Norco (A complete review)

Norco is another word for hydrocodone.

It is used to treat pain and consists of both opioid analgesic (pain-relieving) properties and non-opioid pain-relieving properties.  

What is Norco? 

Norco is the brand name of hydrocodone, which is a prescription pain reliever.

Norco is an opioid but also contains non-opioid acetaminophen so is a combination medicine.

Norco is used for pain relief, containing both opioid and non-opioid properties.

How do you take Norco?

Norco is taken in tablet form and must pass through your digestive system before any of the effects are felt.

The acetaminophen portion is rapidly absorbed and the effects are usually felt within 10 to 30 minutes after the drug is ingested.

The hydrocodone (opioid) component of Norco is slower-acting; the effects will be felt after 30 to 60 minutes.

The pain-relieving effects last between four and eight hours. 

Is it possible to overdose on Norco?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on Norco. If anyone you know is experiencing a Norco overdose, get emergency medical help immediately.

The typical signs and symptoms of a Norco overdose include the following:

·      difficulty breathing

·      bluish colored fingernails and lips

·      cold, clammy skin

·      coma or loss of consciousness

·      confusion

·      dizziness

·      drowsiness

·      fatigue

·      lightheadedness

·      low blood pressure

·      muscle twitching

·      highly constricted pupils

·      seizures 

·      weakness

·      weak pulse.

If an overdose causes loss of consciousness, first responders can administer naloxone (Narcan) to counteract the effects of the overdose. 

Are there any side effects of Norco?

Yes, these can include:

·      nausea

·      vomiting

·      constipation

·      lightheadedness

·      dizziness

·      drowsiness.

Some of these side effects may decrease after you have been using this medication for a while.

To prevent constipation, eat dietary fiber, drink enough water, and exercise.

You may also need to take a laxative. Ask your pharmacist which type of laxative is right for you.

To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.

Remember that if a doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit is greater than the risk of side effects.

Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

How long does Norco stay in your system? 

Norco stays in your blood for up to 24 hours, urine and saliva for up to three days, and hair up to 90 days. 

Does Norco interact with other drugs? 

It is not recommended to drink alcohol while taking Norco because the combination of these two substances can lead to many serious side effects. 

Alcohol with the opioid form of Norco, the hydrocodone, can cause breathing problems, loss of motor coordination, unusual behavior, drowsiness, dizziness, and difficulties remembering things. 

Alcohol with the acetaminophen component of Norco can lead to stomach problems and liver damage.

Research has shown that exceeding 4,000 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen a day can cause potentially irreversible and sometimes fatal liver damage.

For this reason, many accidental overdoses happen. 

Alcohol with the acetaminophen component of Norco can lead to stomach problems and liver damage

It is imperative to talk to your doctor about any other medications that you are currently taking, because Norco can interact with many other drugs. These include the following: 

·      Benzodiazepines (examples include brand name Xanax, generic name alprazolam; Librium, generic name chlordiazepoxide; Klonopin, generic name clonazepam, Valium, generic name diazepam; Ativan, generic name lorazepam; Halcion, generic name triazolam).

These drugs are prescribed to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizure disorders. 

Mixing Norco with benzodiazepines can cause slow breathing and even death.

Other medications that interact with Norco include muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, sedatives, tranquilizers, and other treatments for mental illness or nausea. 

Does Norco have addictive potential? 

Yes. Even if you take Norco exactly as prescribed, it can still lead to tolerance and physical dependence.

Tolerance is when you need to take more of the drug to feel the same pain-relieving effects.

Physical dependence is when your body becomes accustomed to the presence of a drug, and you feel physiological withdrawal symptoms when you do not take it. 

If any of these things happen, notify your doctor immediately.

He or she may gradually lower your dose to avoid unpleasant withdrawal effects.

Symptoms of Norco withdrawal include the following: 

·      muscle aches

·      gastrointestinal disturbances such as vomiting and diarrhea

·      runny nose

·      sweating

·      fatigue

·      headaches

·      anxiety 

·      chills.

These withdrawal symptoms usually last up to a week, but your doctor may prescribe medication to help you deal with this difficult period. 

If you feel you might be addicted or dependent on Norco, do not be ashamed to talk to your doctor about inpatient or outpatient treatment.

You can also ask your doctor to refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in addiction treatment and recovery. 

Norco has addictive risks.

Can you mix Norco with alcohol?

Mixing Norco and alcohol can be very risky for a multitude of reasons. First, as with any medication containing acetaminophen, drinking alcohol in conjunction with it can cause serious liver damage.

Norco is packaged with warning labels regarding its acetaminophen content.

