Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tighter Restrictions on Vicodin and Hydrocodone Painkillers

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently requested that the Food and Drug Administration exert tighter controls on Vicodin and other painkillers that contain hydrocodone.  Hydrocondone products are the most widely prescribed narcotic painkillers in the United States.  According to the DEA, they are also among the most frequently abused.

An FDA panel has voted to place greater restrictions on these painkillers, as a result of the DEA request, and the full FDA is likely to follow through with their recommendations.  This change is likely to affect many Baby Boomers and their families, since the older we are the more likely we are to use painkillers.  For example, they are commonly prescribed after major surgery, such as a knee or hip replacement.

Reasons for the Tighter Restrictions on Vicodin Prescriptions

Frankly, it is about time the government made this change.  At the California high school where I work, our police liaison officer has repeatedly reported that the source of most of the drugs our students abuse is not a scary drug dealer in a back alley.  Most of our students find their drugs in their parents' or grandparents' medicine cabinets!

There are only two ways to protect our young people from these dangerous drugs. The first way is for parents and grandparents to keep their prescription drugs locked up.  The second way is for the federal government to make it more difficult for people to obtain these drugs in the first place.

Unfortunately, adults (including senior citizens) who have legal prescriptions are also abusing these drugs, since they are highly addictive.  According to federal statistics, about three-quarters of all drug overdoses in the U.S. are the result of prescription drugs.  The number of deaths from prescription drug overdoses have tripled since 1999.  Since 2008, there have been more deaths from drug overdoses than from car accidents, making it one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in our country!  (See http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Causes_of_Death for more detailed statistics.)

The New Restrictions on Vicodin and Hydrocodone Prescriptions

Once these new guidelines have been implemented, automatic refills of Vicodin and similar painkillers will no longer be allowed.

Only written prescriptions from a doctor will be permitted each time you get your prescription refilled.  Faxed and phoned in prescriptions will not be allowed.

In addition, pharmacies and distributors will be required to store these drugs in special vaults, which will make it harder for thieves to steal these drugs during a burglary.

While the above restrictions should go a long way towards making it more difficult for people to obtain and become addicted to Vicodin and other hydrocodone containing drugs, doctors will need to become more cautious about writing these prescriptions in the first place.  In addition, patients who have legal prescriptions for these medications will also need to be more careful about monitoring their medications.

If you or a family member has a prescription for Vicodin, count your pills and keep track of how many you use.  If some of your pills mysteriously disappear, lock up the remainder.  It would be heart-breaking for a beloved family member to die from an overdose of your prescription medication.

In addition, if you know someone who has been struggling with an addiction to these drugs, watch them for signs that they may be buying and using illegal heroin, instead.  Sadly, some people are switching one addiction for another.

If you are interested in learning more about other health issues that can affect you, or finding other retirement information, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of other useful articles.

You may also be interested in reading:

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Photo of Vicodin tablets courtesy of www.en.wikimedia.org

1 comment:

  1. This is an extremely interesting topic. And the statistics are astounding. Thanks for keeping us current.

    ReplyDelete

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