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Lorcet Addiction, Withdrawal | Hydrocodone Side Effects, Alternatives, Tapering

Last Updated on August 15, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Michael Loes MD

Hydrocodone (discontinued brand name Lorcet) is an immediate-release pain reliever combining synthetic opiate hydrocodone with acetaminophen, prescribed for moderate to severe pain. While acetaminophen boosts the pain-relieving effects of hydrocodone, high doses can be toxic to the liver when used over a substantial length of time. While the brand name has been discontinued, the generic drug hydrocodone is used in many compounds under various brand names including Anexsia©, Norco©, and others. Some of these compounds are immediate-release formulations, and some are extended-release versions. The FDA has updated packaging information to include black box warnings concerning injury to the liver, and high risk of addiction. 3-5

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Lorcet (hydrocodone) is a pain reliever that comes in oral pill form, with similar side effects, withdrawals, addiction potential, and other characteristics as occur with other synthetic opiate-based medications.

There are many such medications that combine synthetic opiates with another analgesic agent, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc. to increase the ability of hydrocodone to suppress pain. Lorcet can be habit-forming due to its pleasant, euphoric effects and should only be taken as prescribed for as short a time as possible.


AN IMPORTANT note about disposing of unused medications:  never flush medications down the sink or toilet, but return them to the pharmacy where you got them. The pharmacy will safely dispose of leftover medications for you, in a way that will not harm the environment or contaminate the drinking water in your community.

What Is Lorcet Used for?

Lorcet is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone in liquid form is also used off-label as a cough suppressant in cough syrup. Hydrocodone is sometimes prescribed “off-label” for insomnia.

Lorcet Alternative Names and Slang

There are many versions of hydrocodone combined with acetaminophen that emerged in the US and around the globe. The brand names which contained more than 325mg of acetaminophen have all been discontinued in the US. It is unclear which ones may still be in use in other countries.6 Some products containing both hydrocodone and acetaminophen include:

  • Zydone©
  • Vicodin©
  • Norco©
  • Lortab©
  • Hycet©
  • Anexsia©
  • Lorcet Maxidone©
  • Dolorex Forte©
  • Zodol©
  • Zamicet©

Any drug compounded with hydrocodone will carry the risk of becoming habit-forming and may produce life-threatening depression. Acetaminophen in any product poses a risk of liver damage, especially when used in high doses and over a long period of time.

Lorcet Side Effects

Side effects of Lorcet are similar to those of other opiate narcotics. While taking Lorcet, you may feel drowsy and your thinking may be impaired. To avoid accidents and injuries, do not drive or operate machinery while taking a hydrocodone compound such as Lorcet or similar.

Acetaminophen can cause a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Signs of this condition include a sudden high fever, confusion, hallucinations, shaking or tremors, partial or full loss of consciousness, coma, hives, and a rash that can quickly cover much of the body and the skin may begin to blister and peel. Seek medical assistance if this should occur or start to occur, by ambulance if necessary so that medical intervention can occur without delay. This is a potentially fatal reaction.

Other Lorcet side effects can include:
  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Unusually happy or unusually sad
  • Skin reactions such as itching or hives
  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Contraction of the pupils
  • Dry mouth, dry throat
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Trouble urinating
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Tightness across the chest
  • Liver damage

Lorcet Withdrawal Symptoms

In almost all cases, coming off Lorcet should be done in a gradual way, cutting down the dose bit by bit over time. There are some rare cases when in a hospital setting, the drug needs to be withdrawn immediately, such as in an overdose situation or when a life-threatening reaction has occurred. In general, symptoms of withdrawal can be somewhat lessened with a gradual taper or medically assisted detox.

Lorcet withdrawal symptoms may include:
  • Sweating
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Skin rash
  • Itching

Discontinuing/Quitting Lorcet

Stopping Lorcet should be done with medical oversight, gradually reducing the dosage so as to minimize withdrawal symptoms, allowing the body to normalize again without too much shock to the system.

