Lortab Addiction, Symptoms and Treatment Information

One of the most talked-about narcotics that are available on the market today is Lortab, which is the brand name for a mixture of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Lortab is becoming increasingly recognized for its addictive qualities. As it is commonly used as a painkiller and cough suppressant, Lortab currently ranks as the most highly prescribed opiate in the United States. So, what exactly is Lortab, and what makes it so addictive that it has become part of the “opium epidemic” in the United States? And just how is this addiction treated? Let’s find out.

What is Lortab?

Lortab is a narcotic pain relief medication that is typically prescribed in order to help treat moderate to chronic pain. It is actually a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid that can be taken orally to relieve pain. Acetaminophen, however, is not an opioid but is also commonly used to relieve mild to moderate pain symptoms. When hydrocodone reaches your brain, it changes how your pain receptors respond to painful stimuli. It causes more of the neurochemical dopamine to be created, which, in turn, causes you to feel more euphoric as well as experience less physical pain. In other words, hydrocodone changes the way you perceive pain.

As for acetaminophen, it is there to act as an enhancer of hydrocodone’s pain-relieving effects. Lortab includes 500 mg of acetaminophen in each tablet, which is somewhat higher than other hydrocodone-acetaminophen combinations. While acetaminophen can be effective for short-term use, it is known to cause damage if used for long periods of time, especially renal failure.

Generally-speaking, Lortab is prescribed on a PRN (or “as needed”) basis, although some individuals might be instructed to take it more frequently than this. Your doctor will give you these instructions and likely give you a strong warning to not take higher or more frequent dosages than what is recommended, as Lortab has a strong tendency to become addictive. Additionally, studies have found that long-term use of opioids like hydrocodone actually leads to a statistically significant increase (87%, as one study found) in mortality rates among all causes.

What Makes Lortab Addictive?

So, just what is it that is about Lortab that makes it such an addictive substance for some (but not all) patients who are prescribed it for pain? The answer to this lies in the fact that hydrocodone is a fairly potent opiate. When it releases dopamine in the brain, people tend to feel overcome by a strong sense of positivity, which is something they might not normally experience, especially if they suffer from chronic pain symptoms.

Lortab tolerance can develop as the drug accumulates within your system. This can lead to those who take Lortab taking too high of a dosage at once or taking these pills more times than recommended in one day. Some people feel driven to do this because they long to achieve the same euphoric effects they felt when they first started taking Lortab. Even some individuals with no prior history of addictive behaviors fall victim to this craving, but those with substance abuse histories are more at-risk for developing a dependency to Lortab.

Symptoms of Lortab Addiction

The most clear-cut symptom of an addiction to Lortab is, of course, an increasingly intense craving for the drug. Those who experience these cravings will start taking more than what their doctor has recommended and, once their prescriptions run out, will go to various (and sometimes risky) lengths to acquire more Lortab. If you suspect that your loved one is addicted to Lortab, you might find that they have multiple prescriptions written by different doctors.

However, there are other symptoms of Lortab addiction that you should pay attention to if you suspect that you or your loved one might be addicted. These additional symptoms can include:

  • Hyperventilation or rapid breathing
  • Confusion or disassociation
  • Experiencing hallucinations
  • Feeling increasingly paranoid or exhibiting more paranoid behaviors
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling dizzy or nauseated
  • Loss of hearing abilities
  • Constriction of the pupils (so that they appear to be smaller than normal)
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Physical weakness
  • Development of jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • A decreased heart rate
  • Stomach pain or gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Muscle twitching

Overall, Lortab abuse can take a significant physical and mental toll on individuals. Aside from getting the sweats or chills, feeling increasingly nervous, and experiencing bodily stiffness or aches, prolonged abuse of Lortab can lead to a specific type of liver failure known as fulminant hepatic necrosis. It can also lead to respiratory and heart failure as well as slowed breathing when consumed with alcohol.

Outpatient Treatment of Lortab Addiction

If you or your loved one are willing to try it, there are outpatient therapies for opioid addiction. There are different outpatient clinics located throughout the United States that provide specific detoxification treatments for opioid addiction. You will have to go through an intake process where you are given an in-depth psychological assessment. This allows doctors to determine the right detox path for you.

Detoxing usually involves being medically administered buprenorphine, which is able to decrease dependence, lessen the euphoric effect, and reduce a patient’s cravings for opioids. When done as part of outpatient therapy, the patient is allowed to leave and go about their daily life after receiving a round of treatment from their doctor.

Inpatient Treatment of Lortab Addiction

Of course, some opioid dependencies are much more severe and long-lasting than others. In those cases, outpatient treatment might not be sufficient, especially if a person has tried to quit cold turkey (which is not recommended) and is experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient treatment for opioid addictions is relatively similar to outpatient treatment in terms of the drugs that are administered. The biggest difference is that the patient will be staying on-campus at a treatment facility for the extent of their therapy. On the average, a person will need to stay in the treatment center for about 28 days, although more intense detox programs could take 60 or even 90 days to complete.

Regardless of which form of therapy you or your loved one end up undergoing for Lortab addiction, it is important to keep in mind that there is hope for recovery. While legislation is in the works to change how opioid abuse can be prevented and treated in the United States, there are options available for starting the recovery journey.


Further Reading:

Lortab Side Effects
Lortab Withdrawal
Acetaminophen Side Effects
Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
How to Detox from Hydrocodone