Lortab Addiction and Rehabilitation
Painkillers such as Lortab — a drug more commonly known by the brand name Vicodin — represent the worst drug abuse epidemic ever faced by America. Although Lortab is an effective treatment for people suffering from moderate to severe pain, it is also highly addictive. Addiction to Lortab not only jeopardizes one’s health, it can have devastating consequences on work and home life.
The Dangers of Opioids and Lortab
There are hundreds of narcotic painkillers available only by prescription. Some, such as morphine and codeine, are natural opiates that come from the opium poppy — heroin is a natural opiate sold illicitly on the street. Heroin, discovered by the scientists at Bayer more than 100 years ago, produces similar effects to many common painkillers. When people who become addicted to painkillers have trouble getting more prescription drugs, they sometimes turn to heroin because it is cheaper, faster and stronger.
Lortab — which is sometimes referred to as Vikes, Hydro or Norco — belongs to a class of drug called opioids. Opioids are morphine derivatives that also relieve pain. Sometimes opioid painkillers are blended with other non-prescription painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These over-the-counter drugs boost the effects of the opioid to enhance pain relief. Lortab is a blend of hydrocodone, an opioid painkiller, and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is also known by the brand name Tylenol.
The popularity of drugs such as Lortab has increased significantly over the past ten years. More people visit the emergency room because of hydrocodone/acetaminophen overdose than any other substance besides alcohol — these visits even outnumber people who go to the hospital after a vehicle accident.
Opioids such as Lortab are central nervous system depressants. Central nervous system depressants slow breathing, heart rate and pulse in addition to stopping pain, relieving diarrhea and reducing cough. This is just one of the reasons why overdosing on Lortab can be fatal. Acetaminophen also causes severe damage to the body. Taking too much Lortab causes liver toxicity, and people have died from liver failure.
Perhaps most frightening of all is that people who abuse Lortab, Vicodin and other painkillers recreationally are more likely to overdose and die than those who are suffering from active addiction. Where do people who overdose get their drugs? From family and friends — not on the street from illicit dealers.
How Opioids Work
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, OxyContin, Percocet, fentanyl and others.
Lortab manages the release of dopamine in the brain. Large amounts of dopamine stop pain, and they also cause euphoria. Abusing Lortab depletes the brain’s stores of dopamine — without dopamine, the brain cannot help the body feel good or even normal. Taking too much Lortab changes the chemical structure of the brain and causes changes that can result in physical dependency and addiction. These chemical structure changes affect learning and memory, and they also influence the brain’s understanding of pleasure and reward.
All painkillers produce tolerance and physical dependency when abused, just like heroin does. The most serious dependency cases become addiction. During tolerance, the brain requires more and more of the drug to get the same high. At the same time this occurs, the brain becomes dependent on the drug to release dopamine. This is why people who become addicted to painkillers such as Lortab sometimes must take dozens of pills a day.
A chemically dependent individual cannot even feel normal without the drug. Keep in mind, however, that dependency is not the same thing as addiction. If the individual taking Lortab still feels the original pain symptoms and is taking the drug exactly as prescribed, it is not addiction. It is possible for a person to take Lortab for a prolonged period of time and not develop addiction.
Understanding the key differences between dependency and addiction is essential. Several characterizations define addiction. First, the individual must continue taking drugs, even after serious consequences result. Second, the individual must be unable to control how much and how frequently he takes drugs. Finally, taking drugs to avoid withdrawal, continuing to take drugs even though the original symptoms are gone, and developing a preoccupation with drugs also occur.
Identifying Lortab Abuse
Painkillers such as Lortab cause distinct signs and symptoms. In general, the worse the addiction is, the worse the signs and symptoms will be. These signs and symptoms include:
- Doctor shopping, an illegal practice that involves visiting multiple doctors to get more than one Lortab prescription
- Insisting that quitting at any time is possible (denial)
- Taking more Lortab than what is recommended or continuing to take Lortab even though the original symptoms are gone
- Taking Lortab to avoid withdrawal
- Getting drugs from family or friends
- Taking drugs at unusual times
- Combining Lortab with another substance such as Xanax or alcohol
- Problems with finances, relationships and reputation
- Ignoring old habits and activities to focus on using instead
- Using heroin, often because getting another prescription became impossible or too expensive
People who try to quit Lortab on their own often find it extremely challenging. Withdrawal symptoms that resemble a severe case of the flu and accompanied by an intense desire to use Lortab are common and may last for days or longer. Depression and anxiety may last even longer.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to get help — and the good news is that 12 Keys Rehab is here. Whether you or the person you care about began casually abusing a prescription drug with alcohol or you developed a substance abuse problem that started with a legitimate prescription, 12 Keys Rehab can help.
Our recovery center provides individualized holistic care in an inpatient setting. We begin with a supervised detox, which reduces withdrawal symptoms and helps our clients become accustomed to sobriety in a safe and relaxed environment. Next, each client walks a unique path to sobriety through a personalized plan we design for specific health and lifestyle needs. Clients leave our care secure in the knowledge that 12 Keys Rehab will remain a lifelong partner in sobriety.
You don’t have to spend another anxious day wondering when the Lortab nightmare will end. We can help, so call us now — it’s free and confidential. At 12 Keys Rehab we can help you find your path to freedom, starting today.