Lortab Addiction & Abuse
By The Recovery Village Ridgefield
Editor Abby Doty | Medically Reviewed By Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Last Updated: May 26, 2023
Editorial Policy | Research Policy
Lortab is a prescription medication that contains the opioid hydrocodone and the painkiller acetaminophen. It is similar to other drugs like Norco, Vicodin and Lorcet.
Lortab is typically prescribed for acute pain following a surgery or injury. It can also be prescribed long-term for patients with chronic pain, though this is not as common. With any opioid pain relief medication, there is a potential for abuse and addiction. Lortab is no different.
What Is Lortab Used For?
Lortab is FDA-approved to treat moderate to severe pain that requires an opioid. It is a short-acting medication usually prescribed as needed instead of around the clock. Together with other acetaminophen-hydrocodone combination drugs, Lortab is a common medication and is the 15th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States as of 2019, reaching more than 10 million Americans in 2019 alone.
How Long Does Lortab Stay in Your System?
Lortab peaks in your system around an hour and a half following the last dose but keeps working for around 4–6 hours.
However, the drug can be detected in your system for much longer than that, depending on what is being tested:
- Urine: Lortab can be found in your urine for up to 3 days following the last dose.
- Blood: Lortab is detectable in blood for up to 8.8 hours after the last dose.
- Saliva: Lortab can be found in saliva for up to 2 days after the last dose.
- Hair: A 1.5-inch hair sample can show if Lortab has been used in the prior 90 days.
Whether or not a drug test finds Lortab in your system depends on several factors, which include:
- The Lortab dose you were taking
- How often you took Lortab
- Your age
- Your sex
- Any other medical conditions you have
- Any other medications you are taking
- Your overall hydration and nutrition status
Because Lortab is a short-acting opioid combination drug, it is meant to only be dosed as needed. This is in contrast to long-acting opioids, which are typically supposed to be taken once or twice a day.
It is important to take Lortab only as prescribed by your doctor and not take more of the drug or more often than prescribed. The usual max recommended dose for Lortab is:
|Lortab dose||Max recommended dose|
|5 mg hydrocodone/325 mg acetaminophen||1 to 2 tablets every 4 to 6 hours as needed, to a max of 12 tablets a day|
|7.5 mg hydrocodone/325 mg acetaminophen||1 tablet every 4 to 6 hours as needed, to a max of 6 tablets a day|
|10 mg hydrocodone/325 mg acetaminophen||1 tablet every 4 to 6 hours as needed, to a max of 6 tablets a day|
What Does Lortab Look Like?
Lortab comes as orally administered tablets only. Although generic versions are available and their appearance can vary widely depending on the manufacturer, brand-name Lortab has a specific appearance. This makes it easy to identify Lortab tablets that you may find:
|5 mg hydrocodone/325 mg acetaminophen||White oval tablet with a line for tablet-splitting on one side and G 035 imprinted on the other|
|7.5 mg hydrocodone/325 mg acetaminophen||White oval tablet with a line for tablet-splitting on one side and G 036 imprinted on the other|
|10 mg hydrocodone/325 mg acetaminophen||White oval tablet with a line for tablet-splitting on one side and G 037 imprinted on the other|
Is Lortab Addictive?
As a Schedule II controlled substance, Lortab carries a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. Hydrocodone is the opioid ingredient in Lortab that carries these risks. Acetaminophen, which is also contained in the drug, is not an addictive drug.
Lortab vs. Norco
Lortab and Norco are nearly identical drugs. They both contain the same ingredients — hydrocodone and acetaminophen — in the same doses and are used to treat the same conditions. The main difference between Lortab and Norco is the manufacturer: Norco is made by the pharmaceutical company Allergan while Lortab is made by Tris Pharma.
|Contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen||✓||✓|
|Available as an oral tablet only||✓||✓|
|Available in strengths of 5/325mg, 7.5/325, and 10/325mg only||✓||✓|
|Prescribed every 4 to 6 hours as needed||✓||✓|
|FDA-approved to treat pain||✓||✓|
|Schedule II controlled substance||✓||✓|
|Made by Allergan||✓|
|Made by Tris Pharma||✓|
Lortab Side Effects
Like all drugs, Lortab has some side effects. The most common ones include:
Lortab and Alcohol
You should avoid alcohol when taking Lortab for a couple of different reasons. First, both alcohol and hydrocodone are central nervous system depressants. Taking them together may increase the risks of side effects or overdose.
Second, Lortab contains acetaminophen, which can be toxic to the liver, especially when combined with alcohol. For this reason, it is important not to drink if you are taking Lortab.
During a Lortab overdose, the opioid slows your breathing and heart rate, which can be fatal. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of overdose symptoms, which can include:
- Small pupils
- Falling asleep
- Losing consciousness
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Choking or gurgling sounds
- Limp muscles
- Pale, blue, clammy or cold skin
If you suspect someone is having a Lortab overdose, give naloxone (Narcan) if available and call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help — you will not get in trouble for saving a life.
Lortab contains acetaminophen as well as hydrocodone, and it is possible to overdose on both substances. However, the symptoms of an acetaminophen overdose may not occur for over a day after you take a too-high Lortab dose. In contrast, the symptoms of a hydrocodone overdose can be evident within a few minutes.
Signs of an acetaminophen overdose include:
- Dark urine
- Abdominal pain
- Liver damage, including liver failure
If you take Lortab on a regular basis and suddenly stop taking the drug, you will often begin to have withdrawal symptoms. These occur because your body has adapted to the presence of Lortab. You can enter withdrawal within 8–24 hours after the last Lortab dose, and withdrawal can last up to ten days.
Lortab withdrawal symptoms resemble those of other opioids and include:
- Muscle aches
- Sleep problems
- Increased tear production
- Runny nose
- Large pupils
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
Opioid withdrawal can be very difficult to manage on your own without help. Quitting cold turkey can lead to intense symptoms, which can increase the risk of relapse and make long-term sobriety more difficult.
For this reason, medical detox centers are a good alternative to help you quit Lortab for good. In medical detox, you undergo around-the-clock care from a team of doctors and nurses who can treat your withdrawal symptoms as they arise. This leads to a more comfortable withdrawal and a greater chance of staying Lortab-free. We also offer medication-assisted treatment with methadone and buprenorphine to help curb Lortab cravings as you recover.
Lortab Addiction Treatment
The Recovery Village Ridgefield offers a variety of treatment options if you struggle with a Lortab addiction. Our detox center outside Portland, Oregon has 16 beds and around-the-clock medical care. Our personalized treatment plans include nutritional counseling and treatment for any co-occurring disorders like mental health issues.
Following detox, experts agree that rehab is an important part of remaining Lortab-free over the long term. The Recovery Village Ridgefield offers both inpatient and outpatient treatment options for rehab, including teletherapy. In the Cascade Mountains of Southwest Washington, our recovery center offers robust services to help keep you off Lortab over the long term.
If you or a loved one struggles with Lortab, you are not alone. Contact our knowledgeable intake experts today to learn how we can help.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.
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