Norco is an opioid analgesic narcotic drug containing both hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It acts on the central nervous system as an antitussive to suppress coughing, reduce fever and is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Norco can be both physically and psychologically addictive. The drug blocks receptors on the nerve cells in the brain that sense pain, while also elevating the threshold to pain. It has a serum half-life of 3.8 hours and is a Schedule II controlled substance, known for potentially dangerous side effects and addictive qualities. In the U.S., Hydrocodone was once the active antitussive in over 200 different cough formulas. Due to the reports of deaths in infants and children under 6 years of age, many of these formulas were recalled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Norco Use and Side Effects

Norco is a fine, white crystalline powder and is available as a tablet, capsule or elixir. To avoid a potentially fatal overdose the tablet should be taken whole and not chewed. It should never be crushed up and snorted or diluted into a liquid and injected, although these are common methods of administration by those addicted to the drug. The dosage of the drug should be left to the discretion of the physician. Norco should never be taken along with alcohol as this can produce dangerous side effects.

Norco also enhances the effects of central nervous system depressants such as antihistamines, tranquilizers, sedatives, barbiturates, anesthetics and other prescription drugs, and this combination can prove lethal.

Potential side effects from using Norco include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Vomiting blood
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Pains in the legs, back or stomach
  • Dark urine
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Swelling of the body, face, lips or tongue
  • Nosebleeds
  • General weakness
  • Tightening of the chest
  • Breathing problems

Adverse and overdose symptoms are possible with this medication. These include:

  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Odd behavior
  • Seizure
  • Confusion
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Not breathing
  • Severe sleepiness
  • Cessation of a heartbeat

Long-term use of Norco can also cause severe liver problems leading to liver transplant or death. The symptoms of liver damage due to this drug can include:

  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice
  • Pale stool
  • Weakness
  • Upper stomach pain

Another adverse reaction to taking Norco is anaphylaxis shock, which is life-threatening. The symptoms of this include:

  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the face, hands or mouth

Immediate medical help is required when someone experiences any of these adverse effects while using this drug.

Norco is a respiratory depressant that has the capacity to elevate cerebrospinal fluid pressure. Because of this fact, anyone suffering from a head injury, brain tumor or stroke should not take Norco. It is important to note that babies born to mothers who use Norco prior to delivery will be born physically dependent and may experience life-threatening addiction and withdrawal symptoms. For the safety of the child, Norco should not be used by pregnant, planning to become pregnant or nursing women.

Norco should also not be used by someone who is taking any of the following herbs: Valerian, St. John’s Wort, SAMe and Kava Kava. This drug should not be used by anyone who has a history of lung or liver disease; breathing problems such as sleep apnea, COPD and asthma; alcoholism and drug addiction; heart disease; seizures; inflammatory bowel disease; a colostomy or ileostomy; a thyroid disorder or Addison’s disease. In addition, the drug should not be given to people who are malnourished or severely ill. Because Norco can cause drowsiness and impair coordination, it is recommended that the user not drive or operate machinery while taking the drug.

Norco Abuse Statistics

As a narcotic medication, the misuse and abuse of Norco can result in addiction, overdose and death. In 2007, as reported by the International Narcotics Control Board, 99% of the worldwide supply of hydrocodone was consumed in the U.S. When a person becomes dependent on Norco, their body is unable to function normally without the drug. They need the drug to reduce the pain and swelling in their body.

Norco can cause both physical and psychological dependence, leading to abuse of the drug. Psychologically, the user may experience panic attacks when the drug is not given at the time they think they need it. Once a user has built up a tolerance to the drug, they think they will need more of it for the drug to be effective. By taking more of this drug, the user is putting him or herself at risk of experiencing severe side effects. Too much use of the drug causes the depression of the central nervous system and can lead to death.

Abuse symptoms of Norco can also include:

  • Hearing impairment
  • Euphoria
  • Lethargy
  • Numbness
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Dysphoria
  • Depression
  • Mood changes

Withdrawal of the drug is possible, but should be administered under the care of a physician or drug treatment facility. Withdrawal symptoms start to occur when the opiate receptors in the brain are no longer receiving regular amounts of the drug. These symptoms can have an adverse impact on the patient depending on the dosage and how often the drug was taken. The most common withdrawal or detox symptoms of Norco include:

  • Severe pain
  • Sweats
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Involuntary leg movements
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Pins and needle feeling throughout the entire body

These detox symptoms can last up to six weeks and may be followed by a period of depression, insomnia and general weakness. The patient should be slowly weaned off the drug and the physician can prescribe non-addictive medications to counter the effects of withdrawal.