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Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) Addiction & Abuse Statistics

While many may associate the medication Hydrocodone with being used typically as a cough suppressant, it is in fact, a partially synthetic opiate that is used to control cough and also pain management. There are dozens of medications that use Hydrocodone. Like other opioid-based medications, there is a possibility for illegal drug abuse of the medication, which can lead to addiction. Read on to find out more about how Hydrocodone works and the abuse statistics surrounding the medication.

What is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is opioid based, but is also partially lab created. The opioid works by controlling certain receptors in the brain that govern pain. The analgesic potency of the drug is similar to that of Morphine. When Hydrocodone is used as a medication it is typically used as a combination drug, most frequently used with cough suppressants like codeine.

Prescription Drug Names for Hydrocodone:

Hydrocodone is in fact the most commonly prescribed opioid-based medication. It is included with many prescription name medications including – Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet. Other combination drugs include – ibuprofen (Vicoprofen), aspirin (Lortab ASA) and antihistamines (Hycomine).

Street names for the drugs include: Hydro, Norco and Vikes. Tablets, capsules and syrups are typically how drugs containing Hydrocodone are administered for both prescribed medical purposes as well as the street drug versions.

Hydrocodone Addiction and Abuse:

painkiller abuse stats

Unfortunately, like many other prescription drugs – especially those containing opioids – Hydrocodone can become addictive if abused by the user. This can (rarely) take place for patients using the drug for long-term pain relief purposes, but typically occurs when the drug is being abused intentionally for the purpose of reaching a high or by someone looking to self medicate.

Hydrocodone Abuse Statistics:

  • It is believed that an estimated 26 to 36 million people worldwide abuse opioids each year.
  • An estimated 2.1 million in the United States alone abuse opioid pain reliever medications.
  • The consequences of these addictions are ending in devastating results and the numbers of those impacted continue to rise.
  • The number of deaths related to overdose of an opioid drug in the United States have quadrupled since 2000.
  • Researchers on drug addiction believe there may also be a connection between illegal opioid medication abuse and heroin abuse. Because prescription drugs can be easier to obtain, and carry a different reputation among users, the number of opioid-related drug addiction cases continues to rise even faster than the previous numbers surrounding heroin abusers.
  • Hydrocodone is believed to be on the rise among drug abusers because it is only a schedule II medication, which means it is often prescribed by doctors. The more often it is prescribed, the more easily it can be obtained by those looking to find it. It is also considered more socially acceptable since it is a highly-prescribed drug by doctors, according to research by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
  • Statistics show that in 1991, there were 76 million prescriptions written for opioid medications like Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. That number has skyrocketed to 207 million in 2013 and continues to rise.
  • Other Hydrocodone addiction and abuse statistics indicate those abusing hydrocodone are more likely to ingest it orally rather than intravenously like other commonly-abused opioid medications like fentanyl.
  • Hydrocodone can be procured illegally through illicit internet sources, by “doctor shopping,” through friends and family and through the street drug market.
  • Most tragically, the number of deaths related to opioid drug deaths have tripled in the last 20 years reaching almost 17,000 overdose deaths from prescription opioids in 2010.

Many doctors and drug researchers are working to find a balance – one that will allow beneficial pain-relieving drugs to continue helping patients, but will also not become as easily sought after by those looking to achieve an illegal high. However, it is clear judging by the Hydrocodone addiction and abuse statistics listed above, the epidemic surrounding illegal opioid use is a major concern not just in the United States but worldwide.

If you, or someone you know, is abusing a drug like Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Lortab or any of other brand names for Hydrocodone, consult the help of a medical professional right away to begin the path to addiction recovery.


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