Lortab: Statistics and Prevalence

Contributor: Delta Medical Center clinical team member Erica Smith, M.A., NCC

Image of man high on LortabUsed to help relieve moderate to severe pain, Lortab is a type of prescription painkiller that consists of a chemical combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. While Lortab itself is said to be moderately addictive, the fact that it contains the highly addictive chemical, hydrocodone, leads it to be placed in the Schedule III controlled substance category, meaning that it can only be dispensed in prescription form.

The development of Lortab was not intended to be used for long periods of time but rather is meant to be used only on an as-needed basis. Yet, because of the “high” that its chemical properties can induce, it did not take long for Lortab to start being used as a recreational drug.

The Prevalence of Lortab

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, more than 12 million people admitted to using prescription painkillers (such as Lortab) for nonmedical purposes. Nearly two million people admitted to doing so for the first within that same year, which is the equivalent to approximately 5,500 people trying it for the first time every day.

As is true for all opioid substances, when a person takes Lortab, he or she has the potential to experience euphoric-like effects as the chemical compounds of the drug cause the brain to become incapable of feeling pain.

person-110305_640Due to the pleasurable sensations that Lortab can elicit, individuals can quickly develop an ongoing desire to take the substance. As people continue to take Lortab for prolonged periods of time, however, they will ultimately become physically and psychologically dependent on it.

Tolerance occurs as the result of the body’s adaptation to chronic use. In other words, the longer that a person uses Lortab in order obtain pleasurable sensations, the amount that he or she takes will have to be increased in order for him or her to be able to achieve these desired feelings.

This level of tolerance leads to an increase in the dosages taken, as well as an increase in the frequency of how often the medication is ingested.

Negative Side Effects of Lortab

The use of Lortab, even when taken directly as prescribed, has the potential to bring about negative side effects, including symptoms such as mild nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation, and drowsiness.

However, there is the potential for much more serious effects to occur, especially when an individual is abusing Lortab. The following are only a few examples of the more serious side effects that can result from Lortab abuse:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Yellowing of the skin
  • Yellowing of the eyes
  • Confusion
  • Inexplicable feelings of fear
  • Seizures / convulsions
  • Incessant itching
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting / light-headedness

Psychological Side Effects

Additionally, as is true for most, if not all, prescription medications, the use of Lortab has the potential to bring about negative psychological side effects, including the onset of things such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.

At times it can be difficult to determine when someone has developed a dependency on or an addiction to Lortab because it is being prescribed by a doctor. However, there are some key warning signs that one can look out for if the abuse of a substance like Lortab is suspected, including:

  • Sudden changes in personality or demeanor
  • Going to multiple doctors in order obtain multiple prescriptions for the same drug
  • Repeatedly claiming to have “lost” a prescription and therefore needing a new one
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Becoming withdrawn from family and friends
  • Repeated absences from work or school
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Behaving in ways that are abnormal for the individual (e.g. suddenly becoming easily angered when he or she is normally laid back)
  • Decreased ability to maintain focus
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Excessive lethargy

The presence of any of these symptoms could warrant an intervention by a mental health professional. Developing an addiction to Lortab can be just as dangerous as developing an addiction to any other drug and, without proper treatment, could lead to devastating consequences.

However, when appropriate treatment is received, individuals who were once dependent on Lortab can overcome their addictions and move forwards towards a happy and sober future.


  1. http://www.drugs.com/lortab.html
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/rxbrief/
  3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/247412-the-long-term-effects-of-lortab-abuse/
  4. http://www.rxlist.com/lortab-10-side-effects-drug-center.htm

About the Author:

“Lortab: Statistics and Prevalence” was written by Delta Medical Center clinical team member Erica Smith, M.A., NCC. Erica has several years of experience working in the treatment field as a clinical therapist and has her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from the American School of Professional Psychology.

Site Description:

Delta Medical Center is a premier provider for the treatment of psychiatric concerns and chemical dependency issues. By implementing a holistic approach to treatment, our caring and compassionate staff aims to address the needs of our patients’ bodies and minds, not just treat their symptoms. Through the use of empirically validated treatment approaches, we are able to help our patients learn how to manage their addiction to substances so that they can successfully recover and move forward towards a healthy life of sobriety. The staff at Delta Medical Center does everything in their power to help everyone who comes to us for treatment restore their sense of hope and purpose while learning the tools needed to maintain a life free from the grips of addiction.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on September 29, 2014
Reviewed and Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 4, 2021
Published on AddictionHope.com