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Lortab and Codeine: Differences and Similarities

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People who experience moderate to severe or chronic pain often find over-the-counter treatments insufficient. For this reason, and several others, it is not uncommon for doctors to prescribe a medication like codeine or Lortab, a blend of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

Both medications are opioids, or narcotic, painkillers. This makes them Schedule II drugs, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Drugs in this category have a high potential for abuse, and may lead to physical or psychological dependence. For this reason, users who deviate from the prescribed use of the medications can become dependent or addicted to them.

However, opioids remain some of the most effective drugs to alleviate pain. They work by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body. Once there, they disrupt pain messages to the brain, thus reducing the pain sensations. For this reason, they have been a staple of medical therapy used by millions of people each year.

Lortab and codeine are not the same medication, despite having many similarities. To learn more about these medications and to find out about how to treat an addiction to them, call 800-291-1732 (Who Answers?) . If you are struggling with a dependence upon Lortab or codeine, you don’t have to continue this way. You can make a change.


Both codeine and Lortab require a prescription. This means that they are safe to use for a short period of time if used in accordance with a doctor’s instructions. However, people with a history of substance or alcohol abuse may be more sensitive to their habit-forming nature than other users and this information should be provided to the prescribing doctor.

Codeine should not be prescribed to people who:

Lortab and Codeine

Both Lortab and codeine have a high abuse and addiction potential.

  • Are allergic to it
  • Have an uncontrolled breathing disorder
  • Have a bowel obstruction, called paralytic ileus
  • Have frequent hyperventilation of asthma attacks

Lortab should not be prescribed to people who:

  • Are allergic to it
  • Have used an MAO inhibitor in the previous 2 weeks

Medical Use

It is important the people with a prescription for codeine or Lortab use the drugs medically. Deviating from the prescribed usage is called nonmedical use and, per the United Nation on Drugs and Crime, it is defined as “taking of prescription drugs, whether obtained by prescription or otherwise, other than in the manner or for the reasons or time period prescribed, or by a person for whom the drug was not prescribed.”

Examples of nonmedical use include:

  • Seeking multiple prescriptions for the medication
  • Using the medication in larger amounts than prescribed
  • Using the medication more frequently than prescribed
  • Using medication that was not prescribed to you
  • Changing the form of the medication—crushing it or adding it to water and injecting it—to use it
  • Using the medication in conjunction with drugs or alcohol

Nonmedical and recreational use are the cause of addiction to codeine and Lortab for most people.

Side Effects

Users of both medications are likely to experience some side effects; although there are some slight variations, both are opioids, so they have similar symptom profiles.

Both medications commonly cause:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite

The more serious side effects of opioids include:

  • A hypersensitive reaction marked by a skin rash, a swelling of the tongue or throat, and difficulty breathing
  • A respiratory depression marked by slowed breathing and difficulty breathing
  • A decrease in blood pressure

Unlike Lortab, codeine can cause morphine conversion, when the body quickly processes codeine into morphine. This can cause morphine in the blood to increase to a high level and that’s dangerous.

Unlike codeine, Lortab has acetaminophen in it and that can be damaging to the liver. A normal dosage should be safe, but nonmedical use is risky. Drinking alcohol while taking the medication can increase the danger.

When a person develops a substance use disorder with either medication, the risks of negative outcomes increases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 14, 000 death in 2014 that involved overdose of prescription opioids. People with an addiction to these medications need treatment. Call 800-291-1732 (Who Answers?) to get the information needed for recovery. It’s time to get control back.

Dangers of Promethazine-Codeine Abuse

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