Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic. The pure form is not available in the United States, but it is used to make a variety of other drugs including Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Tussionex, Vicodin, Vicoprofen, Xodol, and Zydone.
- Combining any of these drugs with alcohol can be fatal
- Hydrocodone and its derivatives can also cause a number of dangerous drug interactions
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Hydrocodone is combined with other drugs to make a variety of medications that are pain relievers or cough suppressants. Hydrocodone can be combined with acetaminophen to make Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, Xodol and Zydone. All of these drugs are pain relievers. Vicorprofen is a pain medication made from a mixture of hydrocodone and ibuprofen. Tussionex is a cold treatment made from hydrocodone and chlorpheniramine. The hydrocodone gives it cough suppressant qualities, while the chlorpheniramine is an antihistamine. The two combined can treat the coughing, nasal congestion, and sneezing caused by a cold or flu.
One of the most common side effects associated with any opiate is constipation. Other side effects associated with hydrocodone and its derivatives can include the following:
- Dizziness and/or Drowsiness
- Mental fog
- Mood swings
- Allergic reactions
The various medications made with acetaminophen can cause liver damage or failure in patients who take more than the recommended dose. An overdose of hydrocodone can cause depression, cold or clammy skin, stupor, slowed or stopped breathing, cardiac arrest, coma, collapse of the circulatory system and death.
Norco contains the lowest amount of acetaminophen and highest amount of hydrocodone. In addition to the above side effects, it can cause tinnitus and headache. More serious side effects associated with Norco include convulsions, shallow breathing, odd behavior and thinking, fear, and stomach pain. An overdose of Norco can be fatal. In addition to the symptoms associated with a Hydrocodone overdose, it can also cause dark urine, blue lips, jaundice, small pupils, and sweating.
Tussionex is not for patients younger than six, and it can kill small children. Side effects associated with Tussionex can include dry mouth, blurred vision, sweating, and loss of appetite. More serious side effects can include shallow breathing, tightness in the chest, trouble urinating, hallucinations, confusion, and odd behavior. Signs of an allergic reaction can include trouble breathing, hives, and swelling of the throat, face, tongue, and/or lips.
Tolerance and Dependence
Hydrocodone is habit-forming and can cause both physical and psychological dependence in the user. Prolonged use of hydrocodone and its derivatives can cause tolerance as the drug accumulates within the user’s body. As that tolerance develops, the user starts taking more and more of the drug to get the same desired effects.
The user becomes dependent on the drug, and one sign of that dependence is a powerful craving for the hydrocodone.
Once a person is addicted, they become susceptible to withdrawal symptoms, and those can start just hours after the last dose. Withdrawal symptoms can include the following:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Pain in the muscles and bones
- Involuntary leg movements