No one enjoys suffering from pain of any kind. So when a doctor prescribes a pain reliever, such as Norco (hydrocodone) following a serious injury or a surgical procedure, it is usually welcomed with open arms. Although the majority of patients might be able to take the opioid medication for a week or so with no trouble discontinuing use when pain symptoms subside, others may already be addicted to the drug. Norco addiction sneaks up silently, with little or no warning that a problem is developing at first.
The first sign that there is an issue comes when the prescription runs out and you experience signs of withdrawal. These physical and psychological symptoms indicate that the brain has already altered its neurotransmitters in anticipation of ongoing Norco dosing. When the drug is suddenly discontinued, individuals who have developed a dependency to the drug will feel sick.
What happens next is what can be the blueprint for a serious drug addiction to develop. If the individual just toughs out a day or two of feeling punk, similar to the flu, following a few weeks of Norco use, they will likely be just fine. Their body will readjust to normalcy soon and all is good. However, many people experience those withdrawal symptoms and immediately request a refill of the drug. Some doctors will accommodate the request, thus deepening the dependency, while others will offer them alternative pain relieving measures.
Again, patients who accept the advice of the doctor and access alternatives to opioids will usually have little problem pushing through a week or so of feeling lousy. Others will be bound and determined to locate the drugs elsewhere.
Signs of Norco Addiction
When these individuals are refused additional prescriptions by their doctor, they may seek other means of finding the drugs. These include:
- Doctor shopping for a physician or pain clinic that will prescribe more Norcos
- Stealing the drugs from friends or relatives medicine cabinets
- Using counterfeit prescription pads to create a prescription for the drug
- Purchasing Norcos off the Internet
- Purchasing Norcos from drug dealers on the street
In addition to the drug-seeking behaviors that indicate addiction, those who have developed an addiction or dependency may also exhibit these signs:
- Constricted pupils
- Mental confusion
- Extreme mood swings
- Nodding off or losing consciousness
- Slowed breathing
- Isolating from friends and family
- Becoming obsessed with obtaining the drug and taking the drug
- Declining work or school performance
- Mounting financial problems
- Problems with relationships
- Attempting to quit the Norco but unable to
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when drug not available
Getting Help For a Norco Addiction
When the signs of addiction are recognized, there are recovery options for individuals seeking treatment. The first step in recovery will be detoxification, the period in which the body adjusts to not having the drug any longer. Detox will include three stages of withdrawal, with symptoms peaking on days 2 or 3, before beginning to subside.
The stages of withdrawal from Norco begin with symptoms emerging about 6-12 hours after the last dose. Early mild flu-like symptoms evolve into more intensified and highly unpleasant symptoms about halfway through the detox process, and then gradually begin to subside.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting
- Excessive yawning
- Muscles and bone pain
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
- Irregular heartbeat
- Problems with concentration
- Elevated blood pressure
- Drug cravings
- Mood swings
- Anxiety symptoms
- Depression, malaise
- Thoughts of suicide
Although these symptoms are difficult to endure, the detox specialists overseeing the process will be constantly monitoring the progression through the stages of withdrawal from Norco, and will provide medications to help minimize pain and discomfort.
What is Medically-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
Increasingly, medically assisted treatment (MAT) is being successfully utilized in helping individuals in treatment for opioid addiction or dependence achieve long-term recovery. The drugs used in MAT are used as temporary substitutes for the Norco, allowing the individual to incrementally build up a resistance to the effects of opioids, and reducing drug cravings. By reducing cravings, the risk of relapse is also reduced.
The medications include:
- Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine (brand name Subtex) is a partial opioid agonist that attaches imperfectly to the brain’s opioid receptors. This blocks some of the drugs usual effects, such as euphoria. Over time, drug cravings are reduced. Buprenorphine comes in a sublingual tablet form and should not be initiated until the individual has been off the Norco for at least two days.
- Suboxone. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. The buprenorphine attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors, diminishing the effects of opioids. Naloxone causes withdrawal symptoms if the person relapses, acting as a deterrent to recurrent drug use. Suboxone comes in a sublingual film and tablet.
- Naltrexone. Naltrexone (brand names Rean opioid antagonist that also works in the brain to prevent the effects of opioids. This medication also helps reduce withdrawal symptoms during the later phase of detox. Naltrexone is non-narcotic and is available in tablet form, an injectable, a patch, or an implant.
- Methadone. Methadone is a tightly monitored synthetic opioid that blocks the euphoric feelings of the hydrocodone. Methadone is often used in long-term MAT and requires the individual visit a clinic daily.
Not everyone is a candidate for MAT, but those who are will often benefit from this important recovery tool. Although MAT is often used during the initial months to year following rehab, some individuals will benefit from long-term MAT. Each of these medications has side effects, and all but the naltrexone can be subject to abuse.
Moving Forward in Recovery
Once the stages of withdrawal from Norco are completed, it is time for the individual to enter the treatment phase of recovery. Treating hydrocodone addiction is the same as treating other opioid addictions, as the drugs have similar effects on the brain. A comprehensive program will include individual therapy sessions, group therapy, medication-assisted treatment, relapse prevention planning, addiction education, family focused therapy, and activities that compliment the traditional evidence-based therapies.
Comprehensive Treatment for Norco Addiction Recovery
Hydrocodone recovery is made possible through rehab programs that integrate various forms of treatment elements designed to work together. These therapeutic activities include:
Individual psychotherapy: As the centerpiece of the addiction recovery treatment protocol, psychotherapy helps individuals make fundamental changes in their thought patterns and their behavioral response to them. This is accomplished using a number of evidence-based therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and contingency management, (CM), to name a few.
Group counseling sessions: During small group sessions, participants are encouraged to share their personal experiences and feelings as the therapist guides the topics of discussion. This provides social support in a safe, non-judgmental setting and allows participants to bond. 12-step programming is also integrated into group sessions.
Family-focused therapy: Many rehabs include a family element that involves inviting the client’s family members to join in family-focused therapy and activities. These allow the family members to begin to heal, while also helping them learn effective communication skills and conflict resolution strategies.
Medication management: Medication assisted therapy (MAT) may be utilized in some client’s treatment plans. Also, individuals with a co-occurring mental health condition may be started on antidepressant drug therapy.
Education: Addiction education teaches clients the neurobiology of addiction, showing them how the brain structures are impacted by the hydrocodone, resulting in addiction.
Relapse prevention planning is included in these classes, guiding client’s to identify their triggers for drug use and to make actionable plans to avoid relapse.
Holistic activities: Learning stress-reduction methods is an essential component in rehab programs today. Stress is the number one trigger to relapse, so providing client’s with the relaxation skills can help them manage stressors.
Recreation and nutritional counseling: Recreational activities provide a break from programming while providing a means to get exercise. Clients are advised on how sound nutrition can help restore brain health and general wellness in recovery.
Ken Seeley Communities Provides Treatment for Norco Addiction
Ken Seeley Communities and Rehab is a full service addiction recovery program in Palm Springs, California. Covering all aspects of treatment for hydrocodone addiction, Ken Seeley offers a medically supervised detox program that will help manage the various stages of withdrawal for Norco prior to initiating treatment. We follow up with options for treatment, including intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programming, and residential rehab. For individuals selecting an outpatient option, sober living housing is also available at Ken Seeley Communities. For more details about our program, please reach out to Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.