Lortab is a drug that was created for the purposes of treating moderate to severe pain. The brand “Lortab” is a medication that consists of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. The formulation is essentially the same as Vicodin, but is marketed under a different name. Therefore the Lortab withdrawal symptoms should be arguably identical to those who are going through Vicodin withdrawal – they are the same formulation.
In the United States, Lortab is considered a “Schedule II” controlled-substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse. Additionally it is thought to be associated with creating physical and psychological dependence. It works to relieve pain by stimulating the mu-opioid receptors and acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. Although its intended usage is to provide individuals with pain relief, it is sometimes used recreationally to “get high.”
Many people find Lortab helpful to provide pain relief, but in the long-term, staying on an opioid is not medically recommended. Long-term use of opioids can deplete your body’s endorphin supply and natural ability to fight pain. Additionally they can affect hormone levels and result in a variety of side effects such as foggy thinking and dizziness. If you are planning to withdraw from this drug, read below for more information.
Factors that influence Lortab withdrawal
When quitting Lortab, there are going to be various factors that contribute to the severity of withdrawal. Contributing factors to the intensity of your withdrawal tend to include: the duration for which you took this drug, your dosage (and tolerance), whether you are addicted or dependent, and other individual factors such as physiology, habits, social support, etc.
1. Time Span
How long did you take Lortab? If you have only been on it for a couple weeks to help manage short-term pain, withdrawal will likely be relatively easy. However, if you were on it for years as a result of being addicted or to manage more chronic pain, withdrawal may be difficult. Those who took this drug for years likely have a high tolerance and will end up dealing with more extreme physical and psychological discontinuation symptoms.
2. Dosage / Tolerance
How much Lortab were you taking? Those who are taking a high dose will likely have more difficulty coping with withdrawal and a greater level of tolerance compared to those at a lower dose. The lower the dose and the less frequently you take it, the less likely you are to develop a tolerance. Listed below are the various formulations for the drug Lortab.
- Lortab 5 mg / 325 mg Acetaminophen – On this dosage, most people take 1 to 2 pills every 4 to 6 hours to manage pain. The maximum daily dose with this formulation is 12 pills.
- Lortab 7.5 mg / 325 mg Acetaminophen – At this dosage, most people take just 1 pill every 4 to 6 hours. The maximum daily dose with this formulation is 6 pills.
- Lortab 10 mg / 325 mg Acetaminophen – For this particular formulation, most people take 1 pill every 4 to 6 hours. The maximum daily dosage for this formulation should not exceed 6 pills.
If you have developed a tolerance, your body’s endorphin supply may already be slightly depleted. Individuals who are taking the Lortab 10 mg at the daily maximum of 6 pills are likely going to have a tougher withdrawal than those taking 5 mg of the drug once a day. Those with higher tolerance tend to have more significant alterations in neurotransmitter functioning and endorphin levels.
3. Addiction / Dependence
Are you addicted to taking Lortab? It is very easy to become addicted to the initial euphoria that accompanies taking an opioid. Even individuals who are taking the drug for its intended purpose of treating pain can become unintentionally addicted. After taking the drug for awhile, you may become dependent on its effects for functioning.
Becoming dependent on the effects of Lortab may lead to significant impairment in functioning without it – which is why many individuals cannot bring themselves to quit taking it. Other individuals use the drug on an illicit basis as a means for coping with depression and anxiety. Although Lortab and other opioids may work well in the short-term, they are not sustainable long-term solutions due to rapid development of tolerance.
People who are addicted and/or dependent on this drug tend to have a significantly tougher time quitting. If you know that you are addicted to Lortab, it may be best to seek the help of a qualified professional to help address your addiction and cope with discontinuation.
4. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering
When quitting any medication, it is usually recommended to gradually taper the dosage to minimize withdrawal symptoms. Tapering allows your physiology to adjust to slight reductions in dose without completely shocking your nervous system. It should be noted that some people actually have greater success kicking their addiction to Lortab (or opiates) by quitting cold turkey.
Although cold turkey withdrawal from a high dosage may yield potent withdrawal effects, at lower dosages, abrupt discontinuation may not be very severe. Individuals that are on a maximum daily dose, may want to work closely with a medical professional to follow a tapering protocol. If you are unable to cope with withdrawal symptoms after building a high tolerance, you could even consider “opioid replacement therapy” as an alternative.
5. Individual Factors
There are many individual factors that will influence someone’s experience during Lortab withdrawal. Two people may take the exact same dose of the drug, for the exact same time period, yet have different reactions to discontinuation. One person may experience severe withdrawals that are long-lasting, while another individual may have a few rough days and feel better within a week or two.
Individual factors such as physiology, social support, amount of exercise, dietary intake, occupation, and environmental stress can have an impact on both discontinuation symptoms and speed of recovery. It should also be noted that if you are taking any other drugs, these may act to reduce discontinuation effects.
