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Lortab Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

Medically reviewed by

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

March 4, 2019

Lortab is a brand name for the painkiller hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is a highly addictive opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain for short periods of time.

What Is Lortab?

Lortab is one of many brand names for the hydrocodone/acetaminophen combination medication used to treat pain. Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid available only by prescription. Lortab is available in pill and liquid form.

Lortab should only be taken for short amounts of time, due to the increased risk for addiction. When taken for long periods of time, the body develops a tolerance for hydrocodone, which means the person needs more Lortab to feel the same relief as before. Often, this leads to a person taking Lortab in a way that is not prescribed, which can lead to addiction.

Lortab Abuse

Taking any medication in a way that is not prescribed is considered substance abuse. Doubling a Lortab dose, taking a dose early, or crushing and snorting Lortab indicates Lortab abuse.

The following signs are a good indication that a person may be using Lortab in a way that has not been approved by the prescribing doctor:

  • persistent drowsiness
  • falling asleep in situations where it is considered unusual
  • shying away from social activities
  • constricted pupils
  • skin rash and itchy
  • slowed breathing
  • confusion
  • nausea
  • constipation

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In addition to the immediate signs of Lortab abuse, there are also long term risks associated with Lortab abuse, especially if Lortab is taken for extended periods of time.

These risks include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • mood swings
  • jaundice
  • psychosis
  • hallucinations
  • coma
  • death

Abusing Lortab also increases the risk for developing a Lortab dependence. Being dependent on Lortab means that a person will need to continue to take Lortab to feel ‘normal’. A person will also experience symptoms of withdrawal if they discontinue Lortab once dependent.

Lortab Addiction

Not everyone who is dependent on Lortab will become addicted. Long-term use of Lortab can lead to dependence, which will result in withdrawal symptoms if the person stops taking Lortab, but dependence and addiction are significantly different.

Some of the signs that indicate Lortab addiction include:

  • drug seeking behaviors (doctor shopping, frequent refill requests, exaggerating symptoms)
  • spending a lot of time finding and using Lortab
  • taking other opioid medications when Lortab runs out
  • using Lortab becomes priority over responsibilities and social activities
  • strong cravings for Lortab
  • using Lortab in dangerous situations
  • unable to decrease or stop using Lortab
  • withdrawal if Lortab is stopped

Lortab Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms occur when a person who is addicted or dependent on Lortab runs out or stops taking Lortab. Some symptoms of withdrawal are mildly uncomfortable, while others border on intolerable. Avoiding withdrawal symptoms are often one of the reasons a person addicted to opioids continues to take them.

Some of the symptoms of Lortab withdrawal include:

  • watery eyes
  • yawning
  • runny nose
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • mood swings
  • muscle aches
  • restless legs
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • body aches (similar to the flu)
  • goosebumps
  • vomiting

While the withdrawal symptoms of Lortab and other opioids are not usually fatal, they are extremely uncomfortable. In general, they have been compared to persistent, intense, and extreme flu-like symptoms that can last up to a week.

Often, a person who is addicted to Lortab will try to stop cold-turkey, only to be met with these symptoms. As the symptoms intensify, the cravings intensify, and the person knows that one pill will stop all of the discomforts. They cave and start using again, not even realizing how close they were to the end of the physical withdrawal symptoms.

This is why it is important to attend a detox program when a person wants to quit taking opioids. Not only will a medically-supervised detox center be equipped to provide medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, but they also can provide information, support, and substance abuse treatment to clients.

Lortab (hydrocodone) Statistics

  • Hydrocodone, including Lortab, is the most prescribed medication in the United States
  • 1.7 percent of high school seniors admitted to abusing hydrocodone, like Lortab
  • It is estimated that 99 percent of all Lortab (and other hydrocodone) abuse occurs in the United States
  • 80 percent of heroin users report that they started abusing prescription opioids before moving on to heroin

Lortab Addiction Treatment

Substance abuse facilities that are equipped to provide rehabilitation to individuals struggling with an opioid use disorder (including Lortab addiction) are referred to as opioid treatment programs (OTP). These programs follow regulations that are designed to make sure that each person receives the most appropriate, evidence-based intervention methods.

These OTP rehab facilities are required to offer:

  • complete assessment and reassessment while in treatment
  • medically supervised detoxification
  • thorough treatment planning with client
  • medical assessment
  • substance abuse counseling
  • vocational and educational services
  • scheduled, consistent aftercare involvement
  • any services not provided by the OTP will be outsourced and monitored until completion

These guidelines are part of a program that has identified the many areas of life that are affected by opioid addiction. By offering this type of comprehensive addiction treatment services, outcomes have supported that this approach is quite successful in treating opioid addiction, like Lortab.

Our addiction specialists can help you find a substance abuse treatment facility that can help treat Lortab addiction and start the road to recovery for you or your loved one. Contact us today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Monitoring the Future

Drug Enforcement Administration - Hydrocodone

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Federal Guidelines For Opioid Treatment Programs

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