The drug, Vicodin, has become the most widely sought after and abused drug in the United States. Without regulations that inhibit the ability of almost anyone to access the drug, people are dying of Vicodin addiction.
The FDA is now recommending stronger restrictions on the administration of Vicodin. What this proposal means is that people who seek the drug will have to show more proof of a true physical need, and anyone who is caught with Vicodin, without a proper prescription, will be legally penalized, as they would for oxycodone (OxyContin), heroin, cocaine, and any other more controlled substances.
Current Classification and Restrictions
Vicodin is listed as a Schedule III Controlled Substance. There are 5 levels, or schedules, that decrease in risk, so Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous for human use and Schedule V the least. Drugs like heroin and LSD fall into Schedule I while drugs like cough suppressants and light pain relievers fall into Schedule V.
Vicodin, a prescription narcotic painkiller, is currently in Schedule III along with any drugs that contain less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit or contain less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), plus ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone. These substances are considered to have decent risk for physical and psychological dependence, meaning the user’s body and brain can fairly easily become addicted to them when used regularly, but not to the level of Schedule I and II drugs.
The FDA’s recommended changes would move Vicodin from the Schedule III list to the Schedule II list. This means the drug has been found to have a higher risk for dependence and addiction than previously thought. Vicodin would be deemed more comparable to OxyContin, Percocet, Demerol, Dilaudid, Adderall, Ritalin, and fentanyl, which is more accurate than being compared to Tylenol with codeine.
The decision will be made by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA, based on research and statistics on the documented repercussions of Vicodin use, abuse, and addiction.
If passed, the DEA would be changing the entire administration process of Vicodin in the United States. As of right now, with a Schedule III listing, Vicodin is appropriate as a prescription for pain. People prescribed Vicodin are able to access refills without having to visit their doctor. A physician can call in a refill without seeing a patient, and a patient can simply say that pain is still high, and another 30, 60, or 90 days of the drug are dispensed.
The Schedule II classification would transform that process. Patients can only have, at most, a 90-day supply of Vicodin until another doctor’s office visit is complete and the physician assesses the patient in person to determine a continued need for such a strong painkiller.
Potential Impact of Reclassification
The effects of this change can be huge. Millions of people who have become addicted to Vicodin will no longer have easy access to the drug, and millions more will be screened closely before an initial Vicodin prescription is written. Less people taking Vicodin means less progression to Vicodin addiction and fewer overdose deaths.
If you, or someone you know, is taking Vicodin, help is needed, whether or not the drug classification changes. Vicodin use rarely stays at a manageable level. Addiction is progressive, so when left untreated, a few pills turns into several pills everyday. The chemicals in Vicodin cause major and irreversible internal damage that you can stop now!
Call the treatment team at Balboa Horizons to find out the next step. You can stop using this dangerous drug, start making different choices, and begin healing and working toward a healthier life.