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Hydrocodone - a mix of synthetic codeine and acetaminophen - is the most abused prescription drug in the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Soma is the nation's most abused non-controlled substance, according to the DEA. Nevada's pharmacy board is considering reclassifying it, making it more difficult for addicts to gather the cocktail's ingredients.
The major source of Hydrocodone to the street has been through bogus call-in and forged prescriptions, professional diversion through unscrupulous pharmacists, doctors, and dentists, and large-scale thefts. The pills have been sold for $2 to $10 per table
Hydrocodone will react as a normal opiate in the available field test kits.
is a growing crisis in the United States. While illegal drugs like cocaine,
marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin remain in the headlines many individuals
may be surprised to know that hydrocodone addiction could lurk right behind
them as one of the most widely-abused drugs of addiction. In fact, the federal
Drug Enforcement Administration believes hydrocodone may be the most abused
prescription drug in the country. Nationwide, its use has quadrupled in the
last ten years, while emergency room visits attributed to hydrocodone abuse
soared 500 percent.
a narcotic that can produce a calm, euphoric state similar to heroin or morphine--and
despite such important and obvious benefits in pain relief, evidence is pointing
to chronic addiction. Pure hydrocodone is a Schedule II substance, closely controlled
with restricted use. But very few prescription drugs are pure hydrocodone. Instead,
small amounts of hydrocodone are mixed with other non-narcotic ingredients to
create medicines like Vicodin and Lortab. This means they can be classified
under Schedule III with fewer restrictions on their use and distribution.
more than 200 other products that contain hydrocodone--are regulated by state
and federal law. But they are not controlled as closely as other powerful painkillers.
The lack of regulation makes them vulnerable to widespread abuse and addiction
through forged prescriptions, theft, over-prescription, and "doctor shopping."
Hydrocodone pills have been sold for $2 to $10 per tablet and $20 to $40 per
8 oz bottle on the street.
Subject to individual
tolerance, many medical experts believe dependence or addiction can occur within
one to four weeks at higher doses of Hydrocodone. Published reports of high
profile movie stars, TV personalities and professional athletes who are recovering
from Hydrocodone addiction are grim testimony to its debilitating effects.
structurally related to codeine and is approximately equal in strength to morphine
in producing opiate-like effects. The first report that hydrocodone produced
a noticeable euphoria and symptoms of addiction was published in 1923; the first
report of hydrocodone addiction in the U.S. was published in 1961.
Every age group has been affected by the relative ease of hydrocodone availability
and the perceived safety of these products by professionals. Sometimes seen
as a "white-collar" addiction, hydrocodone abuse has increased among
all ethnic and economic groups. DAWN data demographics suggest that the most
likely hydrocodone abuser is a 20-40 yr old, white, female, who uses the drug
because she is dependent or trying to commit suicide. However, hydrocodone-related
deaths have been reported from every age grouping.
Examples of how severe Hydrocodone addiction has become:
- An estimated
7 million dosage units were diverted in 1994 and over 11 million in 1997.
- In 1998 there
were over 56 million new prescriptions written for hydrocodone products and
by 2000 there were over 89 million.
- From 1990 the
average consumption nationwide has increased by 300%. In the same period there
has been a 500% increase in the number of Emergency Department visits attributed
to hydrocodone abuse with 19,221 visits estimated in 2000.
- In 1997, there
were over 1.3 million hydrocodone tablets seized and analyzed by the DEA laboratory
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