In fall 2014, the DEA reclassified hydrocodone, the main ingredient in Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet and other commonly used pain medications, into a more tightly controlled category. Patients can get up to a three-month supply but no refills are allowed. Patients must visit their doctors when they need more. Before the change, hydrocodone-containing drugs were the most commonly prescribed medications — and among the most commonly abused.
The Institute of Medicine estimated in 2011 that 100 million US adults suffer from pain that never ends, often the result of injury, disease, or dysfunction of the nervous system.
In a recent Boston Globe article, Dr. Daniel P. Alford states, “Opioids absolutely harm some patients. But they absolutely help some patients.” He is a Boston University School of Medicine addiction specialist who directs the school’s Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education program.
Alford decried what he called “opioid phobia” and “blanket regulatory changes that treat everybody the same.”