Updated on April 1, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
When we talk about the opioid crisis, we often mention illegal drugs like heroin. But, you can also find opioids legally prescribed to patients throughout the country. Lorcet contains the opioid hydrocodone, which can cause harsh side effects and addiction. As a combined medication, its other components can cause even more risks.
Lorcet has two main ingredients: hydrocodone and acetaminophen. While acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter painkiller, hydrocodone is an opioid with much stronger effects. Both drugs combine to relieve moderate to severe pain, but each one has side effects that can result in long-term harm.
Acetaminophen side effects include:
Meanwhile, hydrocodone can cause symptoms like:
During a hydrocodone overdose, the user can stop breathing completely, which can be fatal. Patients with hydrocodone prescriptions often have a rescue medicine available in case of accidental overdose.
As a medication containing both acetaminophen and hydrocodone, Lorcet can cause any of their side effects. Overdosing can cause liver damage or death, and a single dose can result in overdose if not taken as directed.
Acetaminophen has no potential for addiction, but hydrocodone is a very addictive substance. Even a prescribed patient can become dependent if they don’t take their medicine correctly. Patients with a family history of addiction or a mental illness have an even higher risk of getting addicted and should let their doctor know before taking a drug like Lorcet.
Unfortunately, mistakes happen, and the consequences are severe. Any kind of misuse can result in addiction, and people without a prescription can sometimes access hydrocodone due to its commonality. Hydrocodone-based drugs like Lorcet are the most commonly prescribed opioid in the United States, making it easily available for recreational abusers.
Plus, the nature of opioid drugs like Lorcet make it easy for accidents to occur. As a side effect, Lorcet can create feelings of relaxation and euphoria. It can also change the chemicals in the brain that control pleasure, eventually requiring the patient to take it to feel “normal” instead of happy. In 2011, more than 82,000 ER incidents involved hydrocodone abuse.
Since combination hydrocodone drugs like Lorcet also include acetaminophen, addicts can experience severe damage to the liver and kidneys. Excessive use of acetaminophen can even result in liver failure. When used with alcohol or other drugs, the risk for organ damage becomes even worse.
As you can see, hydrocodone-based medications like Lorcet have serious dangers we can’t ignore. Avoiding hydrocodone altogether or lowering existing doses could reduce overdoses and addiction. However, patients in pain still deserve to have an effective treatment that lets them live comfortably. Medical marijuana not only relieves pain, but it can’t cause serious side effects or lethal overdose.
Research shows that cannabis medicine can work as an adjunct treatment or replacement for hydrocodone drugs and other opioids. In one study examining almost 3000 patients, 97 percent of opioid users could lower their doses, and 81 percent felt that medical marijuana worked better to soothe pain.
Scientific studies covering the interactions between cannabinoids and opioids suggest we can use medicinal marijuana to treat opioid addiction. The components in marijuana affect the same parts of the brain as opioids, but without strong addictive properties or harsh side effects. A literature review gathered this research and supported further investigation of cannabis for addiction.
Check out our guide to medical marijuana and opioid dependence for more information about cannabis medicine for addiction.
Check out our resources on specific opiates and medical marijuana: