Norco is a brand name for the combination prescription drug acetaminophen/hydrocodone. It’s used to treat moderate to severe pain.
Vicodin, Lorcet, and Lortab are other brand names for this combination, which is also available as a generic.
Hydrocodone is a narcotic, while acetaminophen is a mild painkiller. Combined, they belong to a class of drugs called opioid analgesics, which work by blocking certain nerve cell receptors in the brain.
Manufactured by Watson Pharmaceuticals, now Actavis Inc., Norco was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1997.
Doctors have prescribed acetaminophen/hydrocodone “off label” for coughs and insomnia.
As with all prescription drugs that contain acetaminophen, the FDA requires that the labels carry a “black box” warning highlighting the potential for severe liver damage, and another warning about the potential for allergic reactions.
Before taking Norcol, it’s important to tell your doctor about any allergies you have, not only to hydrocodone and acetaminophen, but to other narcotics, such as morphine or codeine, and whether you have liver or kidney disease.
Since hydrocodone can slow or stop your breathing, your doctor also needs to know about any brain disorders or head injuries, asthma, chronic disruptive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, or seizures. Like any narcotic painkiller, hydrocodone can become addictive.
You should be candid with your doctor if you’ve had a personal history of drug or alcohol abuse.
Pregnancy and Norco
Norco is in FDA Pregnancy Category C, meaning that it’s unknown if Norco can harm a developing fetus because no adequate and well-controlled studies have been carried out in pregnant women.
However, it could cause shallow breathing and symptoms of physical dependency and withdrawal in a newborn, and is therefore not recommended during pregnancy.
Since acetaminophen and hydrocodone are excreted in breast milk, it’s best not to breastfeed while taking Norco.
The ‘Norco High’ and Abuse
Hydrocodone, the narcotic component of Norco, makes it ripe for abuse, especially since it’s easily available as a generic and is not an expensive drug. The drug can give users a feeling of euphoria that lasts several hours.
Abuse of any narcotic drug, including Norco, can result in addiction, overdose, or death, especially in a child or other person using the drug without a prescription.
Going cold turkey, or stopping the drug abruptly after developing a dependency on it, will likely bring on withdrawal symptoms. These usually include sweating, a runny nose, watery eyes, goose bumps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, and agitation.