No one knows how many people have become addicted to hydrocodone, the prescription pain narcotic contained in such popular medications as Lortab and Vicodin. Law enforcement and drug treatment officials say the numbers are alarming and growing fast, but what's really worrying them is how easily thousands of people are becoming accidentally dependent on this highly addictive drug. And whether they're using the drug legally or illicitly, hydrocodone addicts all need a medically supervised drug detox program to safely handle the problem.
Hydrocodone (or dihydrocodeinone) is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from two naturally occurring opiates, codeine and thebaine, produced by the opium poppy. It's been in use in the US since the early 1940s, but as prescriptions skyrocketed in recent years it has found its way into millions of homes by prescription, and illicitly into the hands of tens of thousands of unsuspecting teenagers and young adults surprised to find themselves seriously addicted and in need of drug detox and, often, lengthy stays in drug rehab alongside hardened heroin, cocaine, crack and methamphetamine addicts.
If you have been prescribed painkillers, you'd do well to check the name on the container and if it's one of those listed in the next paragraph, by all means lock it up where it cannot be stolen. A high percentage of hydrocodone addicts arriving at drug detox centers became addicted to hydrocodone stolen from parents, friends and relatives.
The most common drugs containing hydrocodone are Anexsia, Bancap HC, Bekadid, Calmodid, Ceta-Plus, Codinovo, Co-Gesic, ComfortPak, Dicodid, Dolagesic, Dolorex Forte, Duocet, Duodin, Hycet, Hycodan (or generically Hydromet), Hycomine, Hydrocet, Hydroco, Hydrogesic, Hydrokon, Hy-Phen, Kolikodol, Liquicet, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, Lorcet-HD, Lortab, Margesic-H, Maxidone, Mercodinone, Norco, Norgan, Novahistex, Orthoxycol, Stagesic, Synkonin, Tussionex, Vanacet, Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Vicodin HP, Vicoprofen, Xodol and Zydone. All of these hydrocodone preparations have the addictive power to unexpectedly trap both law-abiding patients and recreational drug abusers in the dwindling spiral of dependence and addiction leading to unavoidable drug detox, or a life of loss and misery.
Another absolute rule is to never, ever share your hydrocodone prescription with another person. There are countless dangers in doing so, easily overlooked when you think you're doing someone who's in pain a favor. Hydrocodone can cause serious, even life-threatening situations if it interacts with certain other drugs or alcohol. Medical drug detox that helps you get off the drug is really the only guarantee you have that this will not happen to you. Also, the person could have any of a number of known or unknown conditions that hydrocodone can seriously worsen. Only a trusted doctor would know - and ask - all the right questions before letting anyone take a hydrocodone preparation.
Never take more than the prescribed dose, and remember how terribly addictive hydrocodone is - you can even become dependent on the prescribed dose. Even if you're not addicted to it, hydrocodone can cause liver and kidney damage, so watch yourself carefully for any odd symptoms. And especially watch out for cravings for the next pill, feeling that you need more than the prescribed dose, or unpleasant symptoms if you stop taking. They may be the old symptoms back again - the ones that drove you to the drug in the first place, or they may be withdrawal. Any of these are strong indications that a drug detox program is needed.
Rod MacTaggart is a Florida-based freelance writer who contributes articles on health.