Lortab Withdrawal And Detox: Signs, Symptoms, And Timeline

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Lortab Withdrawal And Detox: Signs, Symptoms, And Timeline

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

May 1, 2019

Lortab withdrawal can be an uncomfortable process. People may commonly experience extreme flu-like symptoms, as well as anxiety and muscle aches. While Lortab detox symptoms are not often life-threatening, medical detox programs can be helpful to treat severe discomfort.

Lortab is a prescription opioid that contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. Lortab is most commonly used to treat pain and comes in pill or liquid form.

Like most other opioids, Lortab has a high potential for abuse and addiction. A common sign of Lortab abuse is taking it in any way other than prescribed. This can include taking larger or more frequent doses. Misuse of Lortab can increase the risk of drug dependence and withdrawal.

Lortab Dependence And Withdrawal

Drug dependence occurs when the brain and body become dependent on a substance. People who increase their doses on their own, or take Lortab without a prescription may put themselves at risk for drug dependence.

Lortab interacts with parts of the brain that control pleasure and our internal reward system. This can reinforce a person to want to continue taking the drug. Taking Lortab by smoking, snorting, or injecting it may also result in more rapid dependence and addiction.

There are several reasons a person may take Lortab, such as for pain relief or the feelings of relaxation and euphoria that can occur with high doses. This is sometimes referred to as an opioid high and can be addictive.

People that become dependent on Lortab may experience withdrawal symptoms within hours of their last dose. If another dose is not taken, these symptoms may grow worse before easing.

Early signs of Lortab withdrawal may include:

  • feeling uneasy or agitated
  • experiencing strong drug cravings
  • mild stomach pain
  • nausea

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Lortab Withdrawal Symptoms

People who take a moderate dose of Lortab may develop a tolerance to its effects in as little as a few weeks. In these cases, doctors may prescribe a higher dose or suggest an alternative treatment.

Those who are dependent on Lortab may experience several physical and psychological symptoms after they stop taking the drug. Over the span of a week or so, symptoms will often become more intense before they begin to ease.

The appearance of some of these symptoms can be split into two stages of an early and late withdrawal.

Early symptoms of withdrawal may include:

  • mild to severe flu-like symptoms (e.g. sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • yawning
  • runny nose
  • stomach pain
  • muscle and joint pain
  • agitation

Late-stage symptoms of Lortab withdrawal may include:

  • harsher stomach pain
  • dilated pupils
  • diarrhea
  • goosebumps
  • intense nausea and vomiting

Lortab Detox Timeline

The exact timeline of Lortab withdrawal can vary for each person, depending on several factors. Most often, it can last between one to two weeks.

After stopping the use of Lortab, it takes some time for the drug to be processed through your system. Early withdrawal symptoms are likely to begin within 12 hours of your last dose.

This signals the beginning of the acute stage of withdrawal, which lasts about a week. Symptoms during this time most often peak between 36 and 48 hours after the last dose.

After the first week of withdrawal, some people may continue experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and drug cravings. This can be a sign of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) which can be treated with certain medications and therapy.

Factors that can affect the timeline of withdrawal include:

  • age
  • severity of dependence
  • body size (BMI)
  • physical health
  • genetics
  • polysubstance abuse

A general timeline of Lortab withdrawal is as follows:

Between 0 and 48 hours: The earliest withdrawal symptoms often set in within 12 hours of a person’s last dose. This can include anxiety, agitation, as well as some physical discomfort. As people near the 48-hour mark, these symptoms may become more intense. Other symptoms, including excessive sweating and other severe flu-like symptoms, may also arise.

Days 3 to 4: Symptoms commonly reach their peak around the third day of withdrawal. This is an uncomfortable stage of moderate to severe physical and mental distress. A potential health concern during this time is dehydration, which can result from severe diarrhea and vomiting.

Days 4 to 7: After the first three to four days, most physical symptoms will begin to subside. Some physical weakness may persist during this time. Rest is still encouraged during this time to allow the body to regain its strength.

One week and beyond: After the first week, most physical symptoms will have waned. Some physical weakness, psychological symptoms, and drug cravings may linger. Symptoms that persist after two weeks may be helped with treatment.

How To Detox From Lortab

Unlike severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, opioid withdrawal symptoms are unlikely to be life-threatening. However, the process can be very distressing and difficult for most people to manage alone.

Detoxing from home or without medical support is not recommended. This can increase a person’s risk for relapse and put them at risk for potential health concerns.

The safest and most effective method for withdrawing from opioids like Lortab is to enter a medical detox program.

Medically Assisted Detox

Medical detox programs provide 24-hour supervision and support within a facility or hospital for people undergoing alcohol or drug withdrawal. During this time, doctors may provide certain medicines to ease physical discomfort and cravings, and keep the patient hydrated and nourished.

The most common medicines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid withdrawal are:

  • Buprenorphine (Subutex): A drug that can sometimes be used to shorten the length of the detox process or prevent withdrawal symptoms from becoming too severe.
  • Naltrexone: This is sometimes prescribed after acute withdrawal for long-term maintenance to help prevent relapse.
  • Clonidine: A sedative that can ease anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, and the severe flu-like symptoms of withdrawal. However, it is not known to reduce drug cravings.
  • Methadone: This may help reduce the severity of some symptoms during withdrawal. In some cases, it can also be used long-term to treat opioid dependence. Before stopping use, you may need to consult your doctor to help taper your dosage.

Depending on how long symptoms persist, some medications may be taken for months or even years as needed, while others may be used short-term. Medications for long-term maintenance can help reduce a person’s cravings and help them remain sober for lifelong recovery.

Treatment For Lortab Abuse And Addiction

The detox process is often just the first step in a person’s recovery from drug dependence and addiction. After detoxing from Lortab, many people may require an inpatient program to continue their addiction treatment.

Inpatient treatment programs can last between 30 to 180 days, or longer depending on a person’s needs. These programs may offer counseling, group therapy, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to address all physical, mental, and emotional aspects of a person’s substance abuse.

The early stages of sobriety can be rough, physically and emotionally. This type of program can offer the type of structure and support most people with a history of addiction need in order to pursue lifelong recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Lortab abuse, don’t wait to seek treatment. Call us today to learn more about Lortab abuse and addiction treatment options.

U.S National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Hydrocodone Combination Products, Opiate and opioid withdrawal

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment

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