Norco vs. Vicodin
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Last Updated - 03/29/2022View our editorial policy
Norco and Vicodin may be similar opioid medications, but there are a few differences between these two drugs.
Norco and Vicodin are similar opioids that are often prescribed for pain. Although they are both Schedule II controlled substances that contain hydrocodone and acetaminophen, there are some differences between the drugs, and they are not completely interchangeable. Knowing the differences between the medications can be helpful if you are taking one of the drugs.
What Is Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen Used For?
Hydrocodone-acetaminophen is used to treat pain severe enough to need an opioid. Both Norco and Vicodin contain the opioid hydrocodone and the analgesic acetaminophen. However, the amount of each ingredient can differ in Norco and Vicodin. Both ingredients play different roles in pain relief:
- Hydrocodone: Hydrocodone is an opioid that binds to the brain’s mu opioid receptors. It can influence how someone perceives pain.
- Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen is an analgesic, or pain reliever, that can work alongside hydrocodone to improve its pain-relieving effects.
Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen Brand Name
Hydrocodone-acetaminophen is sold both as a generic combination drug and under many different brand names. It is important to remember that although all the combinations contain both substances, it does not mean they are interchangeable. Some combinations may have higher doses of each ingredient than other combinations.
Current brand names include Xodol and Verdrocet, while past brand names include:
- Vicodin, Vicodin HP and Vicodin ES
- Lorcet Plus, or Lorcet 10/650
- Theracodophen Low 90
Difference Between Vicodin and Norco
Many differences exist between Vicodin and Norco, including the available doses in which the drugs are sold. Other than dosage, Vicodin and Norco have many similarities. For example, both brand names have been discontinued, and the drugs are only available as generics. However, they are still commonly referred to as Vicodin and Norco.
Both Vicodin and Norco are available only as oral tablets. Neither drug is available in other dosage forms, such as liquid, patch or injectable. However, they differ in terms of the available doses. Although they both contain similar amounts of hydrocodone, each tablet of Norco contains slightly more acetaminophen than Vicodin.
|Vicodin doses||Norco doses|
|Hydrocodone 5 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg (Vicodin 5-300) Hydrocodone 7.5 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg (Vicodin ES 7.5-300) Hydrocodone 10 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg (Vicodin HP 10-300)||Hydrocodone 5 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg (Norco 5-325) Hydrocodone 7.5 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg (Norco 7.5-325) Hydrocodone 10 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg (Norco 10-325)|
Vicodin and Norco are not the only options for hydrocodone-acetaminophen combination drugs. Several other brand names, dosage forms and doses are available. These include:
- Oral elixir: brand name Lortab
- Doses available: hydrocodone-acetaminophen 10-300
- Oral solution: only sold as a generic
- Doses available: hydrocodone-acetaminophen 7.5-325 and 10-325
- Oral tablet: Verdrocet, Xodol, and as generic
- Doses available: hydrocodone-acetaminophen 2.5-325, 7.5-300, 10-300, 5-300, 5-325, 7.5-300, 7.5-325, 10-300, 10-325
Norco is available at several different doses, and the drug should be taken only as directed by your doctor. However, typical instructions for Norco are:
|Norco dose||Typical instructions|
|Hydrocodone 5 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg (Norco 5-325)||One or two tablets every four to six hours as needed for pain, not to exceed eight tablets in a 24-hour period|
|Hydrocodone 7.5 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg (Norco 7.5-325)||One or two tablets every four to six hours as needed for pain, not to exceed six tablets in a 24-hour period|
|Hydrocodone 10 mg, acetaminophen 325 mg (Norco 10-325)||One or two tablets every four to six hours as needed for pain, not to exceed six tablets in a 24-hour period|
|Vicodin dose||Typical instructions|
|Hydrocodone 5 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg (Vicodin 5-300)||One or two tablets every four to six hours as needed for pain, not to exceed eight tablets in a 24-hour period|
|Hydrocodone 7.5 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg (Vicodin ES 7.5-300)||One or two tablets every four to six hours as needed for pain, not to exceed six tablets in a 24-hour period|
|Hydrocodone 10 mg, acetaminophen 300 mg (Vicodin HP 10-300)|
Hydrocodone to Acetaminophen Ratio
Vicodin and Norco contain similar amounts of hydrocodone but slightly different amounts of acetaminophen. As a result, the hydrocodone to acetaminophen ratio can vary slightly between them.
