How does Lortab work?

Lortab works by changing how the brain and body perceive pain. More on Lortab’s uses, side effects, and dangers here.

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Lortab is an opioid medication containing hydrocodone that’s used to treat moderate to severe pain. So how does Lortab affect the body and brain? Does it have the same effects for everyone? What are the dangers and side effects of Lortab use? Is Lortab addictive? We’ll explore all those questions and more in this article. And we invite YOUR questions about Lortab at the end.

How does Lortab affect the brain and nervous system?

Lortab stays in your system for around 24 hours.  But how does Lortab affect the brain during this time?  The most basic explanation of how Lortab affects the brain and nervous system is that the main ingredient in Lortab – hydrocodone – slows activity in the brain. But Lortab also has a special quality of binding to opiate receptors in the brain, which helps to lessen the feelings and perception of pain. But do people take Lortab to get high?

Yes.  In fact, the action Lortab has on the body’s neurotransmitters can also cause a euphoric “high” as a side effect of its analgesic action.  This is the main reason why Lortab is classified as a narcotic. So Lortab works through a complex chemical interaction (that experts still don’t really understand) to slow the brain and cause effects on the body.

How does Lortab work in the body?

Lortab contains hydrocodone, a synthetic substance derived from opium, and the non-narcotic painkiller acetaminophen. When Lortab uses include medical reasons and Lortab is taken as directed by a doctor, people usually only experience mild side effects to the pain pill.  But when Lortab is abused by being taken in large doses, or when people take Lortab by snorting or injecting the powdered pill, severe adverse effects are more likely. As a central nervous system depressant, Lortab can have some of the following effects:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • impaired coordination
  • loss of consciousness
  • nausea/vomiting
  • shallow breathing
  • slowed heart rate

How fast does Lortab work

When taken orally, Lortab will reach peak plasma levels in about 1.3 hours. Some people will crush Lortab pills to get more immediate effects, either snorting the powder or dissolving it in water and injecting it into the bloodstream, but these methods are dangerous. Although these modes of administration can cause near immediate effects of Lortab pain relief or a Lortab high, they can harm your nasal passages or veins, cause infection, and lead to increased adverse reactions.

How long does Lortab work?

Lortab’s effects will usually last for 4-6 hours. While Lortab is supposed to be taken throughout the day to manage pain, it’s dangerous to take Lortab more frequently than prescribed. Similarly, Lortab is easy to overdose on, and can cause liver damage in large amounts.

What makes Lortab work better?

Lortab works best taken by mouth in the directed dose. Taking larger or more frequent doses opens you up to potential overdose, and increased adverse effects. Don’t take Lortab with other central nervous system depressants – avoid alcohol and benzodiazepines. Mixing Lortab with alcohol and other drugs can also lead to overdose.

Does Lortab work for everyone?

No, Lortab is not right for everyone. Lortab is addictive, and it’s not recommended for those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Some people may experience serious side effects to Lortab. There may be other medications you’re taking which prevent you from using Lortab, so always check with your pharmacist before taking any new medications.Anyone who experiences problems while taking Lortab should talk to their doctor immediately.

Questions about how Lortab works

Do you still have questions about Lortab or how it works? Please leave us your questions here. We try to answer all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: DailyMed: Lortab
Medline Plus: Hydrocodone
ToxNet: Hydrocodone
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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