Lorcet (Acetaminophen/Hydrocodone) Abuse and Addiction: A Deadly Combination
Lorcet is a commonly prescribed medication that helps treat around-the-clock pain that’s moderate to severe. For some, using Lorcet can be an absolute life saver.
However, the combination of drugs that make up this medication can lead to a host of both short-term and long-term consequences, many of which can end up causing permanent (and even life-threatening) damage.
As such, it’s important to know a few things about this drug in particular as well as what separates it from the many other similar drugs on the market today.
Lorcet: What Is It?
Amytal Sodium is a drug that is a barbiturate derivative. It produces sensations of sedation for those who take it. This medication is also a hypnotic. It was first developed in 1923 in Germany.
Lorcet is a prescription medication used to treat moderate to severe pain in patients over a short-term period. It’s composed of two pain relievers: acetaminophen and hydrocodone, a semi-synthetic opioid that comes from codeine.
Both acetaminophen and hydrocodone are used individually to treat pain, though varying degrees of it. Acetaminophen, for example, is a general pain reliever and fever reducer and is sold under such brands as Tylenol, Anacin AF, and Actamin.
Hydrocodone, on the other hand, is a bit more heavy duty. This opioid is only available via a licensed physician and is typically prescribed to treat constant, severe pain.
Hydrocodone can be habit-forming so there are more restrictions surrounding its use than with acetaminophen.
While hydrocodone is a powerful pain reliever on its own, the addition of acetaminophen in Lorcet actually intensifies the analgesic effects of the opioid and provides even greater pain relief.
The combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen is marketed under a number of different brand names including:
- Dolorex Forte
One of the biggest differences between Lorcet and other opioids is the fact that this drug uses a combination of the opioid hydrocodone along with the additional pain reliever acetaminophen to boost the opioid’s potency.
There are several other drugs on the market that contain this same combination of drugs. However, the main difference between them is that the proportions of the chemicals vary.
Lorcet, for example, comes in doses that contain 5mg of hydrocodone along with 325mg of acetaminophen. This is sometimes notated as Lorcet 5/325.
Another brand with this same drug combination is Lortab. It follows similar dosage patterns but also offers a liquid solution called Lortab Elixir which is composed of 10mg of hydrocodone, 300mg of acetaminophen, and also 7% alcohol per 15ml dose.
The most recognizable substance that’s similar to Lorcet, however, is likely Vicodin. This drug also comes in varying potencies including 5/300, 7.5/300, and 10/300 versions.
As you can see, both Vicodin and Lorcet come in the same doses and, as such, are both equally dangerous. This might come as a bit of a shock to most people as Vicodin is often one of the major drugs cited as being a problematic contributor to the growing opioid epidemic.
However, it’s important to realize that even though you may not recognize the name Lorcet as much as you do Vicodin, the truth is that they both have the same risk of launching you into a destructive and potentially fatal opioid addiction.
As a prescription drug, Lorcet abuse is generally characterized as using it in any way other than how it is prescribed. Some of the most common ways of abusing Lorcet include:
- Taking Lorcet in higher doses than prescribed
- Using a different method of consuming Lorcet than prescribed (e.g. snorting or injecting Lorcet)
- Selling or trading Lorcet for other substances
- Purposefully mixing Lorcet with other substances like other opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol to get a stronger effect
The DEA reports that abuse of hydrocodone is incredibly prolific today. In fact, since 2009 it has been the “second most frequently encountered opioid pharmaceutical in drug evidence submitted to federal, state, and local forensic laboratories.”
What’s more, Americans today consume about 99 percent of the global supply of hydrocodone.
Lorcet and other combinations of acetaminophen and hydrocodone are currently labeled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule II drug due to it containing a potentially addictive opioid. Before its change to this classification in 2014 though it was classified as a Schedule III substance, making it much easier to obtain.
Since its reclassification, prescriptions for this opioid have fallen to an enormous degree. In 2012 for example, hydrocodone products were the #1 prescribed medication in America with 136 million prescriptions filled. The number of prescriptions has since fallen to 90 million, marking a significant reduction.
As an opioid, Lorcet can (and does) cause physical dependency and eventual addiction.
Recognizing the signs of being addicted to Lorcet, however, is the first step on the road to recovering from this substance use disorder. And while recognizing the signs of addiction in others can be tough, it may be even harder for you to notice the signals in yourself.
After all, denial can be an incredibly powerful force.
As such, one of the best ways of acknowledging that you have a problem is by looking at your behaviors objectively and comparing them to those of a substance abuser or addict.
An online addiction quiz is one of the best ways to accomplish just that. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to complete and afterwards, you’ll have a much clearer idea on whether you actually have a Lorcet addiction or not.