Ratios are calculated by comparing the amount of hydrocodone to acetaminophen. For example, a ratio of 1:60 indicates that for every 1 mg of hydrocodone, there is 60 mg of acetaminophen.
- Hydrocodone to acetaminophen ratio in Vicodin
- Vicodin 5-300, 1:60
- Vicodin ES 7.5-300, 15.600
- Vicodin HP 10-300, 1.30
- Hydrocodone to acetaminophen ratio in Norco
- Norco 5-325, 1:65
- Norco 7.5-325, 15.650
- Norco 10-325, 2:65
Because Norco, Vicodin and other hydrocodone-acetaminophen drugs both contain similar amounts of their active ingredients, they are similar in strength. However, higher doses of each are stronger than lower doses. For example, a tablet of Norco 10-325 (containing hydrocodone 10 mg and acetaminophen 325 mg) is stronger than a tablet of Norco 5-325, which contains only hydrocodone 5 mg and acetaminophen 325 mg.
Vicodin and Norco have very similar side effects due to their nearly identical ingredients. For both drugs, the most common side effects are:
- Nausea and vomiting
Little data exists directly comparing Vicodin to Norco. However, because they have nearly identical ingredients and are available in nearly identical doses, they likely work similarly well.
Because Vicodin and Norco have the same ingredients and only minor differences in the amount of acetaminophen per tablet, they have identical drug interactions. One of the biggest drug interactions for both substances is with central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines or alcohol. Combining these substances with opioids like hydrocodone is very dangerous and can increase the risk of overdose. About 16% of opioid overdose deaths also involve the use of benzodiazepines. Mixing alcohol with acetaminophen is also dangerous and can lead to liver damage.
A drug’s half-life refers to how long it takes for half of a single dose to be completely removed from your system. The half-life of hydrocodone is about 3.8 hours, while the half-life of acetaminophen is usually 1.25 to three hours. These half-lives are the same for both drugs, regardless of whether a person is taking Vicodin or Norco.
Potential for Abuse
Because both Vicodin and Norco are Schedule II controlled substances, they both carry a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. As they both contain identical amounts of hydrocodone, it is unlikely that one carries a higher potential for abuse than the other.
Norco and Vicodin Addiction Treatment
If you struggle with Norco, Vicodin or other hydrocodone-acetaminophen drugs, you are not alone. Help is available at The Recovery Village at Baptist Health, a full-service addiction rehab center that offers a variety of programs to help you quit drugs like Norco and Vicodin.
The first step in treating an addiction is detox, which involves slowly weaning you off of Vicodin or Norco to cleanse your system of the substance. Following detox, it is important to enroll in a hydrocodone rehab program, as research shows it takes at least 90 days of treatment to remain abstinent.
Rehab can take place in a variety of settings, such as:
- Inpatient rehab: In this type of rehab, you live onsite at the facility to focus full-time on your recovery without distractions.
- Partial hospitalization program: This type of rehab is a transition between inpatient and outpatient rehab. Throughout this program, you gain more and more independence as you steadily recover from addiction.
- Outpatient rehab: In this kind of rehab, you live on your own and get re-acclimated to the outside world while continuing therapy and receiving support. Teletherapy is available for outpatient rehab.
If you or someone you love is struggling with Norco or Vicodin, The Recovery Village at Baptist Health is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about addiction treatment programs that work well for your situation.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “Controlled Substances.” November 18, 2021. Accessed March 18, 2022.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” February 3, 2021. Accessed March 17, 2022.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).” January 2018. Accessed March 17, 2022.
Drugs.com. “Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen.” May 1, 2021. Accessed March 18, 2022.
Drugs.com. “Norco.” March 1, 2021. Accessed March 18, 2022.
Drugs.com. “Vicodin.” July 22, 2021. Accessed March 18, 2022.