Lortab Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities
Understand that when coming off of Lortab, you will likely exhibit many classic opiate discontinuation effects. The active ingredient in this drug is hydrocodone, so you may want to reference hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms for further information. Keep in mind that you may not experience every symptom below. Also, the severity and duration of symptoms is highly individualized.
- Abdominal cramps: Experiencing cramps in your abdominal region is common upon discontinuation of Lortab and other opiates. In addition to feeling cramping throughout your abs, you may also notice cramps in other areas of your body. Despite the initial discomfort that cramps may cause, they will eventually stop.
- Anxiety: It is very common to feel significant anxiety when you stop taking this drug. Lortab is an opiate that stimulates the mu-receptor, which can lead to anxiolytic effects. Your anxiety may be pretty severe in the early stages of withdrawal, but should lessen in intensity over time.
- Appetite changes: Many people notice that their appetite is significantly reduced during the first several days of withdrawal. Although you may not feel like eating much, getting proper nutrition is thought to help speed up recovery. Understand that your appetite will eventually come back in full force, but it may take time.
- Body aches: Another common experience is to feel aches throughout your body when you stop taking the drug. This is a medication that works to help minimize physical pain. When you stop taking it, you may become temporarily sensitive to even minor aches. Over time, these aches should reduce in intensity.
- Chills: You may notice that you feel very chilled after you’ve stopped this drug. These chills are similar to those when you feel physically sick. Understand that like every symptom, the chills will eventually stop.
- Confusion: Feeling confused and having poor cognition can be noticeable during withdrawal. You may feel disoriented, sick, and unable to think clearly. The general sense of confusion may be difficult to deal with, but should be significantly better within a few weeks.
- Cravings: Many people, especially addicts will crave Lortab during the withdrawal process. Although you may not crave the drug during the acute stage of withdrawal, once you’ve dealt with the physical symptoms, the psychological cravings may hit you hard. Understand that these may last for months following your last dose, but will get easier to deal with the longer you’ve been off the drug.
- Depersonalization: Feeling unlike your normal self is very common during withdrawal. The feeling of being “depersonalized” can make anyone have increased anxiety and feel as if they are never going to return to their old homeostatic functioning. Over time, the feelings of depersonalization should improve, and eventually a full recovery will be made.
- Depression: Many people report feeling depressed for an extended period after they’ve gone through opiate withdrawal. The mental depression is usually caused by depleted endorphins, lack of mu-receptor stimulation, and changes in neurotransmitter levels. Eventually you should experience gradual improvements in your mood.
- Diarrhea: While you take Lortab, it is common to experience constipation. The exact opposite effect of diarrhea tends to occur when you quit taking it. In order to cope with this symptom, you may want to consider getting some over-the-counter Imodium.
- Dizziness: Some people feel very dizzy or a sense of vertigo when they quit the drug. This sensation tends to be more pronounced among individuals who quit cold turkey from a high dose, but can occur in anyone. This is a very common symptom of withdrawing from any powerful drug.
- Fatigue: Most people note significant fatigue during the first few weeks of withdrawal. This fatigue is caused by a variety of factors including: neurotransmitter changes, endorphin changes, and the nervous system working in overdrive trying to restore itself. Do your best to get proper rest, but push yourself if the fatigue seems excessive.
- Flu-like symptoms: The combination of diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and body aches can make withdrawal symptoms very similar to the flu. Do not be surprised if you feel like you are actually dealing with the flu during early stages of withdrawal. Realize that most of these symptoms should improve within a couple weeks.
- Headaches: You may notice that you develop a pounding headache and/or migraine when discontinuing Lortab. Experiencing headaches or migraines is a fairly common, yet uncomfortable physical reaction to withdrawal. Drink plenty of water, get proper rest, and in proper time, these will subside.
- Insomnia: Since opioids tend to act as depressants, they can work extremely well to help a person fall asleep at night. When the supply is cut, a person may not be able to fall asleep at a proper time. If you notice that you are up all night because you can’t fall asleep, practice some type of relaxation such as meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery – this should help gradually reduce your insomnia over time.
- Irritability: Do you notice yourself getting easily upset and frustrated with others? When you feel irritable, every little thing that someone says or does can make you mad. Do your best to recognize this as a withdrawal symptom and understand that the irritability will eventually pass.
- Itching: When you stop taking the drug, tiny nerve endings under your skin can become hypersensitive. The drug helped block out pain and influenced their functioning. When going through withdrawal, you may notice a relentless itching – this will eventually go away as soon as nerve endings recover.
- Joint pain: It is common to experience body aches and pain in your joints when you discontinue. The joint pain can be very uncomfortable, and if severe, you may want to talk to your doctor about ways to cope. You should experience some improvement after a month or two following discontinuation.
