Hydrocodone is an opiate and one of those painkillers that millions of Americans are addicted to. Read the news, especially reports having to do with New England, and you’ll hear addiction stories of those caught in the nation’s heroin epidemic.
Hydrocodone is not heroin necessarily. However, because it’s often prescribed to relieve pain and frequently a drug that is abused, many who are addicted to painkillers will eventually make their way to using heroin. Both pain medication and heroin are both opiates and can produce the same high. However, heroin is becoming less and less expensive, allowing for an easy switch to heroin from painkillers. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of heroin users almost doubled. In 2007, for example, 337 thousand people were addicted to heroin in America and in 2012 that number jumped up to 669 thousand.
In fact, there are thousands of people needing sober living treatment in America who simply aren’t getting it. Even though many lives could be saved by residing at inpatient treatment centers and later at halfway houses, those who are addicted to opiates often don’t see a problem until it’s too late. In America, nearly 24 million people are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Yet only one in ten will get treatment.
To help curb the problem, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) ruled that it would reclassify all medical products containing the hydrocodone to Schedule II, which is a more restrictive class for more dangerous medication. Their intention is to allow a smaller amount of hydrocodone into the market, restricting it so that less people can get their hands on it.
However, the truth is, that anyone addicted enough to need sober living treatment can search in the medicine cabinets of friends and family members and find some. Hydrocodone is frequently prescribed and often in high doses. It’s important to note, however, that when opioids are taken according to the way they have been prescribed, they’re considered to be safe. They will relieve pain and rarely cause an addiction. Yet, when these drugs are not taken according to direction, when they are abused, that’s when an individual can become vulnerable to addiction. And for this reason, the ruling is meant to keep hydrocodone medication away from those who aren’t meant to be using it.
Sadly, addictions to opioids are easy to develop, especially with regular use of tobacco, alcohol, and/or marijuana. It’s common for painkillers to become a door to the use of other drugs, which speaks to the general drug problem in America. With so many teens and adults needing treatment and sober living, there’s a clear problem in our country which invites a deep look at the cause of this widespread social problem.
Although the recent DEA’s ruling is meant to help solve this problem, there are 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain who might be affected by the more restricted classification of hydrocodone. For instance, the reclassification will make this drug harder to get for those who actually experience pain and who need a way to get relief. When the ruling goes into effect in October, pain medications with hydrocodone will only be prescribed for a 90 day period and patients will have to be seen by a doctor to get a new prescription. Furthermore, refills will not be able to be called into the pharmacy.
There’s no question that there is a drug concern in America, and the fact that the majority of those who need sober living treatment aren’t seeking it also points to a social issue. Perhaps the DEA ruling will help. Meanwhile, friends and family members will have to find their own solutions to keep their loved ones safe.
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