Lortab Abuse

There are countless opioid-based prescription painkillers that are regularly manufactured, distributed, and prescribed to the general public on a daily basis. These painkillers are prescribed to do just that – “kill” pain. Popular medications like OxyContin and Percocet are used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain, often related to surgical procedures, physical injuries, or chronic pain management. While extremely beneficial for those patients who use them exactly as directed, prescription painkillers are highly habit-forming and can cause tolerance, dependence, and subsequent addiction in those who use them in any other manner.

One of the most frequently prescribed painkillers in the country is Lortab, which is a combination of hydrocodone and paracetamol. Hydrocodone is the opioid component of the painkiller and paracetamol is another word for acetaminophen, which is an over-the-counter pain reliever. Lortab is usually prescribed to treat more severe pain cases as opposed to those who are experiencing moderate pain, as it is a potent medication capable of addressing this level of physical pain. As mentioned above, Lortab can be helpful for those who consume it as prescribed, but when it is used for other purposes, such as for self-medication or recreational use, users can easily become find themselves suffering from a Lortab addiction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 58 prescriptions were written for every 100 Americans in 2017. More than 17% of Americans were prescribed an opioid and approximately 3.4 opioid prescriptions were written per patient. One of those opioid prescriptions included Lortab, which continues to remain one of the most widely abused opioid-based painkillers in the country.

Today, studies show that hydrocodone, which is the primary ingredient in Lortab, is equally as potent as morphine and is more effective as a cough suppressant than codeine. Hydrocodone is the most prescribed drug in the United States and has been since the 2000s.


Civilizations from around the world have relied on the painkilling effects of raw opium for hundreds of years. Morphine was first discovered in 1804 and is still the gold standard of all pain medications. It also forms the basis of every other narcotic painkiller in the world, including Lortab.

There are opioid receptors in the brain that work to produce and release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which triggers feelings of euphoria and reward. Without the use of opioids, the opioid receptors in the brain naturally produce dopamine when someone exercises, sleeps, eats specific foods, listens to music, or gets a massage, to name a few. This is why these things tend to make people feel happy because dopamine is released into the body when someone engages in these activities. When someone abuses Lortab, the chemicals in the pill immediately bind to the opioid receptors, initiating the release of dopamine. Unlike when someone exercises or gets a massage, however, this release of dopamine is much more intense. As a result, the user achieves an extremely euphoric high and continues to use to obtain that high again and again. The repetitive nature of wanting to continue to get high comes from the brain’s reward center craving Lortab, as it knows that when Lortab is abused, pleasurable feelings are produced.

Continuing to abuse a drug as habit-forming as Lortab is extremely dangerous for a number of reasons, including the potential for tolerance to develop. When someone is abusing Lortab and finds that he or she needs to regularly increase the amount that he or she is taking, that is the tell-tale sign of tolerance. Over time, the body becomes accustomed to a certain amount of Lortab being present in the body. Eventually, however, the body will not produce the same euphoric effects as it used to with the same dose, which is why users need to increase how much they take in order for those effects to be felt. Once someone becomes tolerant of a drug as powerful as Lortab, his or her use becomes a very slippery slope, as the continual increase of Lortab consumption can quickly lead to dependence.

When a Lortab user becomes dependent on this opioid, it means that he or she cannot decrease the amount he or she is using or stop using cold turkey without experiencing painful physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. The continued increase in Lortab consumption has not only aided in a user’s desire to feel high, but it has also aided in making the body completely reliant on this substance. Once someone becomes dependent on Lortab, any and all attempts to get sober independently are often thwarted when withdrawal symptoms set in.

It is important to note that when someone is dependent on Lortab, it does not mean that he or she is addicted to it. Being dependent on an opioid like Lortab means that a person is physically reliant on it and cannot stop using it without going into a state of withdrawal. Being addicted to Lortab refers to the psychological component of continually abusing this or another habit-forming substance. Someone who is addicted to Lortab is abusing it because of a mental need to do so, which is often triggered by one’s brain chemistry and genetic makeup, amongst other factors.


Anytime that someone is addicted to a drug, including Lortab, he or she is going to be symptomatic of that addiction. This means that he or she will be showing signs of the addiction as he or she continues to use. One of the most difficult to understand aspects about addiction is that everyone who is affected by it, such as the user and his or her loved ones, can find themselves in such a profound state of denial that even if they know better on a subconscious level, they cannot admit that an addiction is occurring before their eyes. The power of this denial is so strong that even people who have recovered from their own addiction, who work in the field of addiction treatment, or who are educated on the disease of addiction can easily be blinded by a loved one’s actions surrounding Lortab use. While this is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of, it makes it even more important for everyone, no matter how informed, to always be aware of what the symptoms of a Lortab addiction can look like.

