What is Lortab?
Lortab (hydrocodone plus acetaminophen) is one of a host of combined opioid analgesic medications that came under FDA and DEA scrutiny in 2011.
Quite apart from the addictive nature of Lortab, there was an additional concern because the high content of acetaminophen is linked to liver damage, renal impairment, and even liver failure. In 2014, hydrocodone products were the most prescribed drugs in America.
In a statement from the FDA’s Office of New Drugs, Sandra Kweder said:
“Overdose from prescription combination products containing acetaminophen account for nearly half of all cases of acetaminophen-related liver failure in the United States; many of which result in liver transplant or death.” 1
All of these hydrocodone compound medications were required to be reformulated by 2014, to contain a maximum of 325 mg acetaminophen per tablet. All products containing more than 325 mg acetaminophen were either discontinued or banned and pulled from the market by July of 2014.2,3
As mentioned, there is another problem with hydrocodone combined products, also called HCPs such as Lortab, Vicodin, Norco, and others, because they are very addictive. Lortab and similar products are also very expensive compared to heroin, and their effects are similar. The DEA found an enormous rise in heroin addiction from 2011 and on, and attributed the phenomena to the number of addicted users of these legal opioid drugs turning to heroin as a cheaper alternative. Heroin use doubled from 2011 to 2014.4
More information is provided below on other important topics that may assist you in making informed decisions regarding starting or stopping opioid medications or HCPs such as Lortab.
What Is Lortab Used for?
Lortab is a pain reliever, for the relief of moderate to moderately severe pain. In liquid formulations, it has also been used in cough suppressant products. Under new FDA regulations, Lortab should only be prescribed for a maximum of 4 weeks before a refill prescription is preceded by another in-person visit to the doctor, not giving a refill over the phone.4,5
Lortab Alternative Names and Slang
Lortab is sometimes referred to as “hydro” or “tabs.” All hydrocodone drugs have developed a presence as a diverted product for street sale or via internet purchases on the illicit market. There has also been a concern about the risk to young people using products such as Lortab or Vicodin recreationally, possibly retrieving them from the family medicine chest. Because the drug has similar euphoric effects as heroin, it is sometimes sold as an alternative to heroin.
Lortab Side Effects
Lortab has a similar set of side effects to heroin, with the additional risk for liver impairment.
Other common side effects can include:
- Lowered respiration and heartbeat
- Stomach pain
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue, drowsiness, nodding off
- Back pain
- Stiff or tightened muscles
- Difficult or painful urination, frequent urination
- Swollen legs, ankles, feet
- Shaking, tremors
- Pain in chest
- Sexual dysfunction, loss of interest, loss of libido
- Swollen eyes, lips, tongue, throat, face
- Menstruation irregularities
- Trouble swallowing, hoarseness in the throat
- Vomiting, nausea
- Irritability, agitation, mood swings
- Confusion, cognitive impairment
- Loss of coordination, weakness
Lortab Withdrawal Symptoms
Stopping Lortab, as is the case with virtually all prescription medications, is safest when done using a gradual tapering approach, not “cold turkey” or abruptly. Lortab withdrawal symptoms generally start within a few hours of the last dose and are similar to other opioid withdrawals.
Lortab withdrawals can include:
- Drug cravings
- Profuse sweating
- Shaking, uncontrollable tremors, restless legs
- Trouble sleeping, disturbed or interrupted sleep
- Pain in muscles and bones
- Vomiting, severe, can lead to dehydration
- General malaise
Hydrocodone is an opiate that tends to deplete or shut down the body’s own manufacture of natural endorphins. In part, this is one of the reasons why Lortab withdrawals are difficult to endure. Pain relief is absent until the body restores its supply of natural endorphin chemicals.
The body can be significantly assisted by providing the exact precursors and nutrients that can accelerate the process of regenerating these natural pain-relieving chemicals. Also providing a short course of bridge medications may ease the withdrawal process, so it becomes more tolerable.
It is the pain and intense discomfort of Lortab withdrawal that often leads to relapse and failure. A strategy can be planned and executed which can greatly ease these roadblocks to success. More information is given below on this topic in the section called “Treatment for Lortab Abuse and Addiction.”