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  • Norco Drug Classification | Is Norco An Opioid Or Opiate?

    white oval pills Norco Hydrocodone Opioid Opiate medications

    Many health care providers prescribe Norco to treat moderate to severe pain. 

    The medication provides pain relief by altering how the brain and central nervous system (CNS) react to pain. Common side effects include drowsiness, sedation, lightheadedness, and constipation.

    Norco can be classified as both an opioid and an opiate. To understand how that’s possible, you need to learn about the drug’s ingredients as well as the different types of opioids.

    What Does Norco Consist Of?

    Norco is a combination pain medication that consists of two substances: acetaminophen and hydrocodone (also known as hydrocodone bitartrate).

    Acetaminophen is a non-opioid analgesic (painkiller) and antipyretic (fever reducer). When it’s not combined with hydrocodone or other drugs, it’s sold over-the-counter under the brand name Tylenol. 

    Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic. As with other opioids, it’s only available by prescription. That’s because it poses a high risk of abuse and addiction. 

    What Are Opioids?

    Opioids are powerful pain medications that decrease pain by attaching to opioid receptors on nerve cells throughout the body. They’re categorized into three types: opiates, synthetic opioids, and semi-synthetic opioids. 


    Opiates are naturally occurring organic compounds derived from the opium poppy plant. They include codeine, morphine, and thebaine.

    Synthetic Opioids

    As their name suggests, synthetic opioids are completely man made and are not derived from any natural substances. 

    Examples include fentanyl (often sold under the brand names Actiq, Sublimaze, and Duragesic), tramadol (Ryzolt, ConZip, and Ultram), and methadone (Methadose, Dolophine, and Methadone Intensol).

    Semi-Synthetic Opioids

    Semi-synthetic opioids are chemically modified versions of opiates. Along with hydrocodone, other semi-synthetic opioids include heroin, hydromorphone (Exalgo ER and Dilaudid), oxycodone (Oxycontin and Percocet), and buprenorphine (Subutex).

    Is Norco An Opioid Or Opiate?

    Because Norco contains hydrocodone, which is a chemically modified version of an opiate, Norco can be classified as both an opioid and an opiate. 

    Norco Abuse & Addiction

    All opioids are highly addictive. Since Norco contains an opioid, it has a high risk of addiction.

    You’re more likely to become addicted to Norco if your doctor prescribes it for a long period of time or if you abuse it by mixing it with alcohol or other drugs like benzodiazepines. People abuse Norco to feel euphoric or “high.” 

    Signs Of Norco Addiction

    The most common signs of Norco addiction are tolerance and physical dependence. 

    Tolerance means you need increasingly higher doses of the drug over time to achieve the desired effects. 

    Physical dependence means your body relies on the drug to function normally. If you stop taking it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, loss of appetite, and breathing problems. 

    Treatment Options For Norco Addiction

    It’s not easy or safe to try recovering from a prescription opioid addiction on your own. Instead, seek professional medical advice at a drug abuse treatment program.

    Available on an inpatient or outpatient basis, these rehab programs offer services such as:

    • medical detox, in which a team of doctors will help you gradually wean off Norco in a safe, supervised environment 
    • medication-assisted treatment (MAT), in which doctors aim to speed up your recovery by prescribing medications that ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings 
    • behavioral therapy, in which you’ll learn how to change unhealthy behaviors and decrease the chance of relapse
    • peer support groups, in which you can share your experiences with others who are recovering from addictions to opioid medications

    If you or a loved one is struggling with Norco or another pain management medication, please contact us to learn more about our treatment options.

    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(CDC) - Opioid Basics: Commonly Used Terms
    U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) - Norco
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Acetaminophen
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Hydrocodone
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Opiate and opioid withdrawal

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on March 22, 2022
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