Norco is the brand name for a product containing both acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic (i.e. opioid) analgesic, and acetaminophen is a non-opioid used in pain and fever relief. Together the two components work to change how the brain receives and experiences pain responses and to reduce inflammation. Norco is thus a combination medicine, so an individual taking Norco is just as likely to become subjected to Norco addiction and abuse as anyone else taking opioids.
The term Norco is often used interchangeably with that of Vicodin, but the two are not the same. While both drugs contain acetaminophen and hydrocodone, the crux of the difference in Norco vs Vicodin is in the proportion of ingredients used in the formulation of each. Vicodin contains less hydrocodone and more acetaminophen.
Norco’s formulation may interact with CNS depressants including antihistamines, sedatives and anesthetics, and may result in severe side effects or even death if taken in conjunction with other drugs or products.
When prescribed Norco is provided in tablet form in one of two strengths and is taken orally via an extended-release capsule. It is not recommended that Norco tablets be chewed, crushed or broken prior to consumption.
Common Street Names for Norco
Because of its hydrocodone, street names for Norco often include those used for other prescription opioids, including Vikes, Hydro and Perks. Norco tablets may also be referred to as tabs.
Common brand names associated with Norco include:
- Dolorex Forte
Norco is considered a Schedule III controlled substance, meaning that it is a drug with potential for abuse, but that has accepted medical uses within the United States. Such drugs are considered to have a low-moderate risk of physical dependence or a high risk of psychological dependence.
History and Trends in Norco Addiction and Abuse
Norco addiction is resulting in users seeking the drug on the street, where it is available in non-standard formulations and lookalike counterfeit pills. Recent reports of Norco pills laced with fentanyl have arisen in some states of the US, indicating both a growing demand for the product on the street as well as heightened risk for users. The reports have led to a CDC alert.
As with any prescription medication, abuse of Norco by teens and youth is also a concern. The availability of the product at home, as well as perceptions of safety related to prescription medication can lead to experimentation. This may in turn result in addiction, or worse severe side effects.
Side effects of Norco
The side effects of Norco can be varied due to its combination medication status. As noted in the Norco vs Vicodin differentiation above, the higher proportion of hydrocodone in the former means that opioid-based side effects may be noted.
Common side effects include:
- cough suppression
- respiratory depression
- blood vessel constriction
Serious side effects include anxiety, hearing difficulties, urinary tract issues, respiratory issues and heart problems. In extreme cases these may lead to a comatose state or even death.
Norco side effects can be made worse when taken in conjunction with other drugs or with alcohol. Acetaminophen has been linked with liver injury and failure, especially when taken in non-prescribed amounts or over a long period time.
Elderly or debilitated patients, as well as those with liver, kidney, urinary or respiratory issues are generally considered at higher risk of experiencing adverse effects when taking Norco. These individuals, along with those with a history of abusing narcotics, should be monitored for signs of evident side effects as well as signs of Norco addiction and abuse behavior.
Withdrawal symptoms of Norco
Norco withdrawal symptoms include chills and fever, tremors and shakes, emotional distress and agitation, gastrointestinal issues, aches and pains and dilated pupils. Generally withdrawal symptoms are linked to the opioid hydrocodone, and thus are similar to those seen when withdrawing from other narcotic substances. Babies of mothers using or addicted to Norco may be at risk of severe withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment for Norco Addiction and Abuse
Norco addiction behavior includes taking more than the prescribed amount of Norco, taking the drug without a prescription, seeking appointments with multiple health professions in order to obtain additional subscriptions, withdrawing from social activities and demonstrating withdrawal symptoms.
Stable living environments combined with counseling and individual treatment can help manage Norco addiction. A Norco addiction detox is recommended for those with a Norco dependency, or for younger users who may subsequently turn to other opioids if their addiction escalates.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a Norco addiction, seek help. Contact us at White Sands Tampa regarding our Norco addiction detox programs. 1-877-640-7820.