How Cost and Availability Influence Hydrocodone Use

How Cost and Availability Influence Hydrocodone Use

Hydrocodone is a narcotic derived from the same plant as heroin and morphine, and it is used in brand name painkillers like Lorcet, Lortab and Vicodin, among others. In a 2011 report, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provided the following data on the use of opioids like hydrocodone:

  • The total number of opioid-based prescriptions was 76 million in 1991
  • This total soared to 210 million prescriptions by 2010
  • Hydrocodone made up approximately half of the 2010 opioid prescriptions
  • One in 12 high school seniors in 2010 admitted to non-medical Vicodin abuse in the past year

Millions of painkillers are produced for the public each year, mostly for medicinal reasons. However, many people abuse narcotics for their euphoric properties, so many people buy drugs illegally.

How People Buy Hydrocodone Illegally

The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) provides the following data on how people acquire painkillers for non-medical use:

  • 54.2% acquired the drug at no cost from a friend or relative
  • 18.1% got a single prescription from a doctor
  • 1.9% got prescriptions from multiple doctors
  • 16.6% bought or stole painkillers from a friend or relative
  • 3.9% bought the drugs from a dealer or stranger
  • 81.6% of friends and relatives who provided painkillers got them from a single doctor

The aforementioned 2011 NIDA report also lists the following data on how high school seniors acquired painkillers:

  • 59.1% were given the painkillers by a friend or relative
  • 37.8% bought painkillers from a friend of relative
  • 32.5% received drugs through a prescription
  • 19.5% bought painkillers from a dealer or stranger
  • 18.8% stole drugs from a friend or a relative

Both the NIDA and NSDUH studies show that hydrocodone is more difficult to purchase online than other drugs. The NSDUH survey found that only 0.3% of its participