Oxycodone and hydrocodone, two similar sounding generic prescription drugs, are narcotic pain medications that are being abused at epidemic levels in the United States and Canada.
Oxycodone, which is sold under the brand name OxyContin and used in Percocet and Percodan, is a powerful analgesic designed specifically for severe pain disorders. It has highly addictive properties. Hydrocodone, which is an ingredient in Vicodin, is another painkiller that is frequently prescribed for moderate to severe pain for everything from toothaches to backaches. Both medications are subject to abuse and may cause fatal overdose when mixed with alcohol, other drugs or when taken in amounts exceeding recommended dosages.
OxyContin is a time-released formula of oxycodone that was introduced in 1995 as a Schedule II drug. It is a synthetic opioid that is very similar to morphine. OxyContin gained national attention in 2003 when conservative radio talk host Rush Limbaugh admitted that he was addicted to it. Since then, detox centers and pain management specialists have focused on helping patients withdraw from the deadly addictive medication.
Hydrocodone is a Schedule III controlled substance, which means that a prescription for the drug can be phoned in or faxed to a pharmacy. Schedule II controlled substances, such as Oxycodone, can only be obtained with a hard copy of a prescription and there are no refills. One must get a physician’s approval for each prescription of Oxycodone due to its higher potential for abuse.
In addition to traditional treatment approaches, many addiction specialists are hoping that new medications like Suboxone can help those who are addicted to oxycodone or hydrocodone. A relatively new drug, Suboxone is another potent pain medication that is used to help ease withdrawal symptoms. Precaution should be taken when taking this drug as it too has highly addictive properties and must be administered under the supervision of a pain management physician or drug addiction specialist.
Arrest records continue to rise each day as more drug rings, dealers and pill mills reap the grim rewards from other people’s pain and suffering. Even without illegal dealers, there are unethical physicians who routinely write unnecessary prescriptions for these dangerous drugs. We must continue to increase awareness and help those in need, holding on to the hope that a permanent solution for drug addiction will someday be found.