Patients who use Vicodin or other hydrocodone drugs will have a tougher time filling prescriptions for the drug after October 6, 2014.
Hydrocodone is a popular pain reliever and cough suppressant. Drug makers routinely combine hydrocodone with ibuprofen and other analgesics to improve the therapeutic action of both drugs. Patients suffering from acute or chronic pain, like that caused by cancer or surgery, rely on this opioid drug, which is made from extracts of the opium poppy plant. Hydrocodone and hydrocodone combination products are available only by prescription.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is the federal agency responsible for categorizing drugs and creating laws controlling the use of those drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. The agency had classified hydrocodone combination products as Schedule III drugs, meaning the drugs posed only a minor to moderate risk for abuse and addiction.
Hydrocodone abuse and addiction rates have risen sharply in the past few years because the drug is potent and was easy to get. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), enough prescription pain relievers were sold in 2010 to medicate every American adult with 5 mg of hydrocodone every four hours for an entire month. This excessive use of hydrocodone led to widespread abuse and recreational use that resulted increasingly in hydrocodone addiction, overdose and death.
In response to widespread misuse of this opioid painkiller, the DEA recently reclassified hydrocodone combination products from a Schedule III to Schedule II to restrict access to the drug further.
The final regulation, effective on October 6, means that doctors can no longer phone in a prescription for hydrocodone and that patients must present a written prescription to the pharmacist. Refills will not be allowed, although physicians may write multiple prescriptions to give patients a 90-day supply. The change in classification also means that drug suppliers must re-label hydrocodone products, which will inevitably slow down supply lines to consumers.
Implications of Hydrocodone Schedule Changes
This slowdown will make it difficult for some patients to control their chronic pain until drug makers sort out supply chain problems. Patients who have used hydrocodone for a long time, and are therefore physically dependent on the opioid, may suffer uncomfortable symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal as they go without the drug or switch to another pain reliever. Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms pose an extra burden to patients already in pain.
DEA officials hope the schedule changes will reduce the amount of hydrocodone available for recreational use and consumer abuse. A growing number of people who suffer hydrocodone addiction and physical dependence due to recreational use and abuse will also experience hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms.
Individuals with hydrocodone addiction or dependence may benefit from medical treatment that eases hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms as they seek a new solution to their chronic pain. WAISMANN METHOD ® a pioneering opiate treatment based on safe and proven protocols, utilizes the most advanced medical techniques available for easing hydrocodone withdrawal. Waismann Institute a major center for hydrocodone addiction, substance abuse treatment, and ultra- rapid detoxification. We offer a variety of programs from rapid opiate detoxification under sedation, to medically assisted detoxification and other forms of addiction treatment at Domus Retreat.
The physicians, doctors, therapists and staff at WAISMANN METHOD® work with patients to create personalized treatment and aftercare plans designed to ensure a healthy and effective transition to life without hydrocodone. We offer hydrocodone rapid detox for patients that needs help to withdrawal and we implement a long-term strategy for recovery.