Norco Abuse And Addiction Signs
Medically reviewed byIsaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC
February 14, 2019
Norco is a prescription opioid with a very high potential for abuse. Abusing Norco, as well as other opioids, can lead to a serious addiction problem. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a Norco addiction can be the first step to getting a loved one into treatment.
What Is Norco?
Norco is a made up of a combination of hydrocodone, a semisynthetic narcotic analgesic, and acetaminophen, also a pain relieving medication. Hydrocodone is used for pain management, specifically for those patients experiencing moderate to moderately severe measures of pain. Hydrocodone has an analgesic potency comparable to morphine, while other sources cite that it is more potent that its parent drug, codeine. Norco is a Schedule II controlled substance.
Prescription drug abuse has changed the landscape of drug abuse and addiction. Many prescribed medications, especially opioid pain relievers, are being misused and diverted in a way that creates a dangerous cycle of abuse and addiction.
Hydrocodone products are typically abused orally versus intravenous injection. When used in amounts higher than prescribed, hydrocodone creates a sense of well-being and pleasure in an individual; it is this sense of euphoria that fuels patterns of abuse and addiction.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), “Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opioid in the United States and is associated with more drug abuse and diversion than any other licit or illicit opioid.”
Signs Of Norco Abuse
In order to confront concerns of abuse and addiction, it is important to understand various behavioral cues that may indicate these issues, especially as these negative and damaging patterns may rise even in individuals who have a prescription for this drug. Abuse occurs when a person chooses to use a drug in a way other than how it was prescribed, such as altering the dosage—this occurs by increasing the dose or frequency of use.
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In many cases, an individual with medical concerns that warrant a prescription for this drug may not realize that they are abusing their medication. This often occurs as they take it upon themselves to adjust their dosage in an attempt to address their concerns of pain. Even though they are doing this to address a valid medical concern, doing so without the guidance of their doctor is regarded as drug abuse. This can be a dangerous move, as these changes may increase a person’s tolerance, creating dependence, and opening them up to the possibility of addiction.
Beyond this, many individuals may use this drug in a recreational manner for the high and euphoric state these drugs produce, as well as a reduction of anxiety. DailyMed offers the following signs of drug seeking behavior that are commonly linked to drug abuse and addiction. The patient:
- visits doctor’s offices near the end of the clinic’s day
- makes emergency calls
- will not accept the required examination or tests
- fails to provide medical records or information on past/current providers
- “doctor shops”— moves from clinic to clinic, to obtain prescriptions
If you notice yourself exhibiting these tendencies, or witness them in a loved one, there are grounds for concern. Beyond this, a person’s daily routines and actions may become altered in other ways. They may become more secretive or defensive of their actions. They may increasingly exhibit a decreased interest in activities or responsibilities that previously were important to them or brought them enjoyment, such as those related to their family, schooling, or job.
As a person’s use accelerates, they may go to great measures to ensure they have access to the drug, doing things they normally wouldn’t do to obtain the drug, such as stealing, while also failing in their attempt to stop using the drug, despite knowledge of the harm and consequences. At this time, they may increasingly have strong urges to use the drug and do so daily, or multiple times a day, sometimes mixing the drug with other drugs in an attempt to heighten the high. In addition, a person who suffers from drug abuse or addiction will also manifest a variety of other physical or mental symptoms.
Signs Of Norco Addiction
Any drug abuse and addiction changes a person. These changes are manifested in a variety of ways, most notably by physical and mental changes. This is because your body is affronted by the drug in a way that begins, and continues to, actually change the way your brain’s neurochemistry processes. Due to this, various bodily functions begin to malfunction, working too little, or too much. Some side effects may include:
- extreme constipation
- dizziness or nausea
- respiratory depression
- retaining higher amounts of urine
- confusion or clouded thoughts
- rash or itching
- narrowed pupils
- anxiety or agitation
- suppressed appetite
- loss of coordination
- quickened heartbeat
Should you begin to witness any combination of these symptoms, don’t hesitate. The sooner you ask for help, either for yourself, or your loved one, the lesser the amount of damage this drug may exert.
