Norco Addiction

Norco is a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, hydrocodone is associated with more drug abuse than any other opioid, legal or illegal. Hydrocodone is the most widely prescribed drug in the nation.

Norco addiction and other substance abuse is becoming a crisis in the United States. In fact, the White House calls prescription drug abuse, "the nation's fastest-growing drug problem." After marijuana, prescriptions such as Norco are the most abused drugs among young people in the United States. In 2010, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 7 million people in the United States were using psychotherapeutic drugs non-medically, which means they took it to get high or for a condition other than the one for which the doctor had intended.

Long-term abuse of some prescription drugs, especially opioids such as Norco, can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Anyone can develop a Norco addiction or dependence after taking this drug for a long time. Physical dependence and Norco addiction are serious diseases, requiring the help of a qualified professional.

Admission rates for Norco addiction and other substance abuse problems are on the rise too. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports the U.S. admission rate for opioids other than heroin went up 414 percent between 1997 and 2007. This means about seven people in every 100,000 were admitted for opioid treatment in 1997, as compared to 2007 admission rates of 36 people per 100,000.

This rise in opioid abuse is due, in large part, to the fact that opioids are plentiful in the United States. Americans take more opioids than another other nation on earth. Even though Americans represent only about 5 percent of global population, they consume 80 percent of the world's supply of opioids, according to the Institute of Addiction Medicine.

The Definition of Addiction

Norco addiction is a disease that affects your brain's reward, motivation, memory and related functions. Norco addiction is a chronic condition, which means you will require long-term care. Addiction is a primary disease, arising on its own and not as the result of another disease or condition.

Norco addiction alters the cells of your central nervous system, or CNS, in a way that results in physical, psychological, social and cognitive changes. These neurological changes make you act a certain way. Doctors look for these behaviors to help them diagnose Norco addiction. These behaviors include an inability to stop using this drug consistently, craving Norco, and being unable to control behavior in other ways. If you are suffering from Norco addiction, you may not recognize the significant problems resulting from your behavior or be unable to see how your addiction affects your relationships with others.

As with other chronic diseases, Norco addiction frequently involves cycles of relapse and remission, even with long-term treatment. Without treatment, Norco addiction grows worse and may eventually result in disability or premature death.

Addiction versus Dependence

Addiction and dependence are two distinct and independent medical conditions. With continuous use, anyone can become addicted to Norco, dependent upon it, or both.

Your body responds to the things you put into it, such as food, cigarette smoke or medicine like Norco. Your body adapts to these foreign substances by adjusting its own chemical balance. If you continue to use Norco for a long time, your body will begin to depend on a certain level of Norco to feel "normal." If the level of Norco were to drop, your body would struggle to maintain chemical balance. You would feel this battle for stability through unpleasant, flu-like withdrawal symptoms.

Doctors may diagnose you as being opioid-dependent if you experience withdrawal symptoms after the level of opioids decline in your body. You may cause this rapid decline by skipping a dose of Norco, taking an insufficient dose or by consuming a medication that causes opioid levels to drop. One such medicine is naloxone, used by doctors to bring opioids down to safe levels after an overdose.

Norco withdrawal symptoms are similar to other opioids and include:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever, Runny Nose or Sneezing
  • Goose Bumps and Abnormal Skin Sensations
  • Hot Sweats and Cold Sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Low Energy Level
  • Muscle Aches or Pains
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Rigid Muscles
  • Runny Nose
  • Shivering, Tremors
  • Teary Eyes
  • Yawning

If you are dependent on Norco, you will experience physical withdrawal symptoms when you run out of Norco. If you suffer from Norco addiction, you will express behavioral symptoms such as cravings and drug seeking when your supply runs low.

Symptoms of Norco addiction include:

  • Inability to Consistently Abstain from Norco Use
  • Other Behavioral Control Problems
  • Cravings for Norco
  • An Inability to Recognize Significant Problems with One's Own Behaviors and Interpersonal Relationships
  • Inappropriate Emotional Response

You can be addicted to something and not dependent upon it, and vice versa. For example, you could be dependent on an anti-hypertensive; if you do not take your medication, your blood pressure will rise and your body fights to maintain chemical stability, but you would not feel cravings or engage in drug-seeking behaviors. On the other hand, using cocaine for a long time may cause you to become addicted but not physically dependent on it - you will crave cocaine if you stop using it but you will not suffer the typical flu-like symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal.