Each individual Lortab user is unique in his or her own disease, meaning that each user is going to have a different combination of symptoms than the next. While one Lortab user might display only a handful of symptoms of addiction, another Lortab user might experience countless symptoms. In general, there are several symptoms of Lortab addiction that can be seen in anyone who is abusing this or any other opioid. These symptoms include the following:

  • Taking more Lortab than what is recommended or taking Lortab without a medical need to do so
  • Constantly saying that he or she can quit anytime he or she wants to, but never makes an effort to do so
  • Abusing Lortab in an effort to self-medicate a physical and/or mental health problem
  • Continuing to use Lortab despite experiencing consequences as a result of that use
  • Putting oneself and/or others in danger while under the influence
  • Frequently increasing Lortab consumption
  • Socially withdrawing from friends, family, and loved ones
  • No longer participating in previously enjoyed activities or hobbies
  • Neglecting important responsibilities at home, work, and/or school
  • Turning to the use of heroin or other prescription painkillers when unable to obtain Lortab
  • Going from doctor to doctor in an effort to be prescribed more Lortab (known as doctor shopping)
  • Taking Lortab from others’ medicine cabinets or trading other drugs for it

Other symptoms commonly associated with the disease of addiction include secretive behavior, dishonesty, changes in personal hygiene practices, unpredictable mood swings, and combining Lortab abuse with the abuse of other addictive substances.

More specific to Lortab, those who are addicted to it can display symptoms that are usually only paired with opioid abuse and addiction, including the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Shallow breathing

When it comes to recognizing physical symptoms such as these, it is always important to also be educated on the general symptoms of addiction (listed above) in order to help decipher if someone is simply not feeling well or is struggling with a Lortab addiction.


In the 1990s, major pharmaceutical companies who manufactured prescription painkillers like Lortab assured prescribing professionals that they were not habit-forming. This led to these professionals freely prescribing opioid-based painkillers. Not until it was too late did anyone realize just how habit-forming these medications truly were.

Today, it is well known that prescription painkillers, despite the false information originally spread by Big Pharma, are not really safe at all, even when taken carefully and as directed. There always remains a possibility for abuse due to how potent and powerful these medications are. Lortab is one of these medications, and when people abuse it to the point of addiction, several negative side effects can develop. Some side effects associated with this opioid can be deadly, costing a user his or her life.

Physical side effects of Lortab addiction

The human body is not made to handle large amounts of opioids, which is why when someone abuses Lortab to excess, several physical side effects can develop. While some side effects are easier to manage, many of them can become extremely problematic if left untreated.

The physical side effects that a person can experience when abusing Lortab can include the following:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Sensitivity to pain
  • Dizziness
  • Respiratory problems (e.g. shallow breathing)
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite (either eating too much or not enough)
  • Dry mouth
  • Lightheadedness
  • Poor coordination
  • Constricted pupils
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness

When someone experiences respiratory problems while abusing Lortab, he or she is at extreme risk for suffering from an overdose. Respiratory failure is the leading cause of opioid overdoses, as consuming too large of a dose of opioids can make it impossible for a person to breathe properly. Having limited breathing abilities quickly impacts the function of the cardiovascular system, as oxygen is needed in order to send blood to different organs in the body. Without oxygen, organs in the body such as the liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs cannot function, which can lead to death if not treated as quickly as possible. This particular physical side effect should never, ever be ignored or downplayed. If someone is having any sort of respiratory problem after abusing Lortab, seek immediate medical attention by calling 911.

Psychological side effects of Lortab addiction

It’s easy to think that the abuse of a drug like Lortab will cause more physical side effects than psychological ones. While the number of physical side effects that can develop may be larger in number, the severity of the potential psychological side effects can be just as powerful even if there are not nearly as many.

The more severe the Lortab abuse, the more likely the following psychological symptoms are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Mental fog
  • Memory problems
  • Poor cognition
  • Suicidal thoughts

Nearly 50% of those who experience the disease of addiction also experience a mental health condition at the same time. This is known as a co-occurring condition. For many people, the mental illness that occurs alongside the addiction was present prior to the development of the addiction. Therefore, an additional side effect of Lortab abuse in this instance is aggravating an existing mental illness, such as depression or anxiety. The symptoms associated with the mental illness can get much worse and only increase one’s likelihood of continuing to abuse Lortab or another mind-altering substance in an effort to self-medicate.