Norco Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal is indicative of dependence and/or addiction. If a person abruptly ceases using Norco, including prescribed use for five days, all day, they may exhibit the following symptoms:
- dilated pupils
- runny nose
- intense itching
- chills, sweating and/or fever
- nausea and/or vomiting
- flu-like symptoms
- decreased appetite
- changes in sleep patterns
- irritability or mood swings
- anxiety, depression, or a dysphoric state
- heart palpitations
- craving the drug
If you’re aware that a loved one abuses Norco, and you observe any of these symptoms, there may be circumstances of addiction. Withdrawal from opiates can be very severe and uncomfortable and should not be attempted without medical supervision. In many instances, a person may greatly benefit from medical detoxification, following by the appropriate treatment.
Taking It Too Far—Signs Of A Norco Overdose
As Norco, like every hydrocodone-containing medication, is a Schedule II drug, it has a serious potential for abuse and addiction. Like most opioids, taken in the context of abuse or addiction, this drug may cause an overdose, which in some circumstances could result in a fatality. What is unique about this drug, is that due to its combination makeup, the overdose could result from toxicity due either to hydrocodone, acetaminophen, or cumulative effects of both. Because of this, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of toxicity for both drugs.
Though acetaminophen is not addictive, it can cause great harm to a person’s body, including death. Acetaminophen overdose may actually occur over time, as a person uses too much on a regular basis the toxicity in their body climbs, this is called a staggered overdose. Because of this, a person abusing Norco could overdose over time, or experience an acute overdose from an excess of drugs taken too quickly all at one time.
What is frightening in terms of acetaminophen dosages, is that there is a narrow margin between that which is considered therapeutic and that which can cause toxicity. Due to this, a person who takes this drug recreationally, for the effects of the hydrocodone, may take such an amount, that this staggered overdose happens more quickly. An overdose of acetaminophen may cause organ failure, including acute liver failure, which could, in the worst cases result in an emergency organ transplant or death.
Signs of an acetaminophen overdose:
- suppressed appetite
- intense fatigue
- skin or eyes becomes yellow
- bleeding or bruising
- upper right area of the stomach becomes painful
- flu-like symptoms
Signs of a hydrocodone overdose:
- becoming intensely tired or drowsy
- skin is cold and clammy, or takes on a blue tinge
- pupils become either more narrowed or widened
- slowed or interrupted breathing
- decreased or stopped heart rate
- losing consciousness
If you suspect that you, or someone close to you, may be in danger of a Norco overdose or currently experiencing one, seek medical help immediately, in order to prevent organ damage and even death.
Additional Concerns And Dangers
The combination of drugs in Norco has the potential to damage a person on many levels. Even moderate levels of Norco abuse can create a toxic burden, altering the way important physiological functions work. As we’ve noted above, this toxicity may occur slowly, over time, due to acetaminophen’s toxic potential. Unfortunately, in the world of drug abuse and addiction, some people are not content with only one drug’s high, instead seeking to intensify the pleasurable state by polydrug, or multiple drug use and abuse.
For individuals choosing to combine this medication with alcohol, serious adverse effects may result. Research presented by the American Public Health Association illustrates that two behaviors that are typically without great risk alone—taking therapeutic doses of acetaminophen, or consuming moderate to light amounts of alcohol—may actually increase the risk of renal (kidney) dysfunction by 123 percent when combined.
Benzodiazepine drugs, such as Valium and Xanax, are some of the most widely abused prescription drugs after prescription opioid painkillers. Many times, individuals who abuse this class of drugs do so by using them adjunctly with other medications or drugs. Doing so with Norco, or any opioid analgesic may be very dangerous, causing coma and even fatalities, as cautioned by the FDA.
Norco Addiction Treatment
An opioid addiction may be best approached by initiating a medical detox as the first step towards sobriety and wellness. After this, various treatment programs exist, some even within the same facility, which can address your addiction and any other concerns which may aggravate your substance use disorder, including any co-occurring disorders. Moderate to severe instances of addiction may be better approached within an inpatient drug rehab program.
Good treatment may be a combination of behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy; various medications, relapse prevention, family therapy and support, and various other engaging treatment modalities like art therapy, equine assisted therapy, or adventure therapy.
RehabCenter.net is a comprehensive resource to help you, or a loved one, begin a better life free from addiction. Contact us today to learn about detox and various treatment options that can fully address Norco abuse and addiction.Article Sources
Drug Enforcement Agency - Drug Fact Sheet: Hydrocodone
PubMed Health - Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen (By mouth)
MedlinePlus - Acetaminophen
MedlinePlus - Hydrocodone Combination Products