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

Last Updated on August 15, 2022 by Diane Ridaeus

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

The mechanics of Norco addiction and Norco withdrawal symptoms are similar to other opioids including heroin. The narcotic ingredient in Norco is hydrocodone, derived from codeine, which is sourced from opium. The other ingredient in Norco is acetaminophen (Tylenol®). Both of these elements should be used with caution as each carries a number of potential risks.
Norco tablets are taken orally, several times a day. Tolerance to Norco happens quickly, leading to using more than was prescribed or more often than was prescribed to reduce pain. Tolerance develops when the person feels the drug isn’t working anymore, or as well as it once did. So a person may begin dosing more frequently and in larger amounts for relief. Regular use of acetaminophen carries its own additional health risks, described in more detail below. 

Norco Addiction — High Risk

norco high addiction riskNorco (hydrocodone) carries a high risk of addiction. As a response to FDA and DEA concerns, in 2013 drugmakers altered the labeling and physicians’ prescribing recommendations for all hydrocodone/acetaminophen drugs, as addiction rates soared from the late 90s forward.2,4,6

The FDA in 2014 also banned any product containing more than 325mg of acetaminophen due to the high number of liver failures associated with this class of drugs. Even when Norco is taken as prescribed, Norco can produce health and safety concerns. Physicians have been directed to only prescribe a 4-week supply at a time, requiring a patient visit before extending the prescription. Before starting or stopping a prescription of Norco, it may be difficult to get as completely informed as possible to minimize potential risks to your health and safety. But we highly recommend that you make the attempt to do so, and you can contact us directly for more help if desired.

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Norco Alternative Names and Slang

Hydro is a common street name for drugs such as Norco®, Percocet®, and others. The brand names in street vernacular are interchangeable, largely due to their similar ingredients. Sometimes Percocet pills are called Norco, or “tabs,” sometimes Lortab ® and Norco tablets are called “Percs,” and vice versa as these drugs are perceived as virtually identical, though they may differ slightly in composition.

Norco Serious Side Effects

Norco has a number of serious, though relatively rare side effects. Due to potential liver damage, one should inform their prescribing physician if any signs of liver impairment are occurring, such as darkened urine, painful or frequent urination, difficulty urinating, back pain, light-colored, clay-like stools, or yellowing of the eyes or skin. Reproductive impacts are now under careful research for adults of reproductive age taking Norco due to the high acetaminophen in each dose.10

If a high fever and rash occur, this can mean an anaphylactic or allergic reaction has occurred and requires immediate medical attention.

Other rare but severe side effects include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, hands, feet, or legs, seizures, hives, skin eruptions, skin peeling, loss of consciousness, and rigidity of the muscles. Seek medical intervention for these as they are potentially life-threatening.

Norco Common Side Effects:
  • norco side effectsSlowed heartbeat, breathing
  • Euphoria, calm and relaxed feelings
  • Syncope (feeling faint, fainting)
  • Confusion, impaired cognitive ability
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Bruising easily or unusual bleeding
  • Loss of libido, sexual dysfunction
  • Menstruation changes or irregularities
  • Loss of appetite, upset stomach
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness, weakness
  • Constipation, clay-like stools
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Mood swings, anxiety
  • Hearing loss, tinnitus
  • Chest pain

Norco Withdrawal Symptoms

Norco withdrawal symptoms can emerge within 12 – 36 hours of the last dose after chronic use.

Norco withdrawal symptoms can include:
  • Profuse sweating
  • Fever
  • Chills, “gooseflesh”
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Bone and muscle pain*
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anxiety, depression, mood swings
  • Tachycardia
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Yawning
  • Insomnia

*Withdrawal symptoms from quitting Norco are similar to other opioid analgesics and heroin withdrawal.7

FDA and DEA Concerns About Norco

By 2018, the FDA and DEA mandated that all hydrocodone/acetaminophen products were pared back to a maximum of 325mg of the analgesic ingredient per dose, with other cautions for safety reasons. All previous versions of Norco containing more than 325mg acetaminophen have been discontinued, though there is a chance that generic versions may still exist.1

Taking acetaminophen in high doses or for a long period of time can result in liver impairment, kidney failure, and death. Other risks include the severe reactions we outlined in the section on “side effects.” For these reasons, the FDA and DEA made certain changes to the way Norco is manufactured, labeled, and prescribed. Hydrocodone remains a drug with a high risk of addiction, overdose, and death.4,5

Norco Addiction and Chronic Pain

norco hydrocodone treatment sedona arizona

Stopping a pain medication such as Norco, Percocet, or any other requires a comprehensive approach that will allow the body to rebuild its endorphin system. The body uses natural endorphins to combat pain. Yet, opioid use impairs the body’s ability to function in this regard. These factors can be resolved with intelligent, comprehensive programming.

Addiction is often preceded by very real pain issues. Willpower alone is not always enough for a successful recovery. A more pragmatic approach to Norco addiction treatment combines therapies that safely withdraw the person from the drugs, and work toward resolving or at least mitigating the chronic pain or other root causes. What made opioids necessary in the first place? Those are the issues to address. Ignoring those underlying issues will not help. Sobriety is much more than trying to use willpower alone to delay relapse. This is especially pertinent where there may be chronic pain and other debilitating issues.

Using targeted nutritional and other therapies, we can assist the body with neurotransmitter rehabilitation that can help reduce pain, naturally. Where quitting an opiate drug is extremely painful and the level of discomfort becomes intolerable, a short course of bridge medications can help ease the person through this difficult phase of withdrawal.

Norco FAQs

What Is Norco Used for?

