Prescription opioids are abused more often than any other drug, both legal and illicit. Drugs like oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) can be acquired with relative ease from doctors and on the black market. Oxycodone is a stronger drug than hydrocodone, so it makes sense that a study of opiate addicts going to substance abuse treatment facilities choose oxycodone over hydrocodone.
3,520 people who abused opioids took part in the study which found that 44.7 percent of patients favored oxycodone, while 29.4 percent preferred hydrocodone. 75 percent of opioid addicts use either oxycodone or hydrocodone, Science Daily reports.
Ninety percent of the study participants said they used prescription opioids to alter their mood. Only 50 of oxycodone users and 60 percent of hydrocodone users said they also were treating pain with the medications.
Researchers found that people who abuse oxycodone tampered with the drug more often than hydrocodone users, enabling them to inject or inhale the medication. Hydrocodone has additives like acetaminophen (Tylenol) that make it less desirable to tamper with.
“The data show that hydrocodone is popular because it is relatively inexpensive, easily accessible through physicians, friends, and families, and is perceived as relatively safe to use, particularly by risk-averse users,” researcher Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a news release. “This group includes generally risk-averse women, elderly people, non-injectors, and those who prefer safer modes of acquisition than dealers, such as doctors, friends, or family members. In contrast, we found that oxycodone is much more attractive to risk-tolerant young male users who prefer to inject or snort their drugs to get high and are willing to use riskier forms of diversion despite paying twice as much for oxycodone than hydrocodone.”
It has yet to be seen if the release of the pure hydrocodone drug Zohydro will tip the scales on prescription opioid popularity. One thing's for sure, Zohydro will be heavily abused just like its predecessors and more than likely it will be tampered with like oxycodone.
The findings are published in the journal Pain.
Labels: abuse, drugs, hydrocodone, opiates, opioids, oxycodone, oxycontin, prescription-drugs, research, researchers, study, substance-abuse, treatment, vicodin, Zohydro