In the United States and around the world, opioid abuse has continued to rise, resulting in massive amounts of addiction, incarceration, and overdose. For a majority of people, thinking about the major drugs that caused the problem largely brings up prescription names such as Oxycontin, Fentanyl, and Percocet. However, studies show that a larger majority of people who abuse opioid medications actually struggle with the lesser known variations of these medications, such as Lortab.
Lortab addiction can be just as dangerous and life-altering as any other opioid medication, but what exactly is Lortab, and how is someone supposed to know if they or their loved one is struggling with a Lortab addiction?
- In 2014, Lortab was raised from a Schedule III to a Schedule II drug after signs of addiction and abuse prevalence rose.
- The estimated average ages of Lortab abuse are between 18-30 years old.
- Studies have reported that nearly 60% of opioid medication abusers, including Lortab, received or obtained the drug from family members and friends.
- 20% of people with a reported Lortab addiction are prescribed the drug.
What is Lortab?
More commonly known by the brand names Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab, this medication is actually a powerful synthetic opioid known by Hydrocodone. Just like with any other opioid medication, these drugs were created and prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain.
They are intended to be prescribed by a medical provider, but again, just like with any other opioid medication, there has been illegal distribution, selling and even stealing of these medications that have lead to increasing rates of addiction.
The drug Hydrocodone is combined with Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen in the generic forms of the drug, Lortab, and Vicodin, and comes in a pill form. Many abusers of this drug will either eat the pill or crush it and snort or inject it.
Even people who have a written prescription from a medical provider are at risk of developing abusive or addictive behaviors with their Lortab medication, as the drug can create a tolerance in users, which means they will need to continue to use more and more to achieve the desired effect.
Why is Lortab so Addictive?
Opioid medications as a whole are well known to have an extremely high threat of dependence or addiction. This is because these drugs act on the pain receptors in the brain. The chemicals weaken the signals for pain through the central nervous system, that result in feelings of euphoria, extreme relaxation, happiness, and relaxation.
Over time, prolonged use of the drug can affect the brain’s’ “reward centers” so that a tolerance develops which can actually rewire the chemistry of the brain, placing the person into seeing their drug as a necessary tool of survival, even more important than eating, sleeping, or security. This creates the cravings, the desperation, and the abandonment in everything else in the search for the next use.
Many people abuse Lortab and other drugs simultaneously. A common combination to combine with an opioid addiction is often a form of a stimulant drug, which helps to level out the drowsiness, or an anti-anxiety medication, to further increase the effects of the high.
Mixing these drugs can result in an even faster addiction process and can make getting off drugs even more difficult. Combining drugs can also result in a higher likelihood of overdosing. This is because one drug can mask the effects of another, meaning the person will continue to ingest more, without being able to detect how intoxicated they already are, resulting in slowed heart rate, possible organ failure, and respiratory failure. This is especially true when people combine Lortab and alcohol.
Signs of Lortab Addiction
Addiction can be a painful and complicated topic to speak about with a loved one. Many people who struggle with Lortab addiction, or any other addiction at that, will often feel immense shame and guilt around their drug use, and may not ask for help. If you are concerned for a loved one who you suspect may be struggling with a Lortab addiction, here are some common signs to keep an eye out for.
- A physical and mental dependence on the drug
- Flu-like symptoms when not taking the drug
- Extreme mood swings before and after using (anxious and irritable vs. calm and relaxed)
- Nausea or Headaches first thing in the morning
- Falling asleep in strange situations, places, or time of day
- Rapid spending of money
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Withdrawing from responsibilities (school, work, friendships, hobbies)
It can be confusing for loved ones of people who are struggling with a Lortab addiction, as the initial symptoms can often be covered up for some time, especially for people who do not live at home.
The Switch to Harder Drugs
Anyone who has been a witness to a loved one struggling with an addiction can attest how painful it is to watch someone slip into further addiction. Many people begin using drugs experimentally and recreationally, and it first, it often doesn’t do much harm, however, over time, and with developed tolerance levels, a seemingly innocent drug can often open the door to harder, more dangerous substances.
Many people who are now addicted to heroin never thought they would get that far. A majority of heroin users report experimenting first with opioid medications, such as the occasional Vicodin or Percocet. Over time, abuse continues, the person develops a craving and an obsession for the drug, leading to a need to find something stronger and oftentimes cheaper.
This has been what has helped fuel the opioid epidemic in the United States.
How to Approach Your Loved One
If you are concerned that your loved one might be struggling with a Lortab addiction, there really is no easy way to have a conversation about it. The difficult thing about addiction is that many people won’t be ready to seek help until they have experienced enough pain and consequences as a result of their using to be willing to stop.
The drugs completely take over the thoughts of someone struggling with addiction, and no amount of pleading, begging, or bargaining can help them until they are ready. However, if you decide to speak to your loved one about your concerns, a safe course of action is to try and remain calm, compassionate, and be willing to listen. It can be difficult not to jump to anger if they don’t seem to want to stop, however, this can often push your loved one farther away.
If you continue to see a decline in their health, help is available. Call us today to learn more about our Lortab rehab program.