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Norco vs. Lortab: What is the Difference?

Opioids are a class of drugs that relieve pain and depress the central nervous system.[1] Doctors prescribe them short-term to manage moderate to severe pain when lesser pain relievers will not be effective. While they can help manage pain, long-term opioid use will lead to addiction.

Opioids include substances like morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and more. Hydrocodone is one of the most commonly prescribed opioids as it is found within a variety of different brand-name prescription drugs. Both Norco and Lortab contain hydrocodone.

While Norco and Lortab both contain a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, they have some differences that you should be aware of. Lortab used to be available in both liquid and tablet form, while Norco is currently only prescribed as a tablet. However, Lortab tablets have been discontinued and are only available as a liquid solution.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What are Norco and Lortab
  • How Lortab and Norco are similar
  • The differences between Norco and Lortab
  • The abuse and addiction potential

What is Norco?

Norco is a prescription pain medication that contains hydrocodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen (a non-opioid analgesic).[2] This medication is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and works by changing the way your body responds to pain signals sent by your brain. Norco might also be used to manage chronic pain among individuals with conditions like cancer or arthritis.

The side effects of Norco include:[3]

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Changes in mood
  • Blurry vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dry mouth

Norco begins working for pain relief as soon as 20 minutes after you consume it. Doctors usually prescribe it to be taken every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain.

What is Lortab?

Lortab is a brand-name medication that contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is very similar to Norco, however, it is only available in liquid form. Doctors usually prescribe it to people who cannot swallow a pill, like after oral surgery or a tonsillectomy.

This medication works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain to relieve pain. While Lortab used to be available as a tablet, it was discontinued by the Food and Drug Administration.

The common side effects of Lortab liquid solution might include:[3]

  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Mood changes
  • Ear ringing
  • Dry mouth

While Lortab can manage pain, taking it in large doses can be life-threatening. Additionally, you should never misuse Lortab, as the substance is habit-forming. If you become addicted to Lortab and stop taking it, you will experience withdrawal symptoms.

How are Norco and Lortab Similar?

Norco and Lortab both contain the same substances. These medications are a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, two drugs that can relieve pain. Hydrocodone and acetaminophen are prescribed together because they each combat pain in different ways, making the effect more powerful.

Additionally, Norco and Lortab are only available by prescription. A doctor has to evaluate your pain and decide that an opioid medication is the best method of treatment.

Neither Norco nor Lortab are intended to be taken long-term. They are both habit-forming and addictive, which means taking them for an extended period could lead to a substance use disorder.

What are the Differences Between Norco and Lortab?

While Norco and Lortab are very similar medications, there are some differences to be aware of.

The main differences between Lortab and Norco include:


Norco is only available in tablet form, which means you have to swallow a pill to take the medication. On the other hand, Lortab is only available as a liquid solution. This makes Lortab ideal for people who have had oral or throat surgery, as swallowing pills can be painful.


Next, the dosage for these medications is different. Every 15 milliliters of Lortab contains 10mg of hydrocodone and 300 mg of acetaminophen. Doctors usually prescribe 11.25 milliliters every 4 to 6 hours.

When it comes to Norco, there are several different doses available. The most common doses for Norco include:

  • 5 milligrams of hydrocodone and 325 milligrams of acetaminophen
  • 7.5 milligrams of hydrocodone and 325 milligrams of acetaminophen
  • 10 milligrams of hydrocodone and 325 milligrams of acetaminophen

The dose your doctor gives you of Norco will depend on the severity of your pain.

Can You Get Addicted to Norco or Lortab?

Whether you are taking Norco or Lortab, you can become addicted. Either taking these medications long-term or using more than you are prescribed will cause you to develop an opioid use disorder.

The signs of an opioid use disorder include:[4]

  • Taking opioids in larger amounts or for longer than intended
  • Running out of prescriptions early or obtaining them illegally
  • Desiring to quit using opioids but being unsuccessful
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about and using opioids
  • Experiencing strong cravings or desires to use opioids
  • Failing to maintain responsibilities at home, school, or work because of opioid abuse
  • Using opioids in risky situations, such as while driving or caring for children
  • Continuing to use opioids despite facing physical or mental health consequences
  • Needing to increase the dose of opioids to experience the desired effect
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using opioids

If you or a loved one suffers from opioid addiction, it’s time to consider professional treatment. Opioid rehab centers will offer you the tools and support you need to achieve long-lasting sobriety.

Finding Help for Hydrocodone Abuse and Addiction

Norco or Lortab addiction can be difficult to overcome, but an opioid rehab center will offer the services you need to be successful in sobriety. At the Mandala Healing Center, we offer evidence-based services and compassionate care to ensure you make the changes necessary to achieve long-term sobriety.

Contact us today to learn more about our hydrocodone addiction treatment center.


  1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Opioids
  2. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Norco Label
  3. Medline Plus: Hydrocodone Combination Products
  4. DSM-5 Criteria for Diagnosis of Opioid Use Disorder