- Mood swings: During withdrawal, there’s no telling what your mood may be like. Certain days you may feel really depressed, another day you may feel irritable, while another you may feel hopeful. It is common to experience mood swings as your nervous system repairs itself and transitions to normative functioning.
- Muscle pain: Those who took this drug to treat muscle pain, may notice that when they stop they experience pain. Most people are going to experience a little pain upon discontinuation. If you were on Lortab over a long-term, your body’s endorphin levels have likely dropped. As they recover, the muscle pain that you experience should also improve.
- Nausea: A physical reaction that people have when quitting Lortab is they feel nauseous. This nausea can become overwhelming to the point that it causes vomiting. It’s certainly not comfortable to feel nauseous, but this symptom should only last a week or two.
- Palpitations: If you experience sensations that your heart is pounding, racing, or beating abnormally loud – these are called “palpitations.” Dealing with palpitations is common during withdrawal because your nervous system is highly sensitive. As you learn to relax and overcome anxious symptoms, these should subside.
- Panic attacks: Certain individuals with naturally high levels of anxiety may panic during their withdrawal. In some cases, people experience such extreme anxiety that they do not know how to cope. This leaves their nervous system in a high state of arousal, making them more prone to panic. If you experience panic attacks, learning relaxation techniques can be very helpful.
- Poor concentration: In addition to noticing memory impairments and confusion, you may realize that you no longer have the ability to concentrate. This is usually a result of being preoccupied with physical symptoms, feeling agitated, and brain fog during withdrawal. Your ability to concentrate will eventually return to a normal level.
- Pupil dilation: When you take an opioid, your pupils will contract. When you stop taking it, your pupils will likely dilate. If you look in the mirror and notice that your pupils have become huge, just know that it’s a part of withdrawal. The huge pupils will eventually contract back to a normal size.
- Rapid heart rate: Some people notice changes in their heart rate when they stop taking Lortab. This is because the drug tends to act as a depressant, meaning it slows heart-rate activity. When a person stops taking it, their heart rate could temporarily increase to a higher range.
- Runny nose: Your nose may run excessively during the first few weeks of withdrawal. It may be helpful to keep a box of tissue nearby if you experience this symptom. Additionally you may notice watery eyes, similar to having the common cold.
- Suicidal thoughts: Do you feel suicidal now that you’ve stopped taking Lortab? This symptom tends to occur because the drug creates changes in neurochemicals and brain functioning. Stimulation of the mu-receptor is known to cause improvements in mood. Feeling suicidal can be a result of eliminating the mu-receptor stimulation as well as endorphin levels being depleted.
- Sweating: You may notice that your body begins to sweat profusely after you have quit taking Lortab. This is a physical reaction to lack of the drug as well as a way for your body to detoxify itself. Some people report increased sweating throughout the day, cold sweats at night, and/or sweating all the time.
- Vomiting: In some cases, people end up feeling so sick and nauseous that they vomit during withdrawal. Usually a person will get sick during the first week or two, and then this particular symptom should improve. For many people the vomiting stops within just a few days after it starts.
- Yawning: When withdrawing from any opioid, a common physical symptom is that of yawning. You may notice that you are yawning excessively for no reason. Even during the day after a full night’s sleep you may continue to yawn. Realize that this is a physical reaction and that the yawns will fade in time.
How long will Lortab withdrawal symptoms last?
There is no universal timeline that can be followed for withdrawal from Lortab. The duration of withdrawal symptoms will be based mostly on individual factors. Someone who has been on a high dose of the drug for an extended period of time will likely have more potent symptoms than someone who was on a low dose. It should also be mentioned that some people are naturally more sensitive to drug withdrawals than others – and therefore report more symptoms.
In many cases, subjective reporting of symptoms is all someone can use to describe their experience. People have different thresholds for certain symptoms as well as different ways of coping with them. In general, most acute symptoms will last 7 to 10 days following your last pill. The acute stage of withdrawal is characterized by intense physical and psychological symptoms.
Most people will notice that they feel significantly better within a few weeks of their last pill. However, some people experience what is referred to as “PAWS” (post-acute withdrawal syndrome). The post-acute withdrawals tend to persist after the acute withdrawals subside, and usually are psychologically-based. For example, someone may experience fatigue, depression, anxiety, and insomnia for months after their last Lortab.
The half-life of the hydrocodone within Lortab is just under 4 hours, meaning Lortab stays in your system for under 24 hours after your final dose. Although the drug will be cleared from your body in less than a half-day, the withdrawal symptoms tend to start once the nervous system reacts to the withdrawal. These symptoms will persist for as long as it takes for the nervous system to restore itself to homeostasis.
In order to recover as quickly as possible, it is recommended to engage in healthy habits. Various habits that will help the nervous system restore normative functioning include: light exercise, eating healthy, being social, and getting proper sleep. If you have dealt with Lortab withdrawal and/or are in the process of quitting, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.