About 9% of the population is believed to misuse opiates over the course of their lifetime, including illegal drugs like heroin and prescribed pain medications such as Lortabs.
These drugs can cause physical dependence. This means that a person relies on the drug to prevent symptoms of withdrawal. Over time, greater amounts of the drug become necessary to produce the same effect.
The time it takes to become physically dependent varies with each individual.
When the drugs are stopped, the body needs time to recover, and withdrawal symptoms result. Withdrawal from opiates can occur whenever any chronic use is discontinued or reduced.
Some people even withdraw from opiates after being given such drugs for pain while in the hospital without realizing what is happening to them. They think they have the flu, and because they don’t know that opiates would fix the problem, they don’t crave the drugs.
Early symptoms of withdrawal include:
Late symptoms of withdrawal include:
Lortab withdrawal reactions are very uncomfortable but are not life threatening. Symptoms usually start within 8 to 12 hours. Complications include vomiting and breathing in stomach contents into the lungs. This is called aspiration, and can cause lung infection. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and body chemical and mineral (electrolyte) disturbances.
The biggest complication is return to drug use. Most opiate overdose deaths occur in people who have just withdrawn or detoxed. Because withdrawal reduces your tolerance to the drug, those who have just gone through withdrawal can overdose on a much smaller dose than they used to take.
Lortab Addiction Information
Lortab is commonly prescribed because of its analgesic, or pain relieving properties. Lortab is the brand name for the combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Many studies have shown that properly managed medical use of Lortab is safe and rarely causes addiction. Taken exactly as prescribed, Lortab can be used to manage pain effectively.
Lortab acts by attaching to specific proteins called opioids receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. When these compounds attach to certain opioids receptors in the brain and spinal cord, they can effectively change the way a person experiences pain. In addition, opioids medications can affect regions of the brain that mediate what we perceive as pleasure, resulting in the initial euphoria that many opioids produce. They can also produce drowsiness, cause constipation, and, depending upon the amount taken, depress breathing. Taking a large single dose could cause severe respiratory depression or death.
Chronic use of Lortab can result in tolerance to the medication so that higher doses must be taken to obtain the same effects. Long-term use also can lead to physical dependence—the body adapts to the presence of the substance and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced abruptly. Individuals taking prescribed lortab should not only be given these medications under appropriate medical supervision, but also should be medically supervised when stopping use in order to reduce or avoid withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), and involuntary leg movements.
Individuals who become addicted to lortab can be treated. Options for effectively treating pain killer addiction to prescription opioids are drawn from research on treating heroin addiction.
Prolonged use of these drugs eventually changes the brain in fundamental and long-lasting ways, explaining why people cannot just quit on their own, and why treatment is essential. In effect, drugs of abuse take over the brain’s normal pleasure and motivational systems, moving drug use to the highest priority in the individual’s motivational hierarchy, thereby overriding all other motivations and drives. These brain changes, then, are responsible for the compulsion to seek and use drugs that we have come to define as addiction. This is likely the state people are in when they are reportedly “doctor shopping,” feigning illnesses, and stealing from pharmacies to obtain the drug.
Fortunately, we have a number of effective options to treat lortab addiction to prescription opioids and to help manage the sometime severe withdrawal syndrome that accompanies sudden cessation of drug use.
Typically, the patient is medically detoxified before any treatment approach is begun. Although detoxification in itself is not a treatment for pain killer addiction, it can help relieve withdrawal symptoms while the patient adjusts to being drug free. Once the patient completes detoxification, the treatment provider must then work with the patient to determine which course of treatment would best suit the needs of the patient.