Providing a diet that is rich with the precursors or nutritional elements that the body needs to replenish natural neurochemicals adequately can significantly support the recovery process.
Another aspect of recovery can be assisted by the removal of the neurotoxic load that has accumulated over the lifetime of the individual. This process often relieves some of the problematic symptomatology that has been plaguing the person for a very long time.
In certain cases, bridge medications can help ease the most arduous withdrawals, and can then be tapered off gently. There are many ways to help a person successfully quit Lorcet in a clinical treatment setting. If you have other questions on this topic please reach out to us and we can provide you with the information you would like to receive.

Lorcet FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about Lorcet that may help in considering starting or stopping this medication.

Is Lorcet an Opioid?

Lorcet contains a synthetic opioid called hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is derived from opium poppies, similar to heroin or Oxycodone. Lorcet and all drugs containing hydrocodone are Schedule II medications, in the same class as fentanyl, methamphetamine, and morphine, because of their habit-forming characteristics.13

When was Lorcet Discontinued?

The exact history of delisting all high-dose acetaminophen and hydrocodone drugs is not widely published, but we do know that by 2014 all such drugs including Lorcet had been formally discontinued as ordered by the FDA in the US.10

Why was Acetaminophen Limited to 325mg in all Hydrocodone Products?

Studies revealed that high-dose acetaminophen products such as Lorcet (containing up to 660mg acetaminophen) were extremely toxic to the liver and could be lethal. By 2014, all such drugs were either limited to 325mg acetaminophen or discontinued to help reduce the risk of liver damage.11

Is Hydrocodone Linked with Opiate Deaths?

Information from the Mortality File registered in the National Vital Statistics System showed that opioid-analgesic poisoning deaths increased 4-fold from 1999 to 2011. That is approximately 2700 deaths in 1999 as compared to nearly 12,000 deaths in 2011.12

Treatment for Lorcet Abuse and Addiction

Many people find that they become addicted to pain medication such as Lorcet or equivalents, inadvertently. Others used Lorcet recreationally for the euphoric and relaxing effects and also become addicted. Whatever your path of addiction may have been, coming off Lorcet does not have to be torturous.

The body creates agents to control pain called endorphins and enkephalins.1,2 These are natural chemicals or peptides found everywhere in body tissue, and they are able to block pain. Medications such as Lorcet are designed to mimic these natural chemicals. However, the body responds to the presence of these analogues by shutting down the internal production of natural endorphins and enkephalins. When the opioid drug intake is lessened or removed, the body is left defenseless and subject to the pains, aches, digestive issues, etc. that make opiate withdrawal so harsh and difficult to endure. Even a sheet lying across the body or a light touch to the arm can feel excruciatingly painful to someone who is in opiate withdrawal. These symptoms will continue to be problematic until the body can replenish the deficit. This normalization can be accelerated and supported during and after withdrawal through proper diet, targeted nutritional supplementation and other means.

Emotions are also affected by a deficit of natural endorphins. A low-endorphin person may not have much of a buffer or defense left against emotional disturbance until the situation is corrected. This person may have already been low in endorphins before drug use, which could have significantly contributed to being drawn to opiates in the first place. The endorphin deficiency may also help explain why emotions can be so painful to endure, especially during opioid recovery.


For those who have developed a PTSD condition, the emotional and often physical pain threshold is very low. The environment can feel profoundly threatening, and the neurochemistry in a lowered state can do nothing to buffer against this strain. This can be further compounded when considering an opioid withdrawal and these factors all need to be addressed as part of the individual’s treatment to address co-occurring disorders at Alternative to Meds Center.7

Chronic Pain

Pain that has been endured for a long period of time also tends to deplete natural stores of endorphins and enkephalins. Where opioids have been used to combat pain, the problem has been further compounded. During opioid use, the body attempts to build new pain receptors as this is instinctive, adapting to and keeping the “pain-alert-response” mechanism alive and well. This is a survival mechanism. But it can significantly magnify the perception of pain during opiate withdrawal. These are important issues that need to be attended to for a person to be able to withstand withdrawal. Many opiate users actually find their pain levels decrease as they reduce their medication, as long as the correct adjunctive therapies are being utilized during the tapering process to compensate and bring the body back into balance as quickly as possible.8


