider before going on Norco.
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 can cause liver damage 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 result in serious side effects such as liver disease or other liver problems.
In addition, Norco can cause serious skin reactions, which can be fatal. If you develop a skin rash or dark urine while taking the drug, stop use and contact your doctor.
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 and can be life-threatening. High doses of hydrocodone act on the brainstem and can cause breathing problems.
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 911 and seek emergency medical attention 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.
Norco contains hydrocodone, an opioid pain reliever, and acetaminophen, a non-opioid pain reliever. Hydrocodone helps manage pain by depressing the central nervous system, which also has a calming effect. Acetaminophen relieves pain and fevers.
Depending on the dose, the effects of Norco can take 30 to 60 minutes to begin. They usually last between four and eight hours.
Possible side effects include constipation, stomach pain, nausea, jaundice, liver damage, and kidney disease. If mixed with other medication, drug interactions could occur and cause severe adverse effects such as serotonin syndrome can occur.
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