According to Columbia University, if alcohol and acetaminophen are mixed, it can result in the aptly named alcohol-acetaminophen syndrome.

This condition results in increased levels of transaminase, a liver protein that aids in metabolism in the organ.

This is often a sign that the liver is working too hard to metabolize both the acetaminophen and the alcohol, which can result in serious liver damage and even liver failure.

Usually alcohol is metabolized first, which leaves the highly toxic materials in acetaminophen in the liver.

It has been speculated that this hepatotoxicity could be the leading cause of acute liver failure in the country, though this has not been proven.

Should I worry about using an opioid for pain relief?

When hydrocodone is used for a long time, it may become habit-forming, causing mental or physical dependence.

However, people who have continuing pain should not let the fear of dependence keep them from using narcotics to relieve their pain.

Mental dependence (addiction) is not likely to occur when narcotics are used for this purpose.

Physical dependence may lead to withdrawal side effects if treatment is stopped suddenly.

However, severe withdrawal side effects can usually be prevented by gradually reducing the dose over a period of time before treatment is stopped completely. 

What are the contraindications of taking Norco?

Allergies – if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines.

Tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. 

Pediatric – appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of hydrocodone and acetaminophen combination capsules and tablets in the pediatric population.

Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of hydrocodone and acetaminophen combination oral solution in children two years of age and older.

However, safety and efficacy have not been established in children younger than two years of age. 

Geriatric – appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of hydrocodone and acetaminophen combination in the elderly.

However, elderly patients are more likely to have confusion and drowsiness, and age-related liver, kidney, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving hydrocodone and acetaminophen combination. 

Breastfeeding – there are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding.

Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Drug Interactions – although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur.

In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary.

When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below.

The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended.

Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

·      Nalmefene

·      Naltrexone

·      Safinamide.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Norco:

1.    Is Norco an opioid?

This combination medication is used to relieve moderate to severe pain.

It contains an opioid (narcotic) pain reliever (hydrocodone) and a non-opioid pain reliever (acetaminophen).

2.    Is codeine a Norco?

Codeine is a naturally-occurring opiate, while hydrocodone is synthetic.

Hydrocodone is considered more powerful than codeine, so it can be used for more severe pain, while codeine is usually prescribed for pain ranging from mild to moderate.

3.    Is Norco a stronger painkiller than oxycodone?

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are pain relievers. They block your body’s pain signals.

They’re very similar, but there are some differences in side effects. Both are a type of painkiller called an opioid.

Opioids come from the poppy plant, but there are man made versions, too.

4.    Is Norco a strong medication?

Norco is a strong prescription medicine that is indicated for the relief of moderate to moderately severe pain.

5. Can you get addicted to Norco?

In as little as five days of prescribed use, the risk for developing a chronic hydrocodone addiction increases significantly.

Unlike natural opiates morphine and codeine, hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid.

Generally, doctors may decide to write a hydrocodone (brand name Vicodin®) prescription to treat short-term pain following dental surgery or for injury-related pain.

However, due to the addictive nature of opioids, regular use of hydrocodone can be habit-forming.

Once the body becomes dependent on hydrocodone to feel normal, trying to quit taking them will result in symptoms of withdrawal.

6.    Can you drink alcohol with Norco?

Both alcohol and prescription painkillers are widely abused.

The risks of abusing either substance alone are great, but when the substances are combined, these risks are compounded even further.

If you want to read more about opioids and addiction try these books:

The Opioid Epidemic: What Everyone Needs to Know


The opioid epidemic is responsible for longest sustained decline in US life expectancy since the time of World War I and the Great Influenza.

In 2017, nearly 50,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose – with an estimated two million more living with opioid addiction every day.

The Opioid Epidemic: What Everyone Needs to Know is an accessible, nonpartisan overview of the causes, politics, and treatments tied to the most devastating health crisis of our time.

Its comprehensive approach and Q&A format offer listeners a practical path to understanding the epidemic from all sides: the basic science of opioids; the nature of addiction; the underlying reasons for the opioid epidemic; effective approaches to helping individuals, families, communities, and national policy; and common myths related to opioid addiction.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community.

Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America – addiction like no other the country has ever faced.

How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland


The only book to fully chart the devastating opioid crisis in America: An unforgettable portrait of the families and first responders on the front lines, from a New York Times best-selling author and journalist who has lived through it.

In this masterful work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America’s 20-plus year struggle with opioid addiction.

From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it’s a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched. 



How Long Does Norco (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) Stay in Your System. Very Well Mind. November 2019. 

Norco WebMD – January 2020

What Are the Health Risks of Mixing Norco and Alcohol? – American Addiction Centers – February 2020

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