Is Norco an Opiate? – For all intents and purposes, yes, Norco is an opiate. Norco contains hydrocodone, which is a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from codeine. Codeine is an opiate, a term used to describe naturally occurring chemical compounds culled from opium. The term “semi-synthetic opioid” is used to describe drugs that are derived from opiates but are also partially synthesized (human-made).
What Is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is a prescription painkiller, commonly prescribed to treat moderate-severe pain. Doctors may prescribe hydrocodone to treat acute pain following surgery or for an injury. When used for a short period as directed, hydrocodone can be very effective at relieving pain and temporarily improving the quality of a person’s life.
However, opiates and opioids have a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. In just a few days of prescribed use, hydrocodone can start to become problematic.
Norco most commonly presents as the following:
- Yellow capsule-shaped tablets with “NORCO 539” embossed on one side and bisected on the other. It contains 10 mg of hydrocodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen.
- Light orange capsule-shaped tablets with “NORCO 729” on one side and bisected on the other. It contains 7.5 mg of hydrocodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen.
Before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reduced acceptable levels of acetaminophen in medication, Norco had the least amount of acetaminophen. For this reason, some addicts chose Norco over other prescription opioids to avoid the increased risk of overdosing on acetaminophen. Currently, however, it has the same or higher percentage of acetaminophen of the hydrocodone medications.
Is Norco an Opiate?: Norco Abuse
Abuse of Norco is most often characterized by using the drug too often or in doses higher than prescribed by a physician. The use of hydrocodone without a prescription is also considered abuse. Hydrocodone is usually taken orally, but some who abuse the drug crush the pills and snort or inject the residual powder.
However, most people with a hydrocodone addiction begin by misusing a prescription they received from a doctor. For this reason, it can be challenging to see the outward signs of addiction.
Side effects of Hydrocodone abuse include the following:
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth
- Warm, flushed skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slow breathing and pulse
- Slurred speech
Long-term abuse of Norco inherently changes the way the brain functions and can, therefore, have lasting effects on mood and thought patterns. People who chronically abuse hydrocodone are prone to experiencing insomnia, liver or kidney disease, anxiety, and depression.
Most emotional disorders can be treated using therapy and medication, such as antidepressants. However, damage incurred by the liver and kidneys may be challenging to treat and be permanent.
Signs of hydrocodone abuse also include using more than intended and prioritizing drug use over important responsibilities. Persons who abuse opioids often grow increasingly secretive and isolated as their condition progresses.
Is Norco an Opiate?: Norco Addiction
Norco, like other opioids, works on the brain by attaching to opioid receptors. Once it is bound to these receptors, pain signals are minimized or blocked. Opioid receptors are also responsible for positive reinforcement related to drug-using. Feelings of euphoria are also produced here and can cause people to want to use the drug repeatedly.
Over time, regular use or abuse of hydrocodone can result in a condition known as dependence. When dependence develops, the brain is no longer able to function normally without the drug’s presence. When a person tries to quit or reduce the amount of Norco they are using, they will encounter unpleasant withdrawal symptoms as a result.
Norco withdrawal symptoms may include the following:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Depression and mood swings
- Drug cravings
As a person’s tolerance to the effects of hydrocodone grows, he or she will need to use higher doses to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. Tolerance occurs as a result of the body’s propensity to diminish the effects of certain substances following repeated use.
Abuse, tolerance, and dependence do not necessarily equal addiction, but they are vital components. Addiction is further hallmarked by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and the inability to control drug use despite the adverse consequences that result.
Is Norco an Opiate?: Overdose
Using too much hydrocodone can lead to an overdose. When the body is unable to process all of the opioids in the system, breathing and heart rates can be dramatically impaired. In just minutes, a person overdosing on hydrocodone can stop breathing, and the brain will be deprived of oxygen. This effect can result in death at worst, and permanent brain damage at best if left untreated for too long.
The recommended dosage of Norco is no higher than 60 mg in 24 hours. The scientifically and accepted amount to produce a lethal overdose of hydrocodone is 90 mg. Therefore, as little as nine hydrocodone tablets at 10mg taken in too brief of a period can result in death.
Using this amount already places a person far above the liver’s tolerance of acetaminophen at 5,400 mg. Moreover, a person would experience two separate overdoses if they decided to consume this many pills. Crushing, snorting, or injecting Norco also increases the risk of overdose.
Of course, a person’s tolerance and individual factors play a role in how much hydrocodone it would take to induce overdose symptoms, fatal or otherwise. A person who also uses other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, is at a much higher risk for overdose. A smaller amount of hydrocodone used in combination with other drugs could rapidly result in life-threatening CNS depression.
An overdose of Norco can be reversed using an antagonist drug known as naloxone (Narcan). It blocks the key opioid receptors found within the CNS that lead to an overdose.
Hydrocodone Overdose Symptoms
Hydrocodone overdose symptoms may include the following:
- Digestive issues
- Profound drowsiness
- Incoherent speech
- Shortness of breath
- Perilous slow breathing
- Respiratory arrest
- Cold, clammy skin
- Blue or purple skin
If you witness someone who appears to be overdosing on Norco or any other drug, this is a medical emergency. Please call 911 or seek medical help immediately.
Hydrocodone is often perceived as being a relatively benign drug compared to its more potent relatives, like heroin. However, this is a false and very dangerous assumption. Make no mistake, the abuse of hydrocodone, especially with other drugs or alcohol, can be just as deadly as any other opioid.
Treatment for Norco Addiction
If you or someone you know is abusing or addicted to hydrocodone, help is available! Harmony Recovery Centers offers comprehensive programs that specialize in the treatment of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our programs feature evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, medication-assisted treatment, and more.
Our team of addiction professionals is committed to providing people with the vital tools and support they need to recover from addiction. We believe that every person, regardless of their past, has the right to receive treatment and deserves to have a chance at a better, healthier life.
If you are ready to end your suffering, contact us today and discover how we help people liberate themselves from the shackles of addiction for life!