Norco is a medication prescribed as short-term relief of moderate to moderately severe pain. It is combined with a non-opioid analgesic called acetaminophen (paracetamol), more commonly known as Tylenol®. Acetaminophen is linked with liver damage when taken in large doses for an extended period of time. Norco has been limited to a maximum of 325mg of acetaminophen per dose.8

Is Norco An Opioid?

Yes. Norco contains an opioid drug, hydrocodone, and for this reason, has been re-classified as a Schedule II drug. Norco is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, also called a CHP. Norco is classed as a narcotic analgesic medication. Hydrocodone has always been a Schedule II drug because it is a narcotic substance (opioid).2

What is the Half-Life of Norco?

There are 2 medications in Norco. Acetaminophen 325mg has a plasma half-life of 1.2 – 3 hours, which may be lengthened if liver damage exists. Hydrocodone 10mg has a half-life of 3.8 hours.

Is Norco Harmful Taken During Pregnancy?

Babies born to mothers taking Norco regularly will be born physically dependent and will experience withdrawal symptoms at birth, including excessive crying and irritability, tremors, abnormal respiratory rate, diarrhea, sneezing, fever, yawning, and vomiting. There is also increasing concern from researchers who are suggesting that taking acetaminophen during pregnancy for a headache, could have future impacts on reproductive health. Based on this research, taking a regular dose of 325mg several times a day continuously in Norco may considerably increase such impacts.10 

What Are the Signs of Norco Overdose?

  • Lips and nails turn blue*
  • Blood in urine
  • Cloudiness in urine
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Loss of consciousness, difficult to awaken
  • Respiration or heartbeat slowed dangerously low
  • Does not respond, comatose
  • Profuse sweating
  • Severe chest pain
  • Loss of blood pressure or pulse

*According to information in the US Library of Medicine, do not induce vomiting to help a Norco overdose unless you are asked to do so by EMT. Call 911 and administer Naloxone or Narcan as soon as possible.

If you have other questions or concerns about Norco or other similar prescription drugs you should ask your doctor. However, you can also reach out to us and we will get you any additional information you are looking for. More information can be found below, along with a description of our addiction program for stopping Norco and recovering health through holistic treatments.

Neurotoxin Removal and Recovery from Opioid Addiction

There have been numerous studies to investigate heavy metals and other toxic accumulations in the human body, and the consequences of such accumulations. Pain has been shown as linked to toxic accumulations in the body, as has insomnia, anxiety, depression, and many other conditions.3

holistic norco addiction treatmentAt Alternative to Meds Center, as part of our addiction recovery programs, the use of lab tests demonstrates whether there is a presence of such toxic elements; and, if so, these are gently purged from the body. Typically, clients benefit from the cleanse with deeper, sounder sleep, and a reduction in a wide variety of symptoms which may include pain.

This is of interest to those persons who are seeking non-drug methods to reduce symptoms that may have led to prescription drugs in the first place.

Overall, the program takes a wide-angle view on reducing symptoms wherever possible, as well as a measured, pragmatic approach to opioid withdrawal.

To summarize, let us emphasize in opioid recovery, the body has a great ability to rebuild the endorphins after opioid drug damage. Specifically targeted nutritional therapy and supplementation accelerate the body’s own ability to repair itself. Such assistance makes recovery much more tolerable and sustainable in the long run, as these initial symptoms may be eased greatly by such therapies.9

Treatment at Alternative to Meds for Norco Addiction

Our Norco withdrawal and recovery program at Alternative to Meds Center proves that sobriety actually feels good.

Holistic detox and a thorough treatment program can provide the help that you or your loved one has been seeking for too long. At the center, our aim is to help you find relief from the original symptoms that may have led to the overuse of painkillers. Holistic pain management is fundamental to the success of our clients.

Please contact us at Alternative to Meds Center for more information about Norco withdrawal and addiction recovery treatment that is truly health-based.

1. FDA Drug Label Norco® (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen) [Internet] 2014 Aug [cited 2022 Aug 15]

2. Sullivan T “DEA Places Heavy Restrictions on Vicodin and Other Hydrocodone Combination Drugs; Gives Stakeholders 45 Days to Adjust” Policy and Medication Publication, 2018 May 6 [cited 2022 Aug 15]

3. Di Paolo C MD DDS, Serritella E DDS, Panti F MD, Falisi G DDS PhD, Manna F SSD “Heavy Metals and Pain in the Dysfunctional Patient” study published by NIMH, 2014 Jun 18 [cited 2022 Aug 15]

4. “Prescription Opioids Drugfacts.” Information Letter NIDA [Internet] 2020 May[cited 2022 Aug 15]

5. CDC Report, “Opoid Data Analysis and Resources- Opioid Overdoses.” 2020 [cited 2022 Aug 15]

6. Habibi M, Kim PY. Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen. [Updated 2022 May 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2022 Aug 15]

7. Shah M, Huecker MR. Opioid Withdrawal. [Updated 2022 May 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2022 Aug 15]

8. Cofano S, Yellon R. Hydrocodone. [Updated 2021 Nov 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2022 Aug 15]

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 15]

10.  Arendrup FS, Mazaud-Guittot S, Jégou B, Kristensen DM. EDC IMPACT: Is exposure during pregnancy to acetaminophen/paracetamol disrupting female reproductive development? Endocr Connect. 2018 Jan;7(1):149-158. doi: 10.1530/EC-17-0298. Epub 2018 Jan 5. PMID: 29305399; PMCID: PMC5776669. [cited 2022 Aug 15]

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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Norco Addiction, Withdrawal | Hydrocodone Side Effects, Alternatives, Tapering
Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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