Norco Withdrawal Symptoms And Timeline

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

When an individual stops taking opiates abruptly, they may experience mild to severe symptoms of withdrawal. Although these symptoms are rarely life-threatening, without medical supervision or treatment, Norco withdrawals may have fatal complications.

Symptoms of Withdrawal from Norco

Is Norco an opiate? When considering the symptoms of withdrawal, people tend to ask this question. Norco is a combination drug of an opiate and non-opiate analgesic (acetaminophen) – other brands of this combination include Vicodin, Hycet, Lorcet –  so just like all opiates, it may cause some unpleasant symptoms when one quits using it. The symptoms of withdrawal from Norco include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Flu-like feeling
  • Increased tearing of the eyes
  • Muscle aches
  • Abdominal pains
  • Yawning
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Depression

Infants of mothers who take or stop Norco while breastfeeding may also develop these symptoms and others, which include high-pitched cry, hyperactive reflexes, seizures, sneezing, and irritability (inconsolable crying)

Furthermore, an individual’s overall health condition also determines how long opiates stay in one’s system and, in turn, how severe the withdrawal symptoms will be.

The after-effects of stopping opiates are also worse and last longer when it involves drug combinations. For instance, mixing Xanax and Norco produces more severe symptoms during detox since both drugs have additive effects.

young woman feeling dizzy

Timeline for Norco Withdrawal Symptoms

Quitting Norco does not produce withdrawal symptoms at once. The symptoms usually begin eight to 24 hours after the last dose and last for up to 72 hours to a week, progressing until they resolve spontaneously. The Norco withdrawal timeline below outlines how the symptoms progress after stopping the drug abruptly.

6 to 12 hours after the last dose

Being a short-acting opiate combination, people who stop taking the drug may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within 6 to 12 hours following the last Norco pill. These initial symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Excessive yawning
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure.

72 hours after the last dose

As the drug is weaned off the system, these initial mild symptoms progress to more intense withdrawal effects beginning 72 hours after the last dose. These symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • A strong craving for opiates
  • Depression

Protracted Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Once the acute effects resolve after 72 hours of taking the last dose, some persons may experience a prolonged phase called protracted acute withdrawal syndrome. This phase largely consists of psychological symptoms such as depression, mood disturbances, and sleep disturbances; however, these withdrawal symptoms are typically mild and may last a few months before resolving.

How to Know It’s Time to Get off Norco

Norco is a prescription drug that doctors use to treat moderate to severe pain. Although it can be very effective, it can also be addictive. Therefore, one knows it is time to discontinue the drug (by tapering off Norco) when one begins to experience the following signs of addiction:

  • Tolerance: This means that it takes a larger dose of the drug to get the relief one once experienced with a smaller dose. If a user finds that they need to take larger doses to get the same relief, it is time to taper off and stop the drug.
  • Strong craving: When one has become addicted to the drug, it is not uncommon to feel a strong, irresistible desire to use the drug. This strong desire to use the drug may occur several times a day.
  • Overuse: If a user finds that the intake of Norco has become more frequent and regular than recommended, it may be time to discontinue it.
  • Obsession: A strong desire to use the drug creates an obsession that makes one do everything they can (legally or not) to obtain the drug including stealing money or getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors.
  • Misuse of the drug: Misuse such as snorting, intake of larger doses of hydrocodone than recommended, or combining with other substances of abuse to get its effects much faster suggests abuse and increases the risk of Norco overdose. This is a cue to get off the opiate as a user has already become dependent on it.
  • Personal and social problems: Norco street price ($2-$10 per pill) is high so obtaining the drug for recreational use may have serious financial implications. When one’s use of opiates begins to cause severe personal problems such as financial troubles, job loss, marital problems, it is time to get off it.
  • Continuous use despite health problems: When a user begins to experience severe respiratory problems, sleep deprivation, recurrent nosebleeds from snorting Norco, and difficulty breathing, and continues to use the drug, it is time to get off it.

drug addict with a nosebleed

Effective Norco Detox

Avoiding overuse of opiates not reduces the body’s dependence on them, but it also prevents the Norco side effects long term such as liver damage. The best way to discontinue this opioid drug is to taper one’s dosage over a given duration.


During this detox period, the drug leaves the system and produces physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal, which are best managed by a doctor.

Furthermore, the doctor may prescribe and administer certain medications that provide Norco withdrawal relief, and a long-acting opioid such as methadone to aid weaning off Norco while reducing the likelihood of opioid craving – this is called opioid replacement therapy.

Another such opioid that can help get off hydrocodone is Tramadol. This is because in comparing Tramadol vs Norco, Tramadol has much lower abuse potential than Norco and helps to block its binding site in and effects on the brain, reducing the user’s craving for Norco.

Additional procedures

To lower the severity of withdrawals and detox safely, doctors ensure the following:

  • Hydration: Vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea that occur in Norco withdrawal may cause loss of bodily fluids. Therefore, it is essential to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Good fluids for rehydration include those with electrolytes such as coconut water or sports drink. In a detox facility, the supervising doctor may administer an intravenous crystalloid such as lactated ringers or normal saline to keep the patient well hydrated.
  • Adequate nutrition: During a withdrawal, one may lose electrolytes when vomiting or passing frequent stools. One, therefore, needs to increase the intake of foods rich in potassium and magnesium to replenish the body’s depleted stores. These foods include bananas, melons, watermelons, and apricots.
  • Exercise: Exercise can improve symptoms of Norco withdrawal. Exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which alleviate anxiety and improve mood, thus lowering the intensity of symptoms.

How long does it take to detox from Norco? If done in a detox facility, most people become free of symptoms within 5 to 7 days. However, unsupervised withdrawal done at home may take longer.

sad woman lying on sofa

Can One Detox from Norco at Home?

Seek the help of a healthcare professional or trained detox specialist to get off the drug safely.

Getting Help

As a result of Norco’s addictive tendency, it yields withdrawal symptoms when one quits its use. However, while these withdrawal symptoms are generally tolerable, they may cause fatal complications, Therefore, a patient should detox from the drug in good rehab centers close to them, where doctors and addiction experts guide patients in tapering off Norco and also administer medications to lower withdrawal symptoms and prevent complications.

Page Sources

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  3. Maciej Gonek, Hamid I Akbarali, Graeme Henderson, William L Dewey. Reversal of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone Tolerance by Diazepam. Brain Res. 2017 Nov 1; 1674: 84–90.
  4. Gavin Bart. Maintenance Medication for Opiate Addiction: The Foundation of Recovery. J Addict Dis. 2012 Jul; 31(3): 207–225.
  5. Jennifer S. Potter, et al. Buprenorphine/Naloxone and Methadone Maintenance Treatment Outcomes for Opioid Analgesic, Heroin, and Combined Users: Findings From Starting Treatment With Agonist Replacement Therapies (START). J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2013 Jul; 74(4): 605–613.

Published on: November 14th, 2016

Updated on: December 18th, 2019

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.


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