Recent Developments Regarding Hydrocodone Drug Scheduling

A Drug Education Article Presented by Suncoast Rehab


Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opioid in the US and has recently gone under review by the Food and Drug Administration due to the large amount of abuse in the United States.

Before we discuss the recent news about hydrocodone, we wanted to talk about what hydrocodone is.

Hydrocodone, also known as hydrocodone bitartrate, comes from opium. It is a synthetic drug, which means it was made by man. Man took part of opium and changed it chemically in a laboratory. The result was hydrocodone. Because it is synthetic and part-opium, it is generally called an opioid. It, like many opioids, is most often prescribed for pain.

In the US, hydrocodone is not sold by itself, but is mixed with other drugs (usually acetaminophen – aka Tylenol – or ibuprofen) and can often be found in the brand-name drugs like Vicodin, Lorcet, Zydone, Vicoprofen, Norco, and Lortab. It can also be found in some cough medicines.

Since hydrocodone is mixed with other drugs to make the brand-name drugs, different drugs can have different side effects – for example, Vicodin also has acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) in it, and side effects of Tylenol include stomach problems. However, here are some of the side effects that are common to most drugs containing hydrocodone: low blood pressure, drowsiness, weakness, loss of consciousness, muscle pain or spasms, trouble breathing, confusion, depression, loss of appetite, kidney problems, mood changes, collapsed lung, hallucinations, anxiety, insomnia, addiction, and death.

Because hydrocodone is addictive, it gets sold on the street. Some of the street names for this drug are: Vike, Vic, Watson-387, Hydro, Norco. There are others.

When abused, it gives the user a feeling of extreme euphoria and sedation. It’s a “downer,” so it is very dangerous to mix with other drugs – especially other downers like alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, etc. Anything that will slow down a person’s breathing is dangerous to take with hydrocodone. It also does not mix well with anti-depressants, and it can cause unpredictable behavior in a person taking anti-depressants.

Hydrocodone by itself is a Schedule II drug, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. This is the same schedule/classification as other opioids like oxycodone, morphine, and codeine. But, as hydrocodone is only sold/prescribed in the US as a brand-name drug with another painkiller mixed into it, the classification is different. The drug that gets made (such as Vicodin) becomes a schedule III drug, because the hydrocodone is diluted, and Tylenol is considered far less addictive.

A vote recently occurred in an FDA advisory committee on whether or not Vicodin and other painkillers containing hydrocodone (currently schedule III drugs) should be moved up to schedule II due to the amount of people addicted to drugs containing hydrocodone.

While, from all reports, the vote to move drugs containing hydrocodone into the schedule II category was positive, there is still the decision process within the FDA. We hope the addictive drugs which have hydrocodone in them are restricted to schedule II, which will make them harder to access and restrict the type of doctors that can prescribe the drug.

It is very positive that the FDA is taking a step in addiction prevention by reducing access to drugs containing hydrocodone. However, what about those people who are already addicted to Vicodin or other drugs? We can help. If you know someone suffering from addiction to opioids or opiates, or if you are suffering from addiction, contact us today. You can call us confidentially at 866-572-1788 to learn more about our drug-free rehab techniques. We are here to help, so contact us today.