Drug overdose deaths have risen significantly over the past two decades, and drug poisonings that propel unintentional injuries have become the third leading cause of all deaths in the United States. Opioid dependence and drug-related deaths are a serious public health emergency plaguing the country; an estimated 130 people die every day due to an opioid overdose. 

The misuse and abuse of opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and prescription pain relievers like Norco have affected individuals from all walks of life. 

Addiction does not care about your skin color, socioeconomic background, or your status in society. Opioid dependence is a problem that has infiltrated all of the communities in the United States and spread like wildfire. How did this crisis become so widespread?

The current state of affairs is the result of 30 years of mistakes. There are many reasons behind this, and they are paved with good intentions to improve the quality of life for those in pain. The over-prescribing of opioids led to the misuse of drugs like Norco. 

A publication was released in the 1990s that contained a short letter to the editor in a major medical journal, and the letter declared that people with chronic pain who received opioids seldom became addicted. Because of this, some prescribers’ attitudes toward opioid use was changed. Opiates were no longer used in the treatment of acute illness or terminal pain, but they were now used to treat any pain condition. It led to more opioids being prescribed, which caused dependence and led patients to obtain more of the drugs through illegal channels.

The second wave of the crisis began in 2010 with rapid increases in overdose deaths involving heroin. During this time, medical professionals were starting to see the crisis deepen and began putting restrictions on opioid medications. When someone is addicted, they are going to “get their fix” by any means necessary. It led to a spike in heroin use because prescription drugs became more challenging to obtain, causing the prices to skyrocket on the street. Heroin, at the time, was a cheaper and more effective means of getting high and was considered a good alternative for drug users.

What followed was the final nail in the coffin — fentanyl was introduced in 2013 and overdose deaths began to skyrocket. Those not familiar with its strength were especially vulnerable because the potent substance started to show up in counterfeit pain pills, cut with heroin, and even cut with cocaine. The history of opioids is a long one, but drugs like Norco are still used to treat pain in patients who need it. How addictive is Norco when compared to other opioids? Let’s find out.

History of Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone was initially synthesized in Germany in the early 1920s by a pharmaceutical company. The chemists added oxygen to codeine with the hopes of creating a product that was as effective as cocaine but without the unwanted side effects. In the late 1920s, the United States was searching for methods that substituted opiate-containing cough medicines due to their addictive factors.

During these tests, scientists found that hydrocodone was highly effective in managing pain, suppressing coughing, and producing euphoric feelings. Hydrocodone was later approved for public use, but it was not until the 1960s that hydrocodone abuse became more prevalent.

What Are Common Opioid Drugs?

Several types of opioid prescription drugs treat mild-to-severe pain. Opioids are a type of narcotic medications that can have severe side effects if misused or abused. For people who do not have a problem with opiates, it often starts with them not following instructions for prescription medicine, or they took it longer than they were supposed to. If you need to use the drugs to control pain, it’s imperative that you follow the doctor’s directions and report any withdrawal symptoms you may have.

Some common opioid pain relievers include:

  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Hydrocodone (Norco, Vicodin

How Addictive Is Norco?

Norco, a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, has always been one of the most prescribed opioid medications in the United States. While it is highly addictive, it does not have the same potency to be as addictive as medications like Percocet or OxyContin. 

Still, Norco is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means it has a medical use and less abuse potential than Schedule I. Despite this, it acts similarly as other narcotics, and it still can be abused. There are signs and symptoms to determine if someone is becoming addicted to Norco. It functions similarly to other drugs.

Signs and symptoms or Norco abuse include:

  • Mood swings
  • Drowsiness
  • Pinned pupils
  • Impaired cognition
  • Delusions
  • Reduced heart rate

Comparing Norco to Percocet

Percocet, a drug that’s similar to Norco, is another popular opioid pain reliever that uses acetaminophen in conjunction with an active opioid. Percocet has oxycodone as the active ingredient and generally is used to treat moderate-to-severe pain. 

Percocet is considered much stronger and more potent than Norco because of oxycodone. Because of these differences, Norco is not recognized as addictive as Percocet. Oxycodone, the active drug in Percocet, is notorious for being at the forefront of the opioid epidemic because it is the active ingredient in the popular medication OxyContin.

How Many People Are Prescribed Norco?

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, more than 136 million prescriptions were dispensed in 201, making hydrocodone and Norco the most prescribed medication in the United States. Since 2006, there has been an increase of 20 million more yearly prescriptions.

Who’s Abusing Norco?

Norco has been viewed as a drug abused by professionals and others from a more affluent background. Norco abuse is not restricted to certain ages, ethnicities, or socioeconomic levels as we mentioned earlier in this article. Since it is so commonly prescribed, many people have a leftover supply of the drug in their medicine cabinets, and some give away or sell the surplus meds to friends. While there are no exact figures, estimates show that millions of people abuse the drug or have done so in the past. Another report from the DEA estimates that 24.4 million people over age 12 have used hydrocodone for non-medical reasons.

With so much emphasis on the drug epidemic, it’s imperative that information about these drugs is easily accessible. The more that information is available about these drugs, the more people will start paying attention. Norco addiction is widespread, and those struggling with addiction often are lead to stronger drugs like heroin. Eighty percent of people who use heroin started using prescription opioids like Norco. If you or someone you know is experimenting with Norco and your use is beginning to spiral out of control, there is help available to you.

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