Drug seeking activity

A person with a Norco drug addiction will learn how to get prescription drugs from doctors and pharmacists. One drug-seeking tactic is to place an emergency call or visit just as the physician is closing up the office and then refusing examination, testing or referral to another facility. Someone with a Norco addiction may seem to lose her prescriptions frequently; she may even tamper with her written prescription to get more pills in each bottle. She may be reluctant to provide her prior medical records or contact information for her other caregivers. Many people with an untreated Norco addiction will go "doctor shopping" to get as many written prescriptions as they can.

Addiction: What Family Members Should Know

Addiction is a disease that affects the central nervous system, and not an indication of poor child-rearing skills or that someone has a weak moral character. As with any other medical condition, your family member relies on your love and support to help him through his recovery attempts. Because Norco addiction usually involves cycles of remission and relapse, you may need to remain dedicated to recovery for weeks, months or years.

Everyone in the immediate family shares a risk for developing an addiction. Scientists now know that genetics play an important role in the development of addiction to substances such as Norco and other opioids. Researchers have also established that stresses within the home environment raises everyone's risk for developing an addiction sometime in their lives.

Stress and Other Environmental Factors

Stress within the home or at the workplace increases the risk for addictive behaviors for everyone within that environment. Researchers think some people suffer from hypersensitivity to stress that increases their changes for developing an addiction. Parents may pass this hypersensitivity onto a child.

Children also pick up behaviors from their parents. Adults who do not know how to deal with stress teach their children poor coping mechanisms. Children who watch parents deal with stress by drinking or taking drugs such as Norco are likely to cope with pressure the same way.

Reducing environmental stress decreases the risk of Norco addiction for each member of the family. It is important to learn how to resolve conflicts without resorting to arguments or violence, balance household responsibilities fairly and reduce the ambient stress levels within the home.

Norco addiction affects the entire family and puts everyone in danger. Norco addiction inflicts collateral damage to a large radius surrounding the addicted person, including his children, spouse, family members, friends and co-workers.

Norco addiction steals money from the family's grocery budget, rent and childcare. A parent battling Norco addiction is unable to give his children the guidance, support and financial care they need because the addiction steals an ever-increasing share of his time and resources.

Norco addiction prevents someone from doing his job well on those days he is able to show up at all. His boss loses patience as the worker loses the ability to give a fair day's work for the money. Norco addiction may cause him to lose the job his family depends on.

Norco addiction leads a person to associate with people he probably would have avoided in the past. Doctor shopping, filing phony prescriptions or other drug-seeking behaviors stop working after a while; Norco addiction forces him to get his Norco from drug dealers. At first, he may keep his drug dealer at a safe distance from his family but as his disease gets worse, he drops his defenses and invites this criminal element in. This endangers everyone in his home.

Without a job, he may have to resort to crime to feed his drug habit. Criminal activity ultimately ends in arrest, jail time and possible conviction. Participating in the legal system is expensive, diverting still more money from the family.

Norco addiction can also drive up medical costs, especially if it results in overdose or an infectious disease commonly associated with drug use.

Addiction: What Parents Should Know

Teenagers and young adults are abusing prescription painkillers more frequently now because these drugs are widely available. Teenagers get opioids such as Norco free from the family medicine cabinet, from friends or relatives. Because prescription drugs are legal, young people attach less of a social stigma to opioids such as Norco than to marijuana or heroin.

Parents of teens or young adults should look for warning signs including:

  • Unusual loss of interest in things that once were important
  • Drop in academic or athletic performance
  • Loss of motivation or energy
  • Finds ways to sneak off
  • Money issues
  • Items missing from the home

Caring for a Family Member with an Addiction

Norco addiction can unravel the fabric of a tightly knit family. Family members must work together to maintain a supportive network that helps the individual recover from his Norco addiction. Each member of the family participates in his own way, according to his age and abilities. For example, a grandparent might prepare meals, a younger child can do some light housework and an older child with a license can run errands.

A family must communicate if they are going to function as a team. This communication can happen between just two or three individuals, but it works best if the whole family shares ideas and viewpoints. Hold family meetings on a regular basis to discuss progress and treatment options.

The addicted person does not have to participate in family meetings at first - he may be reluctant to talk about his illness in the beginning. He might even become angry when he learns his family wants to become involved in his Norco addiction. Fortunately, anger and resentment typically goes away after some time.

Norco addiction inflicts plenty of collateral damage on innocent bystanders but recovery efforts can affect a family in a positive way. Treatment for Norco addiction brings a family closer together, as does other types of adversity in life. Working as a team to reduce stress, the family resolves any issues that put them all at risk for developing addictions.

