Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
January 17, 2019

Lortab Detox Guide


Lortab is a partial opiate pain reliever chemically composed of hydrocodone and acetaminophen— ingredients commonly used to relieve the moderate to severe pain associated with cancer, surgical recovery, or medical conditions that do not respond to more conservative measures. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), hydrocodone is the most widely abused opiate in the United States, resulting in its classification as a Schedule 11 Substance. Lortab is part of the nation’s monstrous opiate epidemic that claims the lives of approximately 115 people daily, results in thousands of overdoses, and produces a thriving black market that overwhelms government authorities and law enforcement agencies.      


The physical and psychological changes associated with chronic Lortab use vary dramatically, as do the accompanying withdrawal symptoms. Like other opiates, Lortab alters neurotransmitter levels in the brain and central nervous system (CNS). Once a user crosses the threshold from experimentation to full-blown Lortab addiction, greater quantities of the drug are needed in more frequent doses in order to maintain the same euphoric effect. At this point, withdrawal symptoms become inevitable anytime there is a lapse between uses or total cessation of the drug.

A variety of clinical tools and objective measurements are used when assessing the severity of withdrawal symptoms upon admission into a detox program, including the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS). The mildness or severity of symptoms, based upon specific scores, helps determine treatment goals including when medication-assisted treatment (MAT) begins and optimal timelines for therapy. Lortab withdrawal symptoms may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Cravings
  • Perspiration
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Fevers
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches


Mild withdrawal symptoms may appear in as little as four hours following dosage, although moderate symptoms usually take 24 to 48 hours to surface— depending upon a wide range of factors, including the average dosage and frequency of use, age, gender, and overall mental and physical health. While the most severe, distressing symptoms typically peak within three to four days, diminishing symptoms may linger for approximately one to two weeks. During this period, medically managed detox is of critical importance as the user is the most psychologically fragile and physically vulnerable.

The primary goal of medically managed detox is to prevent the dangerous and potentially deadly onslaught of symptoms, a phenomenon known as “precipitated withdrawal.”  Once a user has safely transitioned past the acute withdrawal stage under professional care, they face the long-term effects associated with chronic use. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) may affect users for months and even years. In rare cases, severe Lortab abuse may result in irreversible brain changes that do not improve despite continuing treatment. Regardless, more favorable outcomes can always be expected with proper clinical care and healthy dietary and lifestyle decisions.  


Inpatient treatment for Lortab is a popular, evidence-based detox option administered under professional medical supervision.  Inpatient treatment is a short-term, live-in treatment protocol that takes place at a designated residential facility, usually for a period of at least one month.

Many clients who are addicted to Lortab suffer from polysubstance abuse and require a more intensive treatment protocol than outpatient treatment is capable of providing. Inpatient facilities offer the heightened level of clinical care (24/7 staff monitoring, etc.) and evidence-based treatment necessary to help clients physically and psychologically stabilize from the debilitating effects of Lortab addiction, and many provide an impressive range of ancillary benefits and services. Alternative healing modalities, creative and expressive arts, alumni networking, on-site recreational facilities, and comprehensive aftercare services are all examples of the added value provided by such reputable facilities. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment

MAT is an integral part of Lortab detox that combines evidence-based medications with behavioral therapy. This process allows the body and mind time to gradually return to their normal state while minimizing cravings and other adverse effects associated with withdrawal from the drug. After careful evaluation and assessment by a physician, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved pharmacological interventions are implemented, and clients begin therapy. Depending upon individual client needs, the following therapies may be included in the MAT protocol in addition to whatever medications are deemed appropriate:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Trauma-informed therapy
  • Family therapy (if needed)
  • Additional creative or expressive therapies

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Lortab addiction frequently occurs in tandem with polysubstance abuse and a host of anxiety and depression-related disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another precipitating factor associated with Lortab addiction— a statistically proven reason why users self-medicate. Dual diagnosis treatment features the combined treatment of these “co-occurring” disorders— with gabapentin, buspirone, pregabalin, SSRIs and a variety of other evidence-based medications frequently included in the treatment regimen.    


Outpatient facilities provide many of the same rehabilitation and detox services as inpatient facilities and are a popular treatment option— especially for clients whose personal and/or professional schedules require a greater degree of flexibility. Although outpatient treatment is cheaper than inpatient services, it is generally considered less effective due to the lack of 24/7 staff monitoring and less intensive level of clinical care. Outpatient programs are excellent intermediary care facilities appropriate for clients who have successfully completed inpatient detox and treatment and are available at a wide range of private and public facilities.     


