Lortab vs. Vicodin for Pain: What is the Difference?

With all the available prescription pain medicines available and the increasing amount of attention being placed on the opioid addiction epidemic, naturally, people have questions about these drugs.

Two commonly prescribed pain medicines with an opioid component are Lortab and Vicodin.

So how does Lortab vs. Vicodin compare and what are the differences and similarities between these drugs?

Lortab vs. Vicodin for Pain: What is the Difference?
Before looking at the specifics of Lortab vs. Vicodin for pain, we’ll cover what Lortab is.

Lortab is a controlled substance by the DEA, meaning it’s available only by prescription. It’s a combination of hydrocodone, which is an opioid, and acetaminophen, which is also known as brand name Tylenol. This medicine is frequently given to patients to treat moderate to moderately severe pain, and since it’s a controlled substance, this means it does have the potential for abuse and addiction.

When someone takes Lortab, it tackles pain in two ways. First, the hydrocodone acts as an opioid, which means it changes how you perceive pain. Then, the acetaminophen stops pain signals from the brain to the body. This dual action is one of the reasons Lortab is so effective in the treatment of pain.

This medicine is available as tablets and in a liquid form often called Lortab elixir.

You’ll notice many similarities in the description of what Vicodin is. Vicodin was a Schedule III narcotic drug, as classified by the DEA, but it’s being moved to schedule II. This means that while there are medical uses approved for Vicodin, it does also have a potential for abuse.

As with Lortab, Vicodin contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

Both of these medicines are also antitussives, which means they help with a cough because of the hydrocodone.

Unfortunately, as with Lortab, there is quite a bit of non-medical use of Vicodin. Recreational Vicodin use is increasingly common in the U.S., and a significant percentage of Americans say they’ve used the drug without a prescription.

Important to looking at the comparison of Lortab and Vicodin is understanding how hydrocodone works since it is the opioid element that’s in both prescription medicines.

Hydrocodone, as with other opioids, binds to the brain’s opioid receptors. It then floods the brain and body with feel-good endorphins, so it’s masking pain you may feel and changing how you perceive it. This can also create a sense of euphoria and positive feelings, which is one of the reasons both Lortab and Vicodin carry with them the potential for addiction.

With both Lortab and Vicodin, the central nervous system is depressed because of the hydrocodone. This means that brain activity slows down when you take it, and this is what creates the potential for overdose.

For most people, hydrocodone starts working within about an hour, but unfortunately when comparing Lortab vs. Vicodin, one of the many commonalities is the potential for abuse. People might crush up these pills to snort them and get a faster, more powerful effect.

As you can see, there are quite a few similarities in Lortab vs. Vicodin. In fact, they’re essentially the same medicines, both of which with a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. While both active ingredients are the same, there are a few slight differences that can be highlighted with Lortab vs. Vicodin.

First, in Lortab, there may differences in how much hydrocodone is part of a dose or the proportion of hydrocodone to acetaminophen, but the acetaminophen itself is the same across strengths at 500 mg. Usually Vicodin will have differences in Acetaminophen, for example, the 7.5 mg of hydrocodone dose has 750 mg of acetaminophen. There are also slight differences in the inactive ingredients of Lortab vs. Vicodin.

Lortab tablets are pink and shaped like capsules, while Vicodin is usually oval or capsule shaped and white, with Vicodin imprinted on one side.

Lortab vs. Vicodin for Pain: What is the Difference?
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