Hydrocodone is an opioid, a class of drugs used to relieve pain. While it has legitimate medical uses it is also highly addictive. Today, hydrocodone addiction has become a serious problem that affects many people throughout our society.
Hydrocodone is marketed under a number of different trade names including:
Like other opioids, hydrocodone is used to treat intense pain that cannot be relieved through any other means. It is also an effective cough suppressant. Hydrocodone is often used in combination with acetaminophen.
About Hydrocodone Abuse
Hydrocodone works by binding to opioid receptors located in the brain, spinal cord and other areas of the body. Once bound to these receptors, they block pain signals from reaching the brain. Hydrocodone also interacts with other chemicals in the brain such as endorphins in such a way as to create feelings of euphoria and sedation. However, this drug can produce a number of negative side effects which include:
- Physical dependence
- Respiratory depression
Although hydrocodone is occasionally produced clandestinely the DEA reports that it is most likely to be obtained by diverting it from legitimate sources. Of particular concern is a practice known as “doctor shopping.” Patients go to different doctors in order to get numerous prescriptions for the medication. Illicit hydrocodone sales via the internet is also a serious problem. Opioid abuse may also lead users to begin taking heroin, a cheaper alternative that produces many of the same effects.
The illicit use of hydrocodone and other prescription opioids has reached alarming proportions in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of those involved an opioid. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have quadrupled since 1999.
Of particular concern is the rise in hydrocodone abuse by young people. The National Institute on Drug Abuse at The National Institutes of Health gathered statistics on drug abuse in a report entitled “Monitoring the Future.” It found that in 2013 annual prevalence rates for the use of Vicodin were 1.4%, 4.6%, and 5.3% in grades 8, 10, and 12.