The family unit plays a critical role in recovery from Norco addiction. It is vital that the family encourages the addicted individual to seek and complete treatment for his Norco addiction. It is common for a family member to have chosen the treatment facility the addicted individual eventually attends.

The treatment and recovery experience works best when the individual feels physically, emotionally and spiritually safe in his home environment. Family members must recognize Norco addiction as a disease and work to avoid blaming the individual for his illness.

When to Suggest Treatment

It is possible to stop the progression of Norco addiction at any time. Like other medical conditions, recovery from addiction may be easier with early treatment, before the disease can make lasting changes to the nervous system.

Do not let your loved one hit rock bottom before encouraging her to seek treatment. The rock bottom of Norco addiction could include a lengthy prison sentence, disease, toxic overdose, divorce, unemployment, homelessness or even death. Each consequence of Norco addiction puts recovery another step further away.

Recovery often starts when the individual feels the full brunt of the problems her addiction causes. Frequently, caring family members try to cushion their loved one from the consequences of her Norco addiction. This allows the addictive behaviors to continue. It is important to know how to support your loved one without enabling her addiction. Family counseling can give you the skills you need to help the one you love without harming her.

Signs of Addiction

Norco addiction causes neurological changes that alter the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. Doctors use these cognitive, emotional and behavioral changes to diagnose a patient as having a Norco addiction.

Behavioral, Cognitive and Emotional Changes

Behavioral:

If you are struggling with a Norco addiction, you will use this opioid excessively, often at higher doses and more frequently than you intend. You might say you want to cut down or stop completely, even while you are taking more Norco. You may try to quit Norco several times but have trouble staying away permanently.

Your Norco addiction causes you to spend a great deal of time looking for this opioid, getting high or recovering from drug abuse. Norco addiction takes time away from work, engaging in a relationship or taking care of a child.

Your Norco addiction drives you to continue abusing this drug, despite the terrible toll it takes on your life. Left untreated or poorly treated, Norco addiction will change the reward circuitry of your brain so that you eventually loses passion for everything you used to love. Soon, you only feel a sense of reward when you use Norco.

Cognitive:

Norco addiction changes the way you think. If you suffer from Norco addiction, you are preoccupied with Norco - it is all you can think of. Your view of the relative benefits and risks associated with Norco shift so that you acknowledge only the positive aspects of Norco and none of the harm. You may blame other people or situations for your problems rather than attributing them to your Norco addiction.

Emotional:

Norco addiction changes the way you feel. An addicted person often expresses increased anxiety, unhappiness and emotional pain. Norco addiction often makes the world seem more stressful.

Norco addiction makes it hard for you to identify or express your feelings. Additionally, you may be unable to distinguish your emotions from your bodily sensations.

Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction manifests itself in a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms can be obvious or subtle, and vary from person to person.

Physical Symptoms

While specialists normally describe Norco addiction as a behavioral problem, a person addicted to Norco does display certain physical symptoms.

Physical symptoms of drug addiction include:

  • Unexplained Weight Gain or Weight Loss
  • A Change in Sleep Patterns
  • Deteriorating Physical Appearance - Looks Sickly
  • Nagging Cough
  • Diminished Hygiene Care
  • Body or Clothing May Have an Unusual Odor
  • Bloodshot Eyes with Large or Small Pupils
  • Tremors
  • Slurred Speech

Psychological Symptoms

The psychological symptoms of Norco addiction can be difficult to recognize because this disease often separates the addicted individual from those people who know him best. Psychological symptoms of Norco addiction can perpetuate drug abuse and increase resistance to treatment. Left undiagnosed, untreated or poorly treated, psychological symptoms of Norco addiction may prohibit a successful recovery.

Psychological symptoms of addiction to opioids include:

  • Inability to Abstain Consistently
  • Impairment in Behavioral Control
  • Cravings for Drugs or Intense Reward Experiences
  • Diminished Capacity to Recognize Significant Personal or Relationship Problems
  • Dysfunctional Emotional Response

Gender Differences

According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, men were twice as likely to abuse illicit substances or be dependent on drugs such as heroin, cocaine or marijuana as women. In 2010, 5.9 percent of females admitted to using illicit drugs, as compared to 11.6 percent of males.

While fewer women abuse illegal drugs such cocaine or heroin, females are more apt to use prescription drugs, such as opioids, to get high or to treat a condition for which it was not prescribed. Females are also more likely to combine prescription drugs like opioids with alcohol, marijuana or other opioids.

