Norco is a prescription opioid drug that contains hydrocodone, a powerful painrelieving medication. Like other opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin, the drug is an opioid agonist, which means that it is an opioid drug that produces physical changes when it attaches to receptors.
Doctors primarily prescribe Norco as a medication to treat pain. They may prescribe this medication to people with severe or chronic pain who have not received relief from other medications. Since Norco contains hydrocodone, the United States DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has placed the drug on its list of schedule II controlled substances. This means that while there are accepted uses for this drug medically, there is also a significant chance that people may abuse it or become dependent upon it.
It has chemical properties that make Norco similar to other types of opioid agonists. The hydrocodone in Norco binds to opioid receptors in the user’s central nervous system (CNS). This attachment stimulates neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Such stimulation alters how a person perceives pain and may enhance and stimulate euphoria. This is one of the main reasons why people abuse drugs such as Norco.
Norco also contains another drug, acetaminophen. Experts believe that acetaminophen also affects the user’s central nervous system. They believe it helps increase the user’s pain threshold. It does this by impairing some enzymes that are involved in the creation of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormones that aid in the healing process.
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Vicodin and Norco
Vicodin is a drug that is similar to Norco. They are both narcotic drugs that are often prescribed for managing pain. They both contain acetaminophen and hydrocodone. The drugs have different dosages of ingredients, however:
- Vicodin has 5 mg of hydrocodone and 300 mg of acetaminophen
- Vicodin ES tablets have 7.5 mg of hydrocodone and 300 mg of acetaminophen
- Vicodin HP tablets have 10 mg of hydrocodone and 300 mg of acetaminophen
- Norco has 5, 7.5, or 10 mg of hydrocodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen
Regardless of its ingredients, it is possible to become dependent on and addicted to opioid drugs such as Norco. If you have become addicted to any dosage of Norco or another drug, there are treatment centers available to help you overcome your addiction.
Norco’s Effects on the Mind and Body
Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid. This means that people create it from natural opioids, in this case, thebaine and codeine. Doctors often prescribe Norco for treating pain and coughs. It can cause someone to feel sedated or euphoric. This is especially true when people use it with other types of drugs or alcohol.
Using Norco in higher doses may produce some potentially dangerous side effects. The side effects may also occur when using hydrocodone with other types of drugs. Some common Norco side effects include the following:
- Slowed thinking
- Slowed physical movements
If you experience side effects that will not go away or that concern you, contact your doctor, head to the emergency room, or call 911 right away. You may also experience more severe side effects when taking Norco. The side effects may include:
- Shallow, slow, or stopped breathing
- Allergic reactions
- Liver damage
- Low WBC (white blood cell count), which increases your risk of infections
- Reduced platelet counts, which increases your risk of bruising and bleeding
- Adrenal gland problems
- Dependence, abuse, or addiction
People who use Norco and experience any of these side effects should seek medical help.
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Symptoms of Withdrawal
Dependence may occur if people use Norco and other drugs that contain hydrocodone for long periods of time. If people stop taking hydrocodone abruptly, they might experience symptoms of withdrawal. Some of these symptoms might include the following:
- Increased breathing rates and heart rates
- Sleep problems
- Anxiety, irritability, restlessness
- Vomiting, nausea, and diminished appetites
- Diarrhea and stomach cramps
- Pain or weakness in the muscles, joints, and back
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
- Goosebumps, chills, or sweating
- Excessive yawning
- Dilated (widened) pupils
When you develop a tolerance to hydrocodone, stop taking it, then start using it again, you may experience dangerous and severe reactions. You could may even overdose on the drug, which may be fatal.
Signs of Overdose
If people experience acetaminophen and hydrocodone overdoses, they could encounter various symptoms, including:
- Decreases in blood pressure and weakened pulse
- Slowed, shallow breathing, or stopped breathing
- Bluish fingernails or lips
- Lightheadness, dizziness, or confusion
- Drowsiness, fatigue, or weakness
- Coma or loss of consciousness
- Clammy or cold skin
- Smaller pupils
- Muscle twitching
- Yellow eyes and skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Intestinal and stomach spasms
Anyone experiencing a drug overdose should receive immediate medical attention.
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Using Norco and other opioids may cause people to become dependent on the drugs. People may even develop an addiction to the drug. Becoming physically dependent on this drug can happen whether someone has been abusing the drug or not. Anyone who takes this drug, or ones that are similar to it, may need to attend a medical detox program to wean from the drug in a safe, less painful manner.
Withdrawing from opioids is not always dangerous, but people who do not receive close monitoring may increase their risks of using drugs again and overdosing on them. Overdoses can be fatal. By providing medication and/or other forms of support, medical detox (detoxification) may allow people to detox more comfortably.
Generally, the symptoms of withdrawal for shorter-acting opioids such as hydrocodone often start around eight to twenty-four hours after a person last uses the drug. Someone might experience acute withdrawal from shorter-acting opioids for around four to ten days after the last use. Symptoms that occur during early withdrawal may include:
- Anxiety and agitation
- Sleep problems and yawning
- Achy muscles
- Runny nose and teary eyes
- Excessive sweating
Symptoms of later opioid withdrawal may include:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Diarrhea and stomach cramps
- Pupil dilation
Those who are experiencing the withdrawal process may feel more vulnerable. They may start using opioids again to stop the withdrawal symptoms they are experiencing. Relapsing during the detox process is common. Unfortunately, it can lead to fatal results.
Some people experience distress, confusion, or depression during their detox process. It is therefore safer to seek professional medical detox to assist you throughout the detox process. Withdrawal symptoms may also worsen other severe illnesses and lead to serious side effects, another reason it is a good idea to undergo the detox process with professional medical assistance.
Along with the acute opioid withdrawal symptoms, you might experience a protracted withdrawal phase. This phase occurs if you feel unwell and have strong cravings for drugs even after you stop using them. You might experience this phase for six months or even more. Some people have stated that they experienced symptoms of the protracted withdrawal phase for years.
Experiencing prolonged symptoms after withdrawal is a phenomenon known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). The syndrome may include symptoms such as:
- Depression or apathy
- Irritability and anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Problems in social situations and with relationships
- Increased sensitivity to stress
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Trouble completing mental tasks
Anyone who has become physically dependent upon drugs such as Norco should consider attending a medical detox program. The individual can be supervised and monitored by medical professionals who are experienced in helping people wean from Norco and other drugs. Since the programs monitor their participants’ medical and mental states, you can rest assured that they will provide effective, experienced care during the entire program.
You may receive some opioid replacement medications or other types of medications to help reduce any symptoms you experience while withdrawing from Norco. These medications may also reduce your risk of experiencing complications during the detox process.
People in detox programs should taper from their original drugs or alcohol slowly over a set period of time. This may reduce withdrawal symptoms from the drugs or alcohol and lower their risk of relapsing. If you want to increase your chances of survival, find assistance, receive medical care, and prevent a relapse, talk to a detox center about your detox and treatment options today.
Of course, if people are dependent on opioids, they require more than just detox. People should follow their detox assistance with a rehab treatment program at a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center. Such treatment may help to treat the addiction itself and any other underlying factors that contribute to it. The programs have helped many people understand and overcome the issues that led to their addiction and may help you as well. They also teach relapse prevention, coping skills, aftercare planning, and more.
Consider finding addiction treatment if you have become dependent upon Norco or other drugs.
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