OxyContin Most Abused Prescription Painkiller in US

Study Finds That OxyContin and Hydrocodone Most Abused Prescription Painkillers

oxycontinOxycodone, the active ingredient in prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet, as well as Hydrocodone, which is the active ingredient in painkillers like Vicodin, are the two most popular prescription painkillers among Americans that are addicted to prescription drugs.

Researchers in this latest study surveyed 3,500 prescription painkiller abusers in 160 drug treatment programs across the United States. Their results found that 45% of former prescription painkiller addicts preferred Oxycodone-based drugs, while 30% favored Hydrocodone.

Although both prescription painkillers come in pill form, about 64% of Oxycodone users and around 25% of Hydrocodone users crushed the pills and inhaled the drug. One in five Oxycodone abusers said they dissolved the pill in water and injected it, while less than 5% said they injected Hydrocodone.

The prescription painkillers’ popularity varied by gender, age, and personality. OxyContin specifically was favored by those who like taking risks, and who usually inject or snort drugs to get high. That group, according to researchers, consisted mainly of young males. Hydrocodone drugs like Vicodin and Lortab were preferred by women, older people, and those that don’t like injecting or snorting drugs. The group generally preferred to deal with a doctor or a friend, rather than a street drug dealer.

“Opioids are prescribed to treat pain, but their misuse has risen dramatically in recent years,” principal investigator Theodore Cicero, a researcher at Washington University, St. Louis and a professor of neuropharmacology in psychiatry, said in a university news release. “Our goal is to understand the personal characteristics of people who are susceptible to drug abuse, so we can detect problems ahead of time.”

“Among the reasons addicts prefer oxycodone is that they can get it in pure form,” Cicero continued. “Until recently, all drugs with hydrocodone as their active ingredient also contained another product such as acetaminophen, the pain reliever in Tylenol. That turns out to be very important because addicts don’t like acetaminophen.”

After Deliberation, FDA Recommends Limits on All Prescription Painkillers

In January of this year, the FDA convened an advisory committee to hear evidence related to hydrocodone and related prescription painkillers, which voted in favor of reclassifying those prescription painkillers as Schedule II. The DEA has also pushed for this change for years. The FDA later agreed to back the recommendation.

“Rescheduling the products to Schedule II would create significant hardships for all — leading to delayed access for vulnerable patients with legitimate chronic pain,” said the National Community Pharmacists Association, in a statement.

The DEA, however, noted that 75% of prescription painkiller abuse and addiction stems from ease of access to hydrocodone-based drugs.

Oxycodone drugs like OxyContin are already listed as Schedule II drugs. The FDA does not allow for a certain number of refills on Oxycodone prescription painkillers, and those taking them must go to their physician for a refill each time. In theory, this allows their doctor to look for potential signs of drug addiction.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Charges of Prescription Painkiller Abuse

If you have received criminal drug abuse charges, or are suspected of abusing prescription painkillers, you are not automatically guilty, and you do not give up any of your rights. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help defend you. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Do not let criminal drug charges such as trafficking or possession ruin your reputation and career prospects. Contact us today. 803.252.4800.

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