If you’re looking for a bit more comprehensive approach to testing your level of addiction, you can always evaluate yourself according to the standards set out by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Their 11-point criteria (provided by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse) will give you an even better indication of how bad your Lorcet abuse has really gotten and may end up being the final push you need to seek out professional help so you can get clean.
What Is Lorcet Withdrawal?
As your body builds up a tolerance to the consistent presence of Lorcet, it undergoes a variety of physical and chemical changes in order to return to homeostasis. It may, for example, alter the release of certain enzymes that regulate impulses in the brain so as to make the effects of Lorcet less potent.
These changes help keep the body from becoming overwhelmed when Lorcet is consistently present. However, once Lorcet is removed entirely, the changes can actually result in a number of unpleasant side effects caused by the body trying to recover.
These side effects are called “withdrawals” and when it comes to opioids like Lorcet, the symptoms of withdrawal can be especially uncomfortable. In fact, opioid withdrawals are considered to be some of the worst out of all illicit drugs being abused today.
According to Mental Health Daily, some of the symptoms of Lorcet withdrawal include:
- Abominal cramps
- Appetite changes
- Flu-like symptoms
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Pupil dilation
- Runny nose
- Suicidal thoughts
- Rapid heart rate
- Poor concentration
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Body aches
It’s worth mentioning that not everyone responds to Lorcet withdrawal the same way. As a result, you may experience all of these symptoms or you might only go through a few.
What’s more, the timeline of Lorcet withdrawals is also highly individualized. However, the acute stages when the symptoms are most intense will generally last from about 7 to 10 days after your last dose. Less severe symptoms may persist for several weeks.
Like many other opioids, Lorcet has a number of notable short-term side effects worth mentioning. Besides the immediate effects for which Lorcet is often prescribed (pain relief, sedation, etc.), Lorcet users may also experience the following symptoms as provided by MedlinePlus:
- Dry throat
- Narrowing of the pupils
- Difficulty urinating
- Abnormally happy or abnormally sad mood
- Fuzzy thinking
- Slowed or irregular breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular menstruation
- Decreased sexual desire
- Chest tightness
- Inability to get or keep an erection
- Fast heartbeat
- Severe muscle stiffness or twitching confusion
- Loss of coordination
While physical dependency and eventual addiction are some of the most damaging long-term side effects that may come about as a result of continued Lorcet abuse, there are a number of other pitfalls this habit may bring as well.
For example, persistent overuse of acetaminophen has been shown to lead to hepatotoxicity, or the damaging of the liver. Researchers have found that more than 4g per day can cause permanent and potentially life-threatening damage to this vital organ.
The threat is further compounded by the fact that many people may unwittingly take more acetaminophen than planned, often in the form of cold medicines, general pain relievers, and antacids. It’s vital, then, that anyone taking Lorcet should be aware of other common drugs that contain acetaminophen as well.
In addition to liver problems, Lorcet and other opioids may also be linked to a significant deterioration of the brain’s white matter due to a condition known as hypoxia.
This condition is characterized by a decreased amount of oxygen reaching the brain due to the depressed respiration commonly caused by many opioids. Research is currently being done to establish whether or not this link exists.
Long-term abuse of Lorcet has also been found to cause other conditions such as:
- Hearing loss
- Chronic constipation
And finally, overdosing on Lorcet can be incredibly dangerous and even fatal in certain instances.
Signs of Lorcet Overdose
One of the most notable dangers of Lorcet abuse is the risk of overdosing. As with any other narcotic substance, taking too much Lorcet may result in a number of dangerous side effects, some of which may actually be fatal.
As a result, it’s absolutely essential that you know how to spot the signs of a Lorcet overdose so you can get the medical attention you need.
According to MedlinePlus, some of the most noticeable signs of Lorcet overdose are:
- Breathing problems, including slow and labored breathing, shallow breathing, or no breathing
- Cold and clammy skin
- Loss of consciousness
- Muscle twitches
- Weak pulse
- Stomach and intestine spasms
- Tiny pupils
- Low blood pressure
- Liver failure
- Bluish-colored fingernails and lips
If you notice any of these signs, call 911 or the national poison control hotline (1-800-222-1222) immediately as your life may be in danger.
Lorcet: A Legal Yet Dangerous Substance
While Lorcet is an entirely legal substance today, its abuse is still quite rampant among drug users.
And although government regulations are starting to crack down on how this combination of pain relievers is classified in the eyes of the law, there’s still a lot of work to be done in the medical community in terms of prescribing Lorcet conservatively.
What’s more, given the potentially life threatening long-term consequences an addiction to Lorcet can have, it’s especially important that patients know the many risks abusing this substance.