If the body has not been receiving the correct nutrition, the precursors for repairing neurochemistry are not available. During an Alternative to Meds Program, an exacting diet gives an individual the important building blocks to ensure that the body has all the raw materials necessary to rebuild and correct deficiencies as quickly as possible. This will help combat and proof against the vulnerability to pain or emotional sensitivity during withdrawal. This strengthening and boosting process also continues in the later stages of recovery.9

Hydrocodone Withdrawal at Alternative to Meds Center

drug recovery sedona arizonaAlternative to Meds Center provides the necessary tools for safe opiate withdrawal. Where needed, a short course of bridge medications can ease the person through the initial stages of hydrocodone withdrawal and helps to make the process as humane and comfortable as possible. At Alternative to Meds Center, we utilize a compassionate and science-based approach to opiate medication withdrawal. including an orthomolecular diet rich in precursors to natural endorphins, as well as trauma counseling, CBT, addiction counseling and life coaching, the removal of neurotoxicity, and many therapies during and after holistic detox, designed to provide comfort and relief through the process. You can review these in detail on our services overview pages. Once the drug is tapered to zero, comprehensive treatment can continue to normalize the neurochemistry so that lingering after-effects can fade in an accelerated fashion.

Please contact us at the Center for more information about the programs we offer, and discover how this may be the program you or a loved one can benefit from most for sustainable, natural, mental health and many levels of success in addiction recovery.

1. Elsevier’s Integrated Physiology Ch. 13 Endocrine System Elsevier 2007 Robert G. Carroll [cited 2022 Aug 12]

2. Enkephalins Encyclopedia Britannica [cited 2022 Aug 12]

3. Cofano S, Yellon R. Hydrocodone. [Updated 2021 Nov 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:  [cited 2022 Aug 12]

4. FDA label Norco (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetominophen tablets) published 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 12]

5. FDA label  Norco (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetominophen tablets) published 2014 [cited 2022 Aug 12]

6. FDA Notice of discontinuation Zydone 400mg/5mg [N.D.] [cited 2022 Aug 12]

7. Fareed A, Eilender P, Haber M, Bremner J, Whitfield N, Drexler K. Comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder and opiate addiction: a literature review. J Addict Dis. 2013;32(2):168-79. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2013.795467. PMID: 23815424. [cited 2022 Aug 12]

8. Rosenblum A, Marsch LA, Joseph H, Portenoy RK. Opioids and the treatment of chronic pain: controversies, current status, and future directions. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2008 Oct;16(5):405-16. doi: 10.1037/a0013628. PMID: 18837637; PMCID: PMC2711509. [cited 2022 Aug 12]

9. Jeynes KD, Gibson EL. The importance of nutrition in aiding recovery from substance use disorders: A review. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 Oct 1;179:229-239. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.07.006. Epub 2017 Aug 4. PMID: 28806640. [cited 2022 Aug 12]

10. Regulatory Focus Three Years After Warnings, FDA Bans Last High Dose Acetaminophen Products [published 16 July 2014 [cited 2022 Aug 12]

11. FDA Safety Communication  Prescription Acetaminophen Products to be Limited to 325mg Per Dosage Unit; Boxed Warning Will Highlight Potential for Severe Liver Failure [published and reviewed 02/07/3018] [cited 2022 Aug 12]

12. Chen LH, Hedegaard H, Warner M. Drug-poisoning Deaths Involving Opioid Analgesics: United States, 1999-2011. NCHS Data Brief. 2014 Sep;(166):1-8. PMID: 25228059. [cited 2022 Aug 12]

13. Preuss CV, Kalava A, King KC. Prescription of Controlled Substances: Benefits and Risks. [Updated 2022 Jul 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2022 Aug 12]

Originally Published Sep 13, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.


Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.

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Medical Disclaimer:
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