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  • Norco Addiction | Abuse Potential, Side Effects, Withdrawal Symptoms, & Overdose

    orange pill bottle spilled out on a table white round pills

    Norco is a prescription opioid that combines hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is prescribed as a pain reliever. Like many other prescription medications, it is a target for drug abuse and addiction.

    How Does Norco Work?

    Norco’s two main ingredients, acetaminophen and hydrocodone, work in different ways to reduce pain in the body.

    Acetaminophen can treat mild to moderate pain. Experts believe it raises the pain threshold (minimum point where you can feel pain) by interacting with nitric oxide pathways in the brain. Acetaminophen is considered a non-addictive substance.

    Hydrocodone is stronger than acetaminophen, and can treat more severe pain. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body, causing pain relief and relaxation. Unlike acetaminophen, hydrocodone is an addictive substance.

    Side Effects Of Norco

    Opioid use can cause many side effects. Norco has a lower hydrocodone concentration than some other opioids, including brand names Vicodin, TussiCaps, Hysingla. But, Norco is still potent.

    Side effects of Norco include:

    • constipation
    • drowsiness
    • changes to mental health (mood swings, anxiety)

    When Norco is taken properly in the short-term, a patient is at lower risk for other serious health effects. However, Norco’s addictive properties can lead to other effects in the long-term.

    Norco Abuse Potential

    Hydrocodone, and by extension Norco, is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It has a high potential for substance abuse and addiction.

    Norco abuse includes any non-medical use of Norco, such as:

    • using Norco without a prescription
    • intentionally ignoring recommended doses
    • mixing Norco with other substances (alcohol, other prescription painkillers, illicit drugs) 

    Norco abuse puts one at higher risk for addiction and overdose.

    Norco Addiction

    Norco is one of many targets for opioid addiction. Addiction is more likely to occur when Norco is taken beyond the short-term, or when the drug is abused. Norco addiction is primarily caused by hydrocodone, not acetaminophen.

    Hydrocodone is a highly addictive substance. A person may become addicted to the pain relief caused by Norco and other opioids after long-term use. If you find yourself constantly thinking about Norco, or taking Norco to avoid negative effects other than pain, you may be addicted.

    Norco Withdrawal Symptoms

    A person taking Norco is at risk for physical dependence on hydrocodone. The risk of acetaminophen dependence is negligible because acetaminophen is not habit-forming.

    After reaching physical dependency, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to come off hydrocodone. Physical dependence on Norco can start anywhere between a few days to several weeks, depending on the dosage and frequency of use.

    Withdrawal symptoms of hydrocodone and Norco may include:

    • runny nose
    • restlessness
    • insomnia
    • vomiting and diarrhea

    Learn More About Norco Withdrawal

    Norco Overdose

    Norco overdose can be caused by either of its active ingredients. Both acetaminophen and hydrocodone can be toxic to the body if taken in extremely high doses.

    Hydrocodone Overdose

    Like other forms of opioid overdose, hydrocodone overdose can be serious and even fatal. 

    Effects of hydrocodone overdose may include:

    • respiratory depression (extremely slow breathing)
    • clammy skin
    • slowed heart rate
    • cardiac arrest

    Acetaminophen Overdose

    Acetaminophen has a higher chance of overdose if taken with other analgesics like hydrocodone. Abusing Norco puts you at a higher risk for acetaminophen overdose.

    Though acetaminophen is a weaker substance than hydrocodone, acetaminophen overdose can still be life-threatening. 

    Effects of acetaminophen overdose may include:

    • liver damage and failure
    • coagulation defects (blood flow problems)
    • nausea
    • vomiting

    Hydrocodone and acetaminophen overdose both require immediate medical attention. Get help right away if you or a loved one exhibit these signs.

    Norco Addiction Treatment Options

    Norco cannot be dropped “cold-turkey” without inviting serious health effects. Even though acetaminophen does not cause withdrawal symptoms, hydrocodone does. Norco is best quit through gradual treatment programs to avoid or reduce health risks caused by hydrocodone.

    Many addiction and abuse treatment options exist to fight the opioid epidemic in the United States. Undergoing a treatment program will also reduce the risk of both hydrocodone and acetaminophen overdose.

    Medication-Assisted Treatment

    Other drugs can fight hydrocodone dependence, or reduce hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms. The following drugs are approved for these purposes:

    • methadone
    • buprenorphine
    • naltrexone
    • naloxone (immediate treatment for hydrocodone overdose)

    Behavioral Therapy

    According to the CDC, behavioral therapy that targets heroin addiction is also effective against prescription opioid addiction. 

    Behavioral therapy can outline steps to getting clean and set up incentives for quitting. It is an effective treatment for Norco addiction, especially when combined with other methods.

    Contact us today to learn more about our inpatient and outpatient rehab programs, which can help you or your loved one overcome Norco abuse and addiction.

    Norco FAQ

    Is Norco An Opioid Or Opiate?

    Norco contains hydrocodone, which is a semi-synthetic opioid. Semi-synthetic opioids are chemically modified versions of opiates, which are naturally occurring opioids derived from the opium poppy plant. 

    Thus, Norco can be classified as both an opioid and an opiate.

    Learn more about Norco Drug Classification

    How Long Does Norco Stay in Your System?

    Norco leaves your body about 20 hours after ingestion, but there are still trace amounts that can be detected on a drug test. 

    These trace amounts are due to metabolites created when the drug is metabolized by the liver. Metabolites can be detected in a urine sample for up to four days after your last dose. Metabolites stay in your hair follicles the longest and are detectable for up to 90 days.

    Learn more about Norco Detection Times

    Can You Snort Norco?

    Although some may snort Norco by crushing tablets into a fine powder, this is not a form of prescribed use and can lead to many adverse health effects, including addiction and overdose.

    Learn more about Snorting Norco

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Commonly Used Drugs Charts | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
    Food and Drug Administration - Norco - FDA
    National Center for Biotechnology Information - Acetaminophen | C8H9NO2 - Pubchem
    U.S. National Library of Medicine - Hydrocodone Combination Products: MedlinePlus Drug Information
    U.S. National Library of Medicine - Hydrocodone: MedlinePlus Drug Information

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on March 18, 2022
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