Norco Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment

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Norco is a prescription medication that contains a combination of hydrocodone, a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller, and acetaminophen. It is prescribed for moderate to severe pain, and it can be effective when used appropriately.

However, it has a high risk for addiction and dependence, and many users may perceive the drug as safe since it is prescribed to them by a doctor.

Is Norco Addictive?

Yes, Norco can be addictive.
While Norco can relieve pain when taken as directed, it has a number of side effects, including a rush or feeling of euphoria in many users. This feeling may cause users to use the drug longer than prescribed, take more than the recommended dose, or use Norco is non-prescribed ways, such as crushing and snorting the pills or mixing them with water and injecting them to achieve a faster, more intense “high.”

Over time, users develop a tolerance to the drug and require more and more of the drug to get the same effects as before. Their bodies become accustomed to having the drug in their system and may rely on it in order to function properly. If someone has been using the drug regularly over an extended period of time, they may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using. These can be quite uncomfortable and may compel the user to continue to take the drug to avoid them.

People with a history of substance abuse, who mix Norco with other drugs such as alcohol, and who take it in non-prescribed ways may be at higher risk of addiction.

How to Tell If You or a Loved One Is Addicted to Norco

Woman feeling nauseous from Norco withdrawal
Drug treatment professionals use the following criteria to determine whether someone is addicted to prescription opioids such as Norco. If you or your loved one has displayed at least 2 of the following signs or symptoms over the past 12 months, consider seeking professional help at a recovery program: 5

  • Needing to take increased amounts of Norco to achieve intoxication or experiencing less of an effect when taking the same amount of the drug as before (tolerance).
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (such as aches, nausea, insomnia, and sweating) or taking Norco to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
  • Continuing to use Norco even though it is causing physical or psychological problems.
  • Frequently using Norco in situations where it is physically hazardous, such as driving a car or operating machinery.
  • Giving up or reducing social, occupational, or recreational activities in favor of Norco use.
  • Continuing to use Norco even though it is causing or exacerbating social or interpersonal problems.
  • Using Norco to the point that it interferes with responsibilities at work, school, or home.
  • Experiencing cravings or strong urges to use Norco.
  • Spending a large portion of your time obtaining Norco, using it, and recovering from its effects.
  • Being unable to control or cut down on Norco use.
  • Taking Norco in large amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.

Other Things to Look for

People who are addicted to Norco may also:

  • Seek the drug out, often using multiple doctors to obtain more than one prescription.
  • Claim to be suffering from great physical pain and go to the doctor or emergency room seeking stronger doses of Norco or other opioids when they cannot obtain a prescription.
  • Steal Norco or forge prescriptions to obtain it.
  • Exhibit changes in mood and personality.

One great concern with Norco is the potential for accidental overdose. Quitting Norco eliminates this risk and results in a better quality of life for the individual and his or her family.

Paying for Treatment

Cost of a program will depend on amenities, location, and type of program.

Treatment costs for Norco addiction vary widely.

In general, the cost of a program will depend on:

  • Amenities. Luxury rehab centers, which can offer many unique amenities, such as chefs, massages, and private rooms, may more closely resemble high-end resorts than one might imagine a treatment center would. However, the price of such programs is high. Other options that are more affordable for most people usually feature cafeteria-style food and shared rooms.
  • Location.Programs in desirable locations, such as near the beach, will be more expensive. Programs in urban areas also tend to be more expensive than programs in rural areas.
  • Length of stay. Programs usually charge on a per diem basis. So the more days you stay, the more you will have to pay.
  • Type of program. Inpatient programs will usually be more expensive than outpatient.

Using Health Insurance to Cover Rehab Costs

Insurance will cover all or part of the cost for many rehab programs for Norco addiction. If you would like information on treatment options based on your insurance, call one of our treatment support representatives at 1-888-319-2606 Helpline Information .

If you don’t have insurance, you can finance a stay in rehab by:

  • Working out a payment plan with the treatment center.
  • Putting the cost on a credit card.
  • Borrowing money from a 401(k), savings account, or friends and family.
  • Taking out a loan with a favorable interest rate.
  • Using crowdfunding, such as GoFundMe, to help raise money for treatment.

Low- or no-cost programs are also available for Norco addiction treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) operates a hotline with referrals to these types of programs. SAMHSA’s toll-free helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Getting Treatment and Starting Recovery

There are many options for treatment for Norco addiction. The right one for you or your loved one will depend on your particular situation.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a program:

  • Severity of addiction. Persons who have severe addictions to Norco, who have been using large amounts of Norco for long periods of time, or who are also addicted to other drugs should strongly consider inpatient rehab.
  • Other medical or mental health disorders. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that drug addiction and mental illnesses frequently co-occur. 4 People with underlying medical or psychological issues, such as depression or anxiety, may need dual diagnosis treatment to effectively treat both conditions and prevent a relapse.
  • Cost. Find out how much the program costs and how much you can pay either through insurance, financing, or both.
  • Treatment philosophy. If a person feels uncomfortable with a spiritual focus or 12-step work, then a program that incorporates the 12 steps or a faith-based approach may not be the best fit.
  • Accreditation. Three major bodies accredit treatment centers in the United States: the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), the Joint Commission (TJC), and the Council on Accreditation (COA). A program that is accredited through one of these organizations ensures that a certain level of quality is being met.

