Lortab Addiction And The Best Rehab Centers For Treatment
Medically reviewed byIsaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC
February 12, 2019
Lortab is a brand name of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is an effective opioid pain reliever while acetaminophen offers more localized non-opioid pain relief. The combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone is one of the most popular prescriptions written in the United States and is available orally via tablet, solution, syrup, or an elixir.
How Lortab Works To Relieve Pain
Lortab includes two primary compounds: hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opioid compound. While it is not as potent a narcotic as other opioids on the market for pain relief, it is still effective for reducing moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone works by raising the body’s tolerance to pain.
When the body is exerted, endogenous, a natural opioid neurotransmitter, attaches to opioid receptors in the brain and along the central nervous system and the body’s internal organs. This natural process of alleviating or reducing pain in the body generates a release of dopamine, which normally is perceived as relief.
The hydrocodone in Lortab, mimics the natural opioid neurotransmitters, attaching to opioid receptors and elevating the pain threshold significantly. The resulting flood of excess dopamine leaves the user feeling euphoric, more than relieved.
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Acetaminophen is not an opioid, and instead works by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzymes, which in turn prevents the release of prostaglandins, or lipid compounds, which can produce pain and inflammation when cells are damaged. It works primarily within the central nervous system, and not in the body’s periphery. Due to its limitations, it is not a strong analgesic on its own.
When combined acetaminophen and hydrocodone create an effective all-encompassing pain relief strategy. The drug, however, is associated with many dangers from liver damage to addiction.
Is Lortab Addictive?
Lortab is addictive for two primary reasons. The first is that it stops pain. For someone who is suffering with chronic pain, the relief is enormous and a psychological addiction can form. The second reason Lortab is addictive is due to opioids in the drug. Opioid drugs like lortab have an effect on the body in raising the pain threshold and thereby releasing a flood of dopamine. Dopamine is connected to the reward centers of the brain. Dopamine is naturally released when we eat a good meal, rest after a hard run, or have sex.
It is the body’s evolutionary brain. It directs us toward activities that keep us alive and perpetuate existence of the species. When these centers are activated during uptake of opioids, they are activated at higher levels than experienced in any other survival activity. Quite literally, the body begins to equate opioids with life sustenance, craving the drug over food and water.
Someone chasing the euphoria associated with use of Lortab, may increase their dose. Apart from the life-threatening dangers of increasing acetaminophen levels in the body, a tolerance to the drug can generate some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, agitation, gastrointestinal upset, sensitivity to light, headaches, achiness, muscle spasms, bone pain, and depression. The severity of these symptoms may perpetuate abuse of the drug.
Those most at risk for Lortab dependency include those who are suffering from chronic severe pain, those predisposed to addiction behavior, and individuals who were raised in households where abuse of alcohol or other drugs were common.
Adverse Health Effects Of Lortab
It is a commonly held belief that legally prescribed drugs are safer than those available on the street. However, each day more people die from overdose relating to prescriptions to pain medications like lortab than from cocaine or heroin. These drugs contain compounds that are designed to be used in prescribed doses, but addiction often leads to an increase in both dosage and duration of use.
Commons side effects from use of Lortab include shallow breathing, slowing of heart rate, stomach upset, drowsiness, headache, blurred vision, and jaundice. Signs of lortab abuse are often more serious.
Symptoms Of Lortab Abuse Include:
- anxiety over next dose
- mood changes
- impulsive behaviors
- involuntary muscle movement
- loss of focus or confusion
In addition to abuse concerns, the acetaminophen found in lortab can generate long-term and life-threatening side effects when taken in higher than prescribed doses. When the metabolite associated with acetaminophen is too abundant, it accumulates in the liver tissue.
Hydrocodone is damaging to the liver and can increase liver toxicity when used in combination with acetaminophen. Symptoms of Lortab overdose include abdominal pain, gastrointestinal upset, cold clammy skin, jaundice, convulsions, and coma. These symptoms may lead to life-threatening complications and must be addressed by a medical professional immediately.
If you or someone you love begins acting irrationally about how many pills are remaining in their bottle, or wishes to switch doctors frequently, or claims to have lost their prescription, this may be a sign of dependency on lortab.
Treatment For Lortab Addiction
Those who have become physically dependent on lortab will require a combination detox and support program designed to help offset withdrawal symptoms. Tapering off the drug is recommended under medical supervision. Ongoing counselling as well as treating issues underlying the addiction is also recommended as part of a recovery plan.
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