NORCO is a prescription medication that contains acetaminophen and hydrocodone. The former is a pain reliever like Tylenol and increases the effects of the latter. Hydrocodone is a narcotic or opioid that affects the central nervous system by blocking pain messages sent from the brain and spinal cord. It is a Schedule III controlled substance, meaning there is a high risk for abuse and addiction by those who use it.
Dependence on this drug can occur even if it is taken as prescribed. A person will go through withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking this medication cold turkey. He or she is unable to function properly when deprived of this prescription; therefore, they feel a psychological need to take it. Their body builds up a tolerance to the drug causing the user to increase the dosage without a doctor’s permission. However, the body may not be able to deal with the increase and respond with depression, heavy perspiration, weak muscles and mood swings. Other side effects of abuse include upper stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, dark urine, gray stools, yellow skin and eyes, itchy yet clammy skin and restlessness and decreased heart rate.
NORCO Signs and Symptoms
Other signs of abuse include taking NORCO for fun to feel more euphoric results. Some enhance its effects by mixing it with other drugs and alcohol, crushing the pill form and snorting it, or mixing the crushed pill with water and injecting it into their veins. Overuse of this medication can cause liver damage, coma, shallow or stopped breathing and death.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, up to 22 percent of vehicle accidents are due to drivers using painkillers like NORCO. At least half of violent crimes, such as homicide and assault, are caused by painkillers. In 1999, 14 million Americans used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons, and NORCO was the most common. In that same year, 38 percent, or more than eight thousand people, overdosed from painkillers. In 2008 that percentage increased to 45 percent or 15,000 people. This figure was more than overdoses from heron and cocaine together, which was 39 percent.
The Center for Disease Control reports that in the period from 1999 to 2010, approximately 48,000 women overdosed from painkillers. That is an increase of 400 percent for that time period, whereas the overdose rate for men increased by 265 percent. Since 2007, more women have died from drug overdoses than car accidents. Ten percent of females also used prescription pain killers like NORCO to commit suicide. In 2010, 60 percent of deaths were caused by overdosing on painkillers.
Anyone who is abusing and addicted to NORCO should seek medical assistance as soon as possible before it is too late. Users must be weaned off the drug gradually to minimize withdrawal symptoms, or they may need other drugs to counteract the effects while going through the withdrawal period. Rehab or detox centers have the staff and medical knowledge to monitor patients and help them through this difficult time. Therapy is also needed to overcome the psychological dependence.