Self-guided, at-home Lortab detox is considered extremely dangerous. The physiological and psychological changes that accompany chronic use are capable of triggering a multitude of unpredictable withdrawal symptoms— none of which can be effectively managed alone. Professional medical supervision is critical to ensuring optimal treatment outcomes and reducing the likelihood of future relapse. Even in the mildest of cases, self-guided detox in a home setting leads to less than favorable treatment outcomes and magnifies the sense of isolation and disconnectedness frequently responsible for fueling Lortab addiction.


A highly controlled, tapered approach to Lortab detox is generally considered to be the safest, most conservative and effective treatment method. Tapering involves a physician administering Lortab (or other opiate medications) in diminishing doses for a predetermined period of time. Quitting any medication cold turkey—especially a narcotic as potent as Lortab—gives the body insufficient time to adjust, creating unnecessary risks and complications in the process and increasing the likelihood of relapse. Although considered controversial because it involves providing an addictive substance to already addicted clients, it offers a number of advantages that outweigh its risks.    


The decision to seek treatment for Lortab addiction is critical, and individual variables such as location, affordability, insurance coverage, spirituality and facility reputation deserve careful consideration prior to enrolling in a treatment program. Reputable facilities will be able to verify insurance coverage and benefits prior to enrollment which helps ensure a relatively stress-free admission process. In the majority of cases, full, if not partial, coverage is granted. In the unusual event that coverage is denied, additional financial options will be discussed. These include federal grants, private scholarships and other forms of need-based aid.

Aside from affordability and purely financial concerns, choosing an appropriate treatment center may depend upon additional factors that help add value to a client’s experience. Although there are literally thousands of treatment centers to choose from, certain facilities are locally or nationally renowned based upon the quality of clinical care they provide, in addition to an attractive package of ancillary benefits and services. Clients will benefit from exploring the following: 

  • Program reputation, locally and nationally
  • Addition of amenities, aftercare services and on-site benefits
  • Use of state-of-the-art technology and treatment options
  • Availability of alternative healing modalities
  • Proximity to major recreational attractions (ocean, mountains, etc.)
  • Accessibility from major airports


Many clients enter detox daunted by grim recovery statistics including a 40-60 percent relapse rate. However, research also clearly shows that after five years of abstinence, relapse rates plummet to approximately 15 percenta highly encouraging statistic. Not only is long-term recovery possible, thousands of people achieve it every year. Although successfully completing initial detox and inpatient treatment represent major milestones on the road to recovery, they are not sufficient to ensure long-term sobriety. Achieving optimal recovery outcomes requires planning and implementing a comprehensive relapse prevention plan that should include:

  • NA or other 12-step recovery group involvement
  • Developing a strong sober support network
  • Actively working with a sponsor/and or peer mentor
  • Making healthy dietary and lifestyle decisions
  • Practicing abstinence and avoiding social and environmental triggers
  • Seeking community involvement or volunteer opportunities
  • Continuing individual and/or group therapy
  • Taking physician prescribed medications exactly as required
  • Developing a strong sense of spirituality or faith-based outlook


Like other mind-altering substances, Lortab is highly addictive. What frequently begins as casual recreational use quickly spirals out-of-control and develops into full-blown addiction. Lortab’s addictive charms are not exclusively reserved for those with a family history of substance abuse, or those who abuse it outside the scope of legitimate medical practices. Anyone, at any time, can find themselves addicted to Lortab and in need of professional help.  

If you or someone you love are addicted to Lortab and in need of medical assistance, contact a substance abuse professional today. Never be ashamed of the fact that you need help, but rather be proud of yourself for having the courage to face your fears and admit that you have a problem. The quality of your future begins with the decisions you make today.

And remember, in the event of a Lortab overdose, call and ambulance immediately or seek treatment at the nearest hospital emergency room (ER).

For more about Lortab addiction and recovery, check out these related articles:

  1. Opiate Addiction by the Numbers: Data You Can’t Ignore
  2. Alternative Methods for Managing Pain Without Opiates
  3. How Genetic Testing is Being Used to Reduce the Opiate Epidemic
  4. The Science of Drug Addiction


Journal of Pain Research. Extended release hydrocodone—gift or curse? Jan, 2013.

American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP). Maximum daily dose of hydrocodone. October, 2010.

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Rescheduling Hydrocodone Combination Products: Addressing the Abuse of America’s Favorite Opioid. April, 2015.

Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy. Opioid Treatment Patterns Following Prescriptions of Immediate-Release Hydrocodone.  April, 2016.