Norco and Alcohol

Mixing drugs with alcohol is always considered to be risky. Combining Norco, a controlled substance containing a mixture of acetaminophen and hydrocodone, is no exception to this rule.

Norco and Alcohol

Norco is a narcotic pain reliever that has a high-risk factor for addiction and dependence. It acts on the body’s central nervous system, as well as the brain, by attaching to particular receptors and stimulating neurons in the brain in order to increase the individual’s pain threshold, reducing pain sensations.

The hydrocodone in Norco is a synthetic analgesic derived from codeine. As such, it has many of the same properties as those found in opioids or opioid derivatives. Most importantly, hydrocodone is used to elicit feelings of mild euphoria and wellbeing, helping with pain management. When taken in lower doses, this is not a concern. However, Norco has been shown to have a high potential for abuse, leading to a physical dependency. When Norco is consumed with alcohol, this can be disastrous.

Both alcohol and Norco have their own long lists of side effects and possible risks. According to information found in the Complete Guide to Prescription & Nonprescription Drugs and the Handbook of Drug Interactions: A Clinical and Forensic Guide, mixing alcohol and Norco can produce the following side effects:

  • Impaired judgment or perception
  • Decreased motor coordination
  • Decreased cognitive ability
  • Enhanced sedative effects
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vertigo
  • Confusion, paranoia, psychosis
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Increased risk of developing seizures
  • Decreased breathing or heart rates
  • Damage to respiratory, cardiovascular or other bodily systems
  • Increased chance of liver damage
  • Enhanced potential to develop a substance misuse disorder

When alcohol is introduced into the body, it does two things to the hydrocodone component found in Norco: (1) it causes a quicker release of the drug into the body; and (2) it causes increased absorbability of the drug. In essence, this causes hydrocodone to flood into the body –which can cause an overdose.

Due to the nature of these two drugs, any attempt to treat one without the other will likely be unsuccessful. This can lead to further substance abuse and possibly other serious or life-threatening medical conditions. Withdrawal symptoms for people who heavily use alcohol are of great concern, as they are at a higher risk of developing life-threatening seizures during the acute alcohol withdrawal experience.

Treatment methods, managed by both medical and mental health care providers, should follow a protocol that includes the following:

  • Medical detoxification
  • Individual and/or group counseling
  • Medications for mental health issues or physical conditions
  • Post-detox treatment consideration
An individual working to detox from Norco and alcohol can expect to encounter any, or all, of the following symptoms:

  • Intense cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Mental confusion
  • Feeling jittery or nervous
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, nausea)
Norco and Alcohol
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