Men abuse their drug of choice differently than women do. Men tend to get high in social settings, while women abuse drugs alone, in the privacy of their own homes. Women with substance abuse problems hold very few friendships, whereas addicted men have wide social circles. The way the two genders abuse drugs such as opioids could be because men feel comfortable getting high while women face strong social stigmas against drug use and addiction among females.

Men and women may come to opioids addiction differently. Men abuse drugs for recreational purposes while women often begin opioids addiction after using this medication as prescribed. For example, studies suggest physicians prescribe mood-altering drugs more frequently to female alcoholics than to male alcoholics because the healthcare providers attribute the cause of the female's condition to be rooted in depression, anxiety or some other emotional difficulty. 

Cause of Gender Differences

Norco addiction affects men and women of all races, economic and educational levels. While anyone can become addicted to Norco or other substances, scientific studies have shed light on some surprising gender differences when it comes to substance abuse, dependence and addiction.

A woman's Norco addiction or other substance abuse problems may have its roots in her early childhood. Addicted women often come from families where one or more relatives struggled with substance abuse problems or addictions. Addicted women sometimes report having to carry too much domestic responsibility as a child. These women also report a turbulent childhood home environment

Addicted women often believe a difficult relationship or traumatic event lead them to substance abuse and addiction. Women name genetics, family history or environmental stress responsible for their drug abuse problems.

Women with addictions are frequently in relationships with a partner who also has a substance abuse problem. A woman who shares a Norco addiction may feel like she is abandoning her partner, or that she is breaking some sort of bond between them. Abstaining from substance abuse and dealing with Norco addiction is difficult, especially if there is an abundance of available drugs in the home. A woman may rely on her addicted partner financially, and feel she will lose this financial support if she quits doing drugs.

Addicted females often have co-existing psychological problems such as a poor body image or eating disorders and are more likely to have attempted suicide. Women with opioids addiction report lower expectations for their lives. Women with addictions tend to have less education, fewer marketable skills and less job experience than males. 

Females seek out help more frequently than males do but females do not complete rehabilitation as often. Women face additional barriers to recovery, such as being able to afford quality treatment or finding childcare while the mother is in rehabilitation.

Treatment Options

Addiction to substances such as Norco can cause "disability or premature death, especially when left untreated or treated inadequately," according to the American Society of Addictive Medicine. Without proper medical treatment, you might find yourself trapped in a dangerous cycle of recovery and relapse.

Your treatment for Norco addiction has two phases: detoxification and rehabilitation. Detoxification is the medical process of lowering Norco levels in your body. You can expect several days of intense withdrawal symptoms as your body adjusts to lower levels of Norco.

The rehabilitation phase focuses on restoring the neurological function disrupted by Norco addiction. This part of treatment includes behavior modification and counseling that teaches you how to live without Norco.

Detoxification

At some point in your Norco addiction, you may be tempted to try self-detoxification, sometimes called "going cold turkey." This phrase refers to your skin will appear cold and clammy with goose bumps, much like a plucked turkey. Your skin will look like normal a few days after you stop using Norco.

During self-detoxification, you will experience the full brunt of withdrawal symptoms and face an increased risk for suffering complications. One such complication is aspiration, which is when you vomit and then inhale the stomach contents into your lungs. Aspiration may result in fluid in your lungs and lung infections.

Another complication is dehydration resulting from excessive diarrhea or vomiting. Dehydration, left untreated, can cause electrolyte imbalances and other serious medical conditions.

The primary complication associated with detoxification is the return to Norco abuse. Many individuals cycle between detoxification and relapse.

Withdrawal symptoms, known in the medical world as opiate abstinence syndrome, occur several hours after your last dose of Norco.

Symptoms of Norco withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred Vision
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Tremor
  • Vomiting

The goal of self-detoxification is to make it through five or more days, with the worst symptoms occurring on or about the fourth day. Many people take another dose of Norco just to ease the discomfort.

Some people create treatment plans that include specific medicines to reduce individual withdrawal symptoms. One such therapy is The Thomas Recipe, which includes valium or some other benzodiazepine to calm the nerves and help the individual sleep. Imodium eases diarrhea while mineral supplements and hot baths relieve muscle aches.

On or about the fourth day, the individual awakens with lack of energy and overwhelming malaise that makes it difficult to move around. The patient takes L-Tyrosine with B6 for a burst of energy.

While the Thomas Recipe addresses some withdrawal symptoms, the patient still faces a high risk for complications such as aspiration, dehydration and relapse. Returning to Norco addiction after even a short attempt at detoxification may result in life threatening overdose. Tolerance to Norco drops throughout the detoxification process; as a result, he can overdose on a smaller amount of Norco than he used to take before attempting detoxification.

