Hydrocodone-based painkillers like Vicodin will be reclassified more stringently by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), according to The Wall Street Journal. The rules require patients with an ongoing prescription for the drug to receive no more than a 90-day supply before having to get a new prescription. This ruling was a decision based on the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that said tighter restrictions on these drugs was advocated. More specifically hydrocodone combination products were reclassified from a schedule III to a schedule II substance.

Countering Prescription Drug Abuse

The goal of the change in classification for hydrocodone-based painkillers is the limitation of abuse of the drug. Previously a Schedule III substance, patients were able to access up to five refills on their prescription that can cover up to 180 days without seeing a doctor for reassessment. Now, patients will be required to get no more than 90 days of their prescription at a time and hand the pharmacist a prescription — it can no longer be phoned or faxed in. However, these are the federal requirements. Some states have more stringent rules.

Michele Leonhart, a DEA administrator, said in a news release, “Almost 7 million Americans abuse controlled-substance prescription medications, including opioid painkillers, resulting in more deaths from prescription drug overdoses than auto accidents. Today’s action recognizes that these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available.”

Connecting With Treatment

Law enforcement, regulatory agencies, the medical community and the substance abuse treatment community have all been working together to come up with new ways to protect patients and stem the rising tide of addiction. Unfortunately, while this measure may serve to stop new patients from developing an addiction that goes unnoticed by providers, it will not necessarily help to connect those who are living with an active opiate dependence with the treatment they need to heal.

Many of the new regulations regarding limiting access to opiate painkillers have caused many addicts to find drugs elsewhere – often in the form of heroin.

If your loved one is struggling with opiate dependence, don’t wait to get help. Here at The Recovery Village, we are standing by to assist you. We can help your family member get started on the path to recovery with detox and comprehensive addiction treatment. Contact us today to learn more.

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