Sober Living News: The DEA Reclassifies Hydrocodone

Sober Living News: The DEA Reclassifies Hydrocodone | Transcend Recovery Community

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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Sober Living News: FDA Approves Stronger Painkiller Called Zohydro ER (Part One)

Sober Living News: FDA Approves Stronger Painkiller Called Zohydro ER (Part One) | Transcend Recovery Community

The abuse of prescription painkillers in America has reached epidemic proportions. Close to half of the nation’s 38,329 drug overdose deaths in 2010 involved painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These narcotics now kill more adults than heroin and cocaine combined.

Painkillers are opioids which come in many forms that you’ve likely heard of — hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine are a few types that are used to relieve pain. If you’ve had surgery or needed to take painkillers for any reason, then you’ve likely taken opioids. Research has revealed that when opioids are taken according to the precise way that they have been prescribed, they are safe. They will relieve pain and rarely cause an addiction, when a patient takes them according to a doctor’s direction.

Yet, when these drugs are not taken according to direction, when they are abused in any way, that is when they become addictive. Sadly, addictions to opioids are easy to develop, especially after they have been using tobacco, alcohol, and/or marijuana on a regular basis. Although there are strict regulations on powerful drugs in order to prevent harm, abuse, and addiction, developing a dependency on these drugs clearly continue to happen regardless. Furthermore, attempting to find sober living after an addiction to painkillers can feel like an insurmountable task.

For this reason, many are angry about the recent approval of a new and strong drug, Zohydro ER. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug, an even more powerful prescription painkiller. Zohydro ER is a long-acting formula of the opioid hydrocodone. The short-acting form, more commonly known as  Vicodin and Lortab, is already the most prescribed and the most abused drug in the country.

In March of this year, the governor of Massachusetts attempted to ban the drug considering it lethal, but a month later, the manufacturer of Zohydro ER, a company called Zogenix of San Diego, took legal proceedings. A federal judge denied the ban and the case is pending further legal action. Meanwhile, other states are taking action to restrict the use of this powerful painkiller as well as ask the FDA to reconsider its approval.

In the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, there was a series of drug deaths related to the original version of Oxycontin as well as an incredible amount of people seeking sober help after finding themselves with an addiction. Oxycontin is now available in an abuse-deterrent formula. However, there are many who are concerned that this drug, early in its release, will have similar effects as the first version of Oxycontin.

On the other hand, Dr. Bradley Galer, chief medical officer for Zogenix, reported that the company fulfilled all of the FDA requirements so that the drug could be approved. And with that approval, there’s no reason to treat the medication any differently.  Zohydro ER should be no different from the other extended-release opioids already on the market.

Those who experience chronic pain in their bodies have to resort to taking short acting hydrocodone pills regularly throughout the day. Many complain that it is inconvenient and gets in the way of their daily work schedule. However, Zohydro ER is a new extended-release formula that will relieve them of the need to continue to take pills throughout the day. Furthermore, the new drug does not have acetaminophen, which increases the risk of liver damage. So the new drug will provide steady relief without damaging the liver.

Despite these benefits, Zohydro ER is available at a high dose – up to 50 milligrams. This is five times greater than the largest doses of immediate release medication. And adding to the huge risk of addiction with this drug, Zohydro ER is sold in capsules which can be crushed so that the medication can then be snorted, injected, and sold in various forms.

The approval of the new drug raises questions about whether the FDA has considered the risks involved, such as addiction and how this would affect those who are in sober living programs but also in chronic pain. The second part of this two series article will provide more details about the approval of the drug despite the large national concerns.


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