The greatest danger associated with the abuse of an addiction to Lortab is the risk of overdose. Today, the United States is experiencing an overdose crisis, which is directly related to the opioid epidemic that we have been trapped in for the past 8+ years. Every single day, 130 Americans die from overdoses caused by opioids alone. With at least 47,000 people projected to lose their lives to opioid abuse this year alone, it is safe to say that the potential for death by Lortab overdose is the most pressing concern facing those addicted to this specific painkiller.

As mentioned before, a fatal overdose occurs when the body is unable to process the amount of Lortab that a person has consumed. Breathing becomes extremely difficult, causing a lack of oxygen in the body, which would otherwise continue to fuel the function of all vital organs. Someone who is in respiratory distress or failure because of an opioid overdose is said to display the same respiratory sounds as those who are terminally ill. Known as the “death rattle”, a person suffering a fatal overdose will experience breathing that produces gurgling, wet, crackling, and/or snoring sounds. This sound is indicative of death and if heard by someone able to take action, calling 911 is absolutely imperative for survival.

Aside from a fatal overdose, those who abuse Lortab can suffer from a number of other dangers. For example, it is extremely common for people with a substance use disorder to either have a pre-existing mental illness or develop one as a result of their drug abuse. Regardless of which came first, the Lortab addiction or the mental illness, having both conditions happening simultaneously without any professional treatment being obtained can prove to be fatal. For example, one of the most common symptoms associated with several mental illnesses is suicidal ideation. When someone is having ideations, he or she is actively thinking about and/or planning his or her own suicide. With all the symptoms that one can experience when abusing Lortab, it can be difficult for an onlooker to recognize that these ideations are occurring, especially if the user makes active attempts to hide them. Without the proper help, it is a real possibility that the user will follow through with his or her plans for suicide.

Continuing to abuse Lortab can lead to serious physical health problems that can remain long after a person gets sober. Those who abuse Lortab intravenously are at exceptionally high risk for contracting bloodborne diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. When under the influence of Lortab and looking to use more, it can be easy for a user to pick up and use a dirty needle or lower his or her hygiene standards by sharing needles with others just to get high. The decisions that are made while under the influence can alter the course of one’s life forever, leaving him or her with one of these deadly diseases. In the same breath, even if someone does not inject Lortab but abuses it in any other manner, serious vital organ damage can occur. Issues with the liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs can develop and shorten the lifespan of the user even if he or she stops abusing Lortab.

Addiction is an unforgiving disease and it holds no prisoners. You do not need to be a long-time user to suffer any one of these dangers to your health and wellbeing. All it takes is one time to completely and entirely impact your life in a negative way. The only way to stop and prevent any further physical or psychological damage is to reach out for professional help right away. Even using just one more time can be the difference between life and death.


Those who are addicted to Lortab and who make attempts to stop using on their own often find their efforts to be fruitless. When withdrawal symptoms hit and the user is not equipped with coping skills or the medical support that he or she needs to power through the challenges presented to them by the detox process, going back to using again can be the easiest option. At 12 Keys in Florida, we know just how hard it can be to get the courage to stop using. We also know how devastating and demoralizing it is when you do not succeed in getting sober on your own. Instead of picking up to use again, continue to take the action that you were attempting to take before by calling us right away. We can not only get you admitted into our rehab in Florida as quickly as possible, but we can also help to develop an effective plan for treatment that will get you through detox and into the therapy that will help you rebuild your life.

Our rehab provides individualized holistic care that can address the needs of even the longest-term Lortab users. When deemed clinically necessary, we start clients in our medically-assisted detox. There, you will be supervised on a 24/7 basis, allowing for the continuous support you need to get sober. We can help alleviate overwhelming withdrawal symptoms and constant cravings through the use of FDA-approved prescription medications, helping you to be comfortable during this time. When you have completed detox and are ready to move on, we will work with you to develop a customized care plan that is comprehensive and meets all of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

While you are receiving treatment for your Lortab addiction at 12 Keys’ Florida facility, we will not only provide you with several evidence-based therapies that can help you uncover the hidden issues behind your addiction, but we will also show you how to have fun and find happiness without abusing Lortab or any other addictive substance. We will work directly with you and your family to help begin to heal the rifts in your relationships that developed during your active addiction. We strive to ensure that you have developed a solid, unbreakable foundation before you leave our program so that when you get back to your day-to-day life, you are confident in knowing how to avoid triggers, manage your recovery, and continue to live one day at a time.


If you are addicted to Lortab or any other opioid, stop everything you are doing and call us right now. Your addiction is serious enough for you to put everything else on hold in your life so that you can address your treatment needs now — before it is too late.

Do not wait for one more second. We are here 24/7. Call us now.

The Addiction Blog