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How to Tell if Someone Is on Lortab

Elena Hill, MD, MPH profile image
Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH • Updated Aug 14, 2023 • 7 cited sources

Lortab is a brand name medication. It contains two pain medications: acetaminophen and hydrocodone. This combination is the most frequently dispensed form of the opioid hydrocodone.[1] Like all opioid medications, Lortab has a high risk of misuse and dependency. 

Some people misusing Lortab are open, honest and ready to ask for help. Others cannot or will not ask for help. People like this may depend on their friends and family to spot the signs and intervene when they see them.

We’ve outlined what you need to know about what Lortab misuse looks like. 

Common Signs of Lortab Use 

Identifying someone with a Lortab misuse problem can be difficult. The changes may be subtle or come on slowly. However if you do notice any of the changes below, they should prompt a conversation. 

These are the three types of differences families and friends often see: 

Lifestyle Changes

Advanced opioid use disorder (OUD) is chaotic, and it has a deep impact on a person’s everyday life. People with OUD may display changes in their lifestyle and behaviors, such as: [2]

  • Unstable housing
  • Unemployment
  • Financial difficulties
  • Social connections centered on substance misuse

These problems tend to worsen opioid use disorder as they cause additional stress. Someone worried about housing, money or social connections could consider Lortab a refuge from the pain and stress of their everyday life. 

Many people with Lortab misuse have stable families, good jobs and plenty of money in the bank. OUD can touch anyone. But know that OUDs often cause chaos and the inability to fulfill traditional responsibilities. While someone may seem to be holding things together now, that could all change quickly if misuse progresses or worsens. 

Behavioral Changes

People using Lortab in excess may also display behavioral changes such as:[3]

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Fear
  • Mood changes 
  • Depression 
  • Aggression/Agitation

When the drug wears off, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. They may become agitated if they don’t have access to more of the drug.

Overall, you might notice big changes in their personality. This may be a sign of a problem. 

Physical Changes

Lortab is a powerful medication capable of causing physical changes, either during intoxication or during withdrawal.

While people are intoxicated, they may exhibit the following signs:[3]

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness/drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Itching 

In contrast, withdrawal symptoms include headaches, runny nose, anxiety, tremulousness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, and anxiety. 

Dangers of Lortab Use & Misuse 

Without intervention, OUD tends to worsen with time. People take more and more pills, and their consequences grow more severe. 

The following issues can be seen with opioid use disorder:


An overdose occurs when people take more than the normal or recommended Lortab dose. Some people overdose inadvertently, but others do so deliberately due to the mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. [4]

It’s not always easy to spot someone who is overdosing on Lortab. The most worrisome sign is sedation, slurred speech or even unresponsiveness. 

If you think someone has overdosed on Lortab, and you have naloxone (Narcan) available, administer it immediately. Even if you aren’t positive that it’s an opioid overdose, you should still administer naloxone. There are minimal negative effects of doing so, and you could be saving the person’s life. 


Brain cells grow physically accustomed to Lortab over time. Between doses, people can experience very difficult withdrawal symptoms such as the following:[5]

  • Bone pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia 
  • Muscle pain
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety 
  • Tremors/shakiness 

Physical dependence makes recovery difficult. People may return to drug use simply to make the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms subside, creating a vicious cycle of misuse. 

Chronic Health Conditions 

Each dose of Lortab includes acetaminophen, which is a known liver toxin. Taking too much of the drug can cause severe liver damage that doesn’t improve with sobriety.[5] Misuse of opioids can also lead to cardiovascular or respiratory issues. 

Getting Help With MAT

Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) uses pharmaceutical interventions like Suboxone to address chemical imbalances caused by opioids like Lortab. MAT therapies are the most effective way to treat OUD. They reduce the risk of overdose threefold.[6, 7] 

Very few people misuse Suboxone. Instead, they use the medication to help them stay sober for a lifetime. Most people continue to take the medication indefinitely, as long as it continues to support their recovery efforts. Reach out to us to learn about treatment options for OUD or for anyone misusing Lortab.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where ... Read More

  1. Hydrocodone. Drug Enforcement Administration. October 2019. Accessed April 2023.
  2. The Role of Lifestyle in Perpetuating Substance Use Disorder: The Lifestyle Balance Model. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy January 2015. Accessed April 2023.
  3. Lortab: Hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen Tablet. U.S. National Library of Medicine. October 2006. Accessed April 2023.
  4. Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen Overdose. U.S. National Library of Medicine. January 2021. Accessed April 2023.
  5. Hydrocodone. Drug Enforcement Administration. Accessed April 2023.
  6. Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. National Academies Press. November 2018. Accessed April 2023.
  7. Buprenorphine Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: An Overview. CNS Drugs. June 2019. Accessed April 2023.

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