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Norco versus Vicodin

Norco and Vicodin are prescription opioid analgesics used to treat moderate to severe pain. Both drugs are comprised of a blend of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen.  They are classified as Schedule III drugs. The government classifies Schedule III drugs as those whose abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.  They are both provided in a tablet form for oral administration.  The usual adult dosage of Norco or Vicodin is one tablet every four to six hours as needed for pain. Because these drugs are perscribed, addiction can start at home.  

The main difference in Norco and Vicodin is the ratio of acetaminophen to hydrocodone. This is an important fact to consider when using either of these drugs, as toxically high levels of acetaminophen can cause liver failure.  10mg is acetaminophen is a toxic dose.   

Components of Norco:

Amount of acetaminophen (Tylenol) stays consistently at 325mg

Amount of hydrocodone can be 5mg, 7.5mg, or 10 mg depending on severity of pain


Components of Vicodin:

There are 3 strengths of Vicodin, each level of hydrocodone with a corresponding level of acetaminophen

Vicodin: 5 mg hydrocodone and 500 mg acetaminophen

Vicodin ES: 7.5 mg hydrocodone and 750 mg acetaminophen

Vicodin HP: 10 mg hydrocodone and 660 mg acetaminophen


Common Side Effects of both Norco and Vicodin include: 

  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Nausea
  • Constipation 

Physical dependence on Vicodin or Norco generally takes hold after several weeks of continued use, although some mild dependence may be established after only several days of use in some cases.  Physical and psychological dependence are more likely to occur quicker in those who use the drug in ways not prescribed, such as by injection. 

Tolerance occurs when increasing amounts are needed to bring about the same effect, which may result in drug seeking behavior (doctor shopping, prescription theft or fraud).  Tolerance varies greatly and depends on patient. 


Signs of Possible Norco or Vicodin Abuse:

  • Paranoia 
  • Anxiety
  • Incoherent sedation or nodding out in inappropriate situations
  • Severe mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Inability to focus on work, conversations, or tasks

Symptoms of a Norco or Vicodin Overdose:

Hydrocodone component:

  • Cold/clammy skin
  • Severe drowsiness that can lead to coma
  • Possibility of cardiac arrest
  • Slowing down of heart rate and breathing problems
  • Hypotension

Acetaminophen component:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Yellowing of skin/whites of eyes
  • Mental confusion, irritability, confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Discoloration of urine
  • Liver failure

Treatment of Norco or Vicodin Overdose:

If you suspect an overdose, call your physician or a poison control center immediately 1-800-222-1222.  Overdose treatment is most effective if the overdose is detected immediately.  In some cases, it may be necessary to pump the stomach or induce vomiting to relieve the body of the toxic levels of the medication. Activated charcoal may be administered to absorb additional traces of the Vicodin or Norco. Severe cases of overdose can lead to respiratory suppression, liver failure and possible death.  


Withdrawal Symptoms of Norco and Vicodin:

Withdrawal symptoms vary by individuals, but generally follow the timeline below.  

Day 1-2: These days are the most challenging and can include the symptoms of intense muscle aches, mental and physical agitation, heavy sweating, diarrhea, loss of appetite, insomnia, anxiety, and intense drug cravings.  

Days 3-5: Diminished-but still present-muscle pain, shivers and goosebumps, abdominal cramping, and vomiting. 

Day 6 and beyond: Nausea and anxiety

Addiction to hydrocodone-based prescription drug abuse can be challenging.  You don’t have to do this alone! It is best to seek the care and supervision of a medical detox such as Pat Moore Foundation.  24/7 help is available at the Pat Moore Foundation at 1 (888) 342-7748.



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