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Lortab Withdrawal & Detox

Lortab withdrawal, typically lasting a week to a month, involves medication-assisted treatment to manage symptoms like anxiety, muscle pain, and cravings. Peak symptoms occur in the first few days, necessitating medically supervised detox for safe recovery.

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Lortab withdrawal generally lasts about a week to a month for most people. In most cases, people who have been addicted to Lortab begin medication-assisted treatment (MAT), where they take a medication like buprenorphine to keep withdrawal symptoms and cravings under control.

Now discontinued by the FDA, Lortab is made up of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, a narcotic-analgesic combination. It is classified as an opioid pain medicine. The acetaminophen increases the impact of the opioid formulation.

What Is Lortab Withdrawal?

Lortab withdrawal refers to the uncomfortable symptoms that a person experiences after discontinuing the use of the prescription painkiller once dependence has formed. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and some symptoms can be dangerous. 

Medical intervention is necessary when a person chooses to withdraw from the drug. The first symptoms of withdrawal usually appear within the first 6 to 12 hours after stopping the medication.

Users report that they experience mild withdrawal symptoms during this phase, such as sweating, stomach cramps, nausea, and muscle, bone, and joint pain.

What Causes Lortab Withdrawal?

Lortab withdrawal happens when the drug is stopped or when a person substantially reduces their intake. Because the drug has a high risk of abuse, the body “rebels” when the brain’s receptors do not receive the medication after a period of prolonged use. 

That’s because a dependence has developed, which causes the body to adapt to the sustained presence of the drug. Without the drug, the body cannot restore its equilibrium quickly enough to prevent the user from getting sick.

What Are the Common Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal?

Lortab withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity and duration depending on the individual and the severity of abuse. However, common symptoms of Lortab withdrawal include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Muscle, joint, and bone pain
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hypertension
  • Irritability
  • Depression

According to the Journal of Pain Research, most hydrocodone products, including the brands Vicodin and Norco, are immediate-release formulas with effects lasting from four to six hours. Some extended-release varieties of hydrocodone, like Lortab, may have effects that last up to 12 hours per dose, which can extend the onset of withdrawal as well.

Factors That Determine the Intensity of Lortab Withdrawal Symptoms

Several factors influence withdrawal symptoms and intensity, such as these:

  • Age and medical history
  • Formulation of the drug
  • Frequency of use and average dose of Lortab 
  • Underlying health issues 

The longer a drug is taken, the easier it is to develop a significant dependence on it. As a result, it takes longer for the brain to restore itself once use stops.

Age & Medical History

Older people may experience more intense withdrawal symptoms than younger individuals. 

Drug Formulation

Lortab was formulated in tablets and liquids as well as in extended-release versions of the drug. Therefore, withdrawal symptoms may emerge later if the person regularly took tablets, for instance, that were formulated as extended-release painkillers. 

Drug Use

People who have used Lortab extensively can expect a harder time with withdrawal than people who used it less frequently. Withdrawal symptoms may be more intense, and they may last longer. It’s also likely that the person will experience stronger cravings to relapse. 

This is why it is essential to take part in a medically supervised treatment program that includes treatment and support during detox and the early phases of recovery.

Underlying Health Issues 

If your Lortab abuse started due to an underlying health issue, you need to get treated for that health problem as well. If you have any co-occurring physical or mental health conditions, it’s imperative to have those adequately addressed in order to promote recovery on all fronts. If you don’t, relapse is likely. 

Lortab Withdrawal Timeline 

Again, Lortab or hydrocodone will produce withdrawal symptoms 6 to 12 hours after the last dose. Withdrawal usually peaks within 72 hours and may last from a week to 30 days. Drug cravings and emotional side effects may persist throughout the month.

Days 1–2

Symptoms begin about 6 to 12 hours after stopping the drug. These symptoms tend to be mild to moderate initially. They include stomach upset, sweating, and joint, muscle and bone pain.

Days 3–5

During this time, withdrawal symptoms typically worsen and peak. People may experience shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms that are intense or especially distressing.

Relapse is likely during this time if support isn’t available. People will take Lortab again simply to make these uncomfortable symptoms go away.

Days 6–7

Patients experience some relief during this time, as physical symptoms begin to subside. During this phase, moodiness is common. Other psychological symptoms, such as drug cravings, may linger as well, thus keeping the potential for relapse high.

Day 8 & Beyond

For people with severe addictions, some symptoms like anxiety and moodiness may emerge during the post-withdrawal stage. These symptoms may last from days to months. That is part of the reason why continued treatment after detox is strongly advised.

How to Detox From Lortab Right

Detoxing from Lortab is not simply a matter of helping a patient get sober. When done right, detox involves building a foundation in recovery that can decrease the likelihood of relapse. To make this happen, medications may be used to manage withdrawal and behavioral therapy can be used to address causes of Lortab abuse. This can all help to lower the chances of relapse following detox. 

Several prominent drugs are used to help people manage opioid use disorder related to Lortab abuse. Methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine are common medications used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). 

Naltrexone blocks the opioid receptors in the brain, so people don’t experience the same euphoric effects from opioids. Buprenorphine helps to lessen cravings for opioids, and it prevents opioid withdrawal symptoms. Methadone has the longest history of use in OUD treatment, but the drug does have a high potential for abuse. 

Therapy is part of MAT, and it helps to identify issues (or triggers) that lead to Lortab abuse. Clients also build skills in therapy that help them resist temptations to relapse.

Do not attempt to stop taking Lortab on your own suddenly. Withdrawal can be intense, and it’s very likely that you’ll simply take Lortab again in this situation. If you do, the potential for overdose is high, particularly if your tolerance lowered at all while you attempted to stop abusing the drug.

Break the Cycle of Addiction Now

You can break the cycle of addiction. Whether you’re addicted to Lortab or another painkiller, your first step to freedom is to enroll in a medically supervised rehab program. Seeking an addiction treatment facility is the first step to take on the road to sustained recovery.

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated May 10, 2024
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  6. Alleviating Symptoms of Withdrawal From an Opioid. (December 2012). Pain and Therapy.
  7. Opioid Withdrawal. (April 2023). StatPearls.
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