When it comes to pain relief, Lortab and other similar medications are often the go-to choice for moderate to severe cases.
However, consistent and long-term use can lead to Lortab abuse and addiction, the results of which are a lot more hazardous than you may think. What’s more, addiction to Lortab can lead to permanent damage to your physical and mental health as well.
Ultimately, this is one legal prescription drug that may end up doing more harm than good.
Lortab is a powerful opiate medication that’s used to treat moderate to severe pain, ideally over the short-term rather than long-term. It is one of many hydrocodone combination products, also known as HCPs.
These medications, as the name implies, are all combinations of the synthetic opioid hydrocodone and other chemicals. In the case of Lortab, the additional substance is acetaminophen, a relatively mild pain reliever found in brands like Tylenol, NyQuil, and Robitussin.
While both hydrocodone and acetaminophen can be damaging to the body after prolonged use and abuse, the most dangerous of the two is without a doubt hydrocodone. It can create a variety of harmful effects and in many cases, may end up leading to a fatal overdose.
Given the addictive potential of this drug as well as the harm that it can and does cause, the DEA recently moved all HCPs from a Schedule III substance to a Schedule II substance alongside drugs like opium, methamphetamine, pentobarbital, and methadone.
The combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen found in Lortab is also used in a number of other drugs as well. A few of the most notable ones according to Drugs.com include:
In general, the only real difference between these products and Lortab is the differing amount of hydrocodone and acetaminophen in each.
Lortab, for example, comes in a variety of dosages including 10mg of hydrocodone and 325mg of acetaminophen (typically referred to as 10/325), Lortab 5/325, and Lortab 7.5/325.
Lorcet, one of the most common similar medications also comes in the same dosages, along with Vicodin as well.
It’s important to note that each of these medications are only different in brand name alone. The active ingredients in each are both hydrocodone and acetaminophen. So, while you may have heard of Vicodin being a common substance of abuse in the media, the truth is that Lortab and other similar HCPs can actually be just as dangerous.
Given the similarities between Lortab and other hydrocodone combination products on the market today, many people who abuse this substance tend to use them interchangeably, limited only by what’s available at the time.
As such, street names of Lortab fall under the general umbrella terms used to refer to all hydrocodone products. According to the DEA, some of the common street names for this particular opioid are:
It may seem strange to combine such a heavy-duty substance like hydrocodone with the lesser pain reliever acetaminophen at first. After all, can you even feel the effects of acetaminophen with a powerful opioid in your system?
In fact, the acetaminophen is actually used to intensify the effects of the hydrocodone, rather than work alongside them. As a result, the hydrocodone is much more potent than if it were taken on its own.
Opioids like hydrocodone are unique in that they directly affect the brain’s opioid receptors, specifically the mu-opioid receptor. These areas in the brain help regulate pain relief as well as overall mood.
They may also have a hand in the brain’s production and distribution of serotonin as well as dopamine, two of the most fundamental neurotransmitters found in the body.
Continued and significant abuse of hydrocodone can lead to the body acclimating to its presence. As a result, it’s effectiveness is dulled and the same amount of the drug doesn’t stimulate the opioid receptors as much as it used to.
This process of the body adapting is called building tolerance and it’s one of the hallmarks of an addiction.
While it may be easy to pick out the signs of being addicted to Lortab in others, recognizing them in yourself can be especially tough to do alone. Denial, after all, is an incredibly powerful force when it comes to substance abuse.
The first step though is learning to look at your actions objectively rather than through your own eyes. And one of the best ways to do that is by taking a self-assessment.
There are a number of different options available here. The easiest by far is take a short, online addiction quiz that only takes a few minutes to complete. It’s fast, effective, and will help point you in the right direction of whether or not you need to seek help.
You can also take a look at the guidelines used by physicians and mental health professionals to evaluate a substance use disorder. The criteria provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) come from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, one of the most trusted sources in mental health diagnoses.
Lortab is just one of many opiate pain relievers on the market today and its abuse is part of the much larger epidemic our country is currently in.
In fact, so many people abuse opioids in the modern world that agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) refer to the growing addiction as an actual epidemic.
And when you take a look at the numbers, it shouldn’t be too surprising why:
Drug overdoses are rising at an unprecedented rate and it’s clear that opioids are part of the problem.
As this issue grows in scope, more agencies and passionate citizens are forging new ways to deal with the epidemic. The CDC, for example, has published a number of guidelines to help in prescribing opioids responsibly rather than haphazardly.
Concerned citizens are voicing their opinions to their local politicians and are even setting up grass roots organizations to spread the word on the dangers of becoming addicted to these substances.
Ultimately, we are making progress to address this devastating problem but there’s still a long way to go.
In addition to the desired side effects of abusing Lortab (such as euphoria, pain relief, sedation, etc.), there are a number of other associated short-term effects that can come about from Lortab abuse.
According to MedlinePlus, some of the most notable are:
There are a few other side effects to watch out for as well as they might indicate a serious problem. As such, seek immediate medical help if you experience any of the following symptoms:
As a powerful sedative, opioids like Lortab can have the added effect of what’s called “nodding.” This side effect is basically just what it sounds like – an intoxicated user will drift in and out of consciousness for hours at a time, making it difficult to function normally in nearly any setting.
Nodding can be dangerous for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it is usually an indication that the amount of heroin or Lortab you’re abusing is approaching hazardous levels, to the point of being close to overdose. The respiratory depression that results can end up being fatal.
Beyond that, nodding is also dangerous because it essentially makes you more vulnerable to high-risk situations. Operating vehicles or machinery, walking through unfamiliar areas, or even being in public in general can be especially hazardous to your health.
Lortab abuse can have some pretty nasty long-term side effects as well. For instance, high levels of acetaminophen have been shown to increase the risk of hepatotoxicity or liver damage.
What’s more, Lortab and other opioids are currently being researched for their role in reducing the amount of white matter found in the brain according to NIDA. These changes (caused by depressed respiration and a lack of oxygen to the brain) may be responsible for impairments to cognitive function and alterations of the personality.
Ultimately, the long-term dangers and potential brain damage of opioids like Lortab simply aren’t worth the risk.
Like other similar opioids, the withdrawals for Lortab addiction can be quite uncomfortable. And while they aren’t fatal, they do carry the risk of bringing about relapse based on their severity alone.
It’s worth mentioning that detoxing from Lortab can be especially dangerous and even fatal due to the fact that relapsing is often the cause of many opioid overdoses. Opioids are unique in that they are quick to build up tolerance in the body, but that tolerance also fades much more rapidly than other substances.
As a result, many people may go through a week of Lortab detoxification, relapse, and return to abusing the same amount as before, only to find that their body cannot handle the same levels of hydrocodone.
The outcome in these types of situations could be permanent bodily damage or death.
Despite it being a legal substance, abusing Lortab comes with a host of both short-term and long-term effects, some of which can fundamentally alter the course of your entire life. What’s more, the development of an addiction to this hydrocodone combination product can carry with it some very deadly consequences.
It’s absolutely crucial then that you seek help to kick this deadly addiction for good. It just may end up being the best decision you’ve made yet.