Lortab is one prescription painkiller that is problematic, among many others. If someone uses Lortab, even with a prescription, they may become addicted or dependent. This could require a professional Lortab detox, as well as rehab.
What is Drug Dependence?
Sometimes people may use the terms dependence and addiction interchangeably, and this isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of the two concepts. Drug dependence means the brain and body of a person have become so used to the presence of Lortab that they are dependent on it to maintain a sense of “normalcy.”
Lortab is a combination drug that contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opioid, and that’s the element of the drug that can cause dependence and addiction. If someone has a drug dependence, they aren’t necessarily addicted although they very likely are.
Addiction is a chronic, diagnosable medical condition that affects the brain, the body, and behavior. Addiction is compulsive, out-of-control use of a drug, likely triggered by the brain’s reward response.
Even if someone isn’t addicted to Lortab and they’ve used it exactly as prescribed by their doctor, they may develop a dependence. Drug dependence is why doctors will often advise patients to gradually taper down their dose of opioids, rather than stopping cold turkey. This can mitigate or eliminate withdrawal symptoms.
What Causes Withdrawal?
If someone is dependent on an opioid-like Lortab and they stop using it suddenly or reduce their dosage, they may start to feel unwell. This is called withdrawal.
Withdrawal occurs when the body is dependent on a substance and no longer has it. The brain and body struggle to readjust to a sense of normal function without the presence of the substance.
It’s not just opioids that lead to dependence and withdrawal. For example, alcohol can also lead to withdrawal, and symptoms can be deadly if they’re not properly managed.
Lortab Withdrawal Symptoms
The specific symptoms of Lortab or hydrocodone withdrawal that a person experiences depend on certain factors. These include their individual body chemistry and genetics, the dose of hydrocodone they were using, and how long they’d been using opioids.
Possible Lortab withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Agitation and restlessness
- Muscle pain
Hydrocodone Withdrawal Timeline
If someone is dependent on hydrocodone, the length of their withdrawal symptoms can vary as well. For most people, the initial symptoms will appear within 24 hours after the last dose of Lortab or hydrocodone is used. These symptoms may include sleep disturbances, teary eyes, muscle aches and yawning. Anxiety and restlessness may also occur.
After the first 24 hours is when the more severe and uncomfortable Lortab withdrawal symptoms may start to appear. These can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure.
For most people, symptoms will start to improve within 72 hours. However, some people may have longer-lasting opioid withdrawal symptoms.
How Is Lortab Withdrawal Treated?
There are different treatment options available for Lortab withdrawal.
Some people might receive treatment on an outpatient basis if their dependence isn’t severe. A doctor might advise the use of over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, aspirin or NSAIDs. Imodium is an over-the-counter drug that can help with diarrhea, and a doctor may advise that a patient take a sleep aid.
However, most people are not recommended to go through hydrocodone withdrawal and detox on an outpatient basis. Symptoms can be severe, and it can be very difficult to successfully complete an opioid detox without more intensive supervision and treatment.
Medical Hydrocodone Detox
Another option, aside from outpatient withdrawal treatment, is staying in a medical detox.
A medical detox includes the following:
- Patients check into a facility, which can be a standalone detox center or more than likely is part of a rehab center.
- Once someone checks into a medical detox, an assessment is done which takes into consideration their Lortab use, whether or not any other substances are used, physical health concerns, and any mental health conditions.
- During medical detox, patients receive around-the-clock monitoring from professional medical staff. If any complications occur, these can be treated.
- Symptoms are treated on an as-needed basis with the use of both over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
- Once someone fully detoxes from Lortab and any other substances, they can begin addiction treatment.
- Complications that can occur with opioid withdrawal include dehydration, asphyxiation from vomiting, and relapse.
If someone relapses following a period of not using hydrocodone, it increases the likelihood they will overdose because their tolerance has likely decreased since they last used.
Different prescription medications might be used during the opioid detox and withdrawal process. Some of these medications are intended just to treat symptoms that occur, while others are forms of opioid replacement therapy.
Some medications used during Lortab detox can include:
- Methadone is a long-acting, relatively mild opioid that affects the central nervous system in a way similar to other opioids but without the euphoric high. People have to visit clinics to get methadone. Its use is controversial because people often use it for years, although it can prevent withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Buprenorphine is a shorter-acting and similarly mild opioid. Buprenorphine also affects opioid receptors, but it’s weaker than other opioids. It can be used to mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings also. It’s included in brand-name prescription drugs like Suboxone, Belbuca, and Butrans.
- Naltrexone is not an opioid replacement drug. It blocks opioid receptor sites, so if someone attempts to use opioids while on it, or they relapse, they won’t get high from the opioids. If someone hasn’t fully detoxed from opioids and they use naltrexone, they may experience sudden withdrawal symptoms.
- Clonidine is a medication used in many detox programs. It can help treat many of the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal a person may experience.