Overdose

Norco addiction may result in a toxic overdose that can cause death. If you think you or someone you know has taken too much Norco, seek emergency assistance immediately by going to the emergency room or calling an ambulance. If you need immediate help, contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Symptoms of Norco overdose include:

  • Breathing that Stops
  • Cold, Clammy Skin
  • Confusion
  • Extreme Drowsiness
  • Fainting
  • Pinpoint Pupils
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Weak Pulse

Norco overdose is a serious, life threatening medical emergency requiring immediate care. In the emergency department, doctors give the patient naloxone and other medications to reduce Norco to safe levels. Nurses establish an airway to help the patient breathe and monitor his vital signs. Nurses may empty the patient's stomach or administer charcoal to absorb excess Norco. If necessary, nurses and doctors perform CPR or other life-saving measures.

Some people with a Norco addiction who are in otherwise good physical condition could benefit from Drug Replacement Therapy, or DRT. Patients in DRT replace illegal drugs with medications such as methadone, Suboxone or buprenorphine. DRT medications act similarly to opioids, so the patient does not experience withdrawal symptoms, but DRT drugs do not get the consumer high. This allows a person with a Norco addiction to put off the detoxification stage while he begins behavioral modification. After the patient learns how to live without Norco, he weans himself from the replacement drug.

Many patients with a Norco addiction support DRT because it allowed them to work and live at home while they engaged in treatment. Opponents of DRT say it is merely trading one addiction for another. Many people have trouble quitting the replacement drug. Harvard Medical School says that 25 percent of methadone DRT patients eventually quit using drugs altogether, another 25 percent continues to take the replacement drug and 50 percent go on and off methadone.

DRT is just one kind of Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT. Medications reduce the overpowering symptoms of withdrawal, enabling the patient to tolerate the process long enough to successfully detoxify his body.

Rehabilitation professionals say that MAT is an important and effective treatment approach because it:

  • Improves Survival Rates
  • Increase Retention in Treatment
  • Decreases Illicit Opioid Use
  • Decreases The Risk for Hepatitis and HIV
  • Decreases Criminal Activities
  • Increases Employment
  • Improves Birth Outcomes for Pregnant Women Battling Addiction

Standard MAT involves a hospital stay. During inpatient care, doctors administer naloxone and other medications to reduce Norco levels along with drugs for the withdrawal symptoms. While standard inpatient MAT relieves the strength and duration of symptoms a bit, patients still face a lengthy, uncomfortable and demoralizing battle that leaves psychological scars that can interfere with recovery from Norco addiction. Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment for Norco addiction and by itself does little to change long-term drug use or addictive behavior.

Many experts consider rapid detox to be the most humane form of detoxification available today. Rapid detox quickly puts the patient in a good place to deal with her Norco addiction. During rapid detox, board certified anesthesiologists administer the standard detoxification and anti-withdrawal drugs alongside sedatives and anesthesia, so that patient naps in a restful "twilight sleep." When she awakens, she will have no memory of the grueling detoxification process. Instead of a few days, she is ready for meaningful behavior modification in a few hours.

Rehabilitation

Because Norco addiction is a neurological disease that presents itself through certain behaviors such as craving and drug seeking, it is essential for everyone struggling with Norco addiction to participate in behavior modification. Without behavior modification, the individual is likely to return to Norco abuse.

Norco addiction is a complex condition that can affects many aspects of an individual's life. Each person experiences Norco addiction differently, therefore no single treatment is appropriate for everyone. There is a variety of approaches, so an individual struggling with Norco addiction should seek out a program that best fits his needs. Treatment needs to be readily available to encourage maximum participation. Remaining in treatment for an adequate amount of time is critical to prevent relapse.

Effective treatment addresses the individual's multiple needs, not just her Norco addiction. Many who suffer addiction to Norco or other substances have other mental disorders, legal trouble, social problems or relationship issues that compound addiction and increase the risk for relapse.

Rehabilitation specialists will assess patients for diseases such as HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Therapeutic programs should include counseling to help patients identify and change behaviors that increase their risk for getting or spreading infectious diseases.

Rehabilitation therapists typically use individual counseling, group therapy and other behavioral modification programs to treat Norco addiction. Rehabilitation professionals need to monitor the patient's treatment course and progress to make sure treatment meets the individual's needs. Relapse is common and professional monitoring reduces the risk for return to Norco abuse.