Types of Norco Recovery Programs

  • Inpatient treatment offers a high level of supervision and emotional support for people recovering from Norco addiction. Many of these programs offer medically supervised detox that can make the withdrawal process more comfortable. They also offer behavioral therapy to address the root causes of addiction and develop relapse prevention skills, group therapy to share experiences and learn from others in recovery, and aftercare planning for when you or your loved one is discharged. Most programs last 28 to 30 days, but programs lasting 60 days or 90 days are also available.
  • Outpatient programs generally offer the same group and individual therapy as inpatient. However, people who are in outpatient treatment are able to go home at night, and many times also maintain their job and family responsibilities. The ability to be treated on an outpatient basis for Norco addiction is highly individualized and may not be right for everyone. A substance abuse professional will have to evaluate and assess the best program type for an individual’s needs.
  • 12-step programs are free and available in almost every community. The traditional 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), require only a desire to remain drug- or alcohol-free to join. There is an emphasis on being powerless over an addiction and surrendering one’s will to a higher power. People in these groups work through steps as they seek to gain understanding of their addiction and ways to avoid relapse. These programs also encourage newcomers to find a sponsor, or someone who has been in recovery for a period of time. A newcomer can call this person in a crisis to avoid relapse.
  • Teen recovery programs focus on the unique needs of teenagers, such as the need to involve family in the recovery and treatment process. Teens may also need a holistic approach to treatment that examines their school functioning and peer group influences. Teens can also benefit greatly from early intervention – they do not have to be fully addicted to get something out of treatment. Early intervention can help to avoid full-blown addiction later in life. 3
  • Dual diagnosis programs provide both substance abuse treatment as well as psychiatric treatment for other mental health issues, which can include depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and anxiety. Upon admission, a treatment professional will assess a person for any co-occurring mental health disorders and develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses both conditions simultaneously.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medical providers in recovery programs can offer different types of medications to help:

  • Make the withdrawal process more comfortable.
  • Reduce cravings.
  • Help a person who is addicted to Norco stabilize and participate in treatment.

Commonly prescribed medications for Norco addiction and withdrawal include the following. These medications are most effective when combined with behavioral therapy.

  • Buprenorphine: This medication (also available as part of a combination formulation known as (Suboxone) produces similar but less intense effects than Norco. It can be used to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. However, as a partial opioid agonist drug, it is mildly addictive itself.
  • Methadone: Methadone is a long-acting opioid that can also help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. But it is also potentially addictive. People recovering from Norco addiction should be carefully monitored while using methadone.
  • Naltrexone: This medication blocks the effects of Norco and other opioids. It does not produce any kind of “high.”

Other medications, including clonidine, trazodone, and gabapentin, can be used to manage other troublesome effects associated with Norco withdrawal such as muscle aches, cramping, anxiety, and insomnia.


Aftercare is crucial to staying sober.

Participating in some form of ongoing treatment after an inpatient and/or outpatient stay is crucial to staying sober and free from drugs such as Norco. It keeps you connected to other people who can support you in your continuing recovery, hold you accountable, and offer advice when you run into problems.

Types of aftercare include:

Short- and Long-Term Side Effects of Norco Dependency

Girl with head on desk staring off into space
Norco addiction can lead to a number of problems in the short- and long-term.

Norco intoxication has a number of side effects, including: 1,5

  • Drowsiness.
  • Mental confusion.
  • Mood swings.
  • Apathy.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation.
  • Slurred speech.

Longer-term abuse of Norco can physically result in more serious health and social problems, including:

  • Severe constipation. 5
  • Malnutrition.
  • Sclerosed veins (“track marks”) if injected. 5
  • Risk of HIV and hepatitis if injected. 5
  • Irritation of the nasal mucosa and perforation of the nasal septum if snorted. 5
  • Sexual dysfunction in males and females. 5
  • Severe respiratory depression. 2
  • Overdose. 5
  • Accidents. 5
  • Liver injury from acetaminophen toxicity.
  • Impaired relationships as users become consumed with seeking and using Norco and often neglect their families and jobs.
  • Financial problems.
  • Depression.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical withdrawal symptoms from Norco can be very unpleasant, but are not life-threatening.

The biggest risks from withdrawal symptoms are relapse and the risk of self-harm in individuals who become depression or experience intense emotions or symptoms from an underlying mental health disorder. Receiving treatment in a recovery center that includes medically supervised detox can make the process much easier and safer.

Symptoms of Norco withdrawal include: 2,5

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Muscle and bone pain.
  • Restlessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Cold and clammy skin.
  • Insomnia.
  • Involuntary leg movements.

The severity of these symptoms, and how long they last, will depend on:

  • How long the person was using Norco.
  • How much he or she was taking.
  • Physiological and psychological makeup.
  • Whether any other drugs were used.

Find a Treatment Program for Norco Addiction

Treatment for Norco addiction is only a phone call away. Call 1-888-319-2606 Helpline Information to talk to a rehab support specialist who can put you in touch with a program that is the best fit for you or your loved one. The specialist can offer you treatment options based on your insurance coverage.


[1]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). How do opioids affect the brain and body?

[2]. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Prescription Drug Abuse. What are the possible consequences of opioid use and abuse?

[3]. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Principles of Adolescent Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment. A Research Based Guide.

[4]. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2010). Comorbidity: Addictions and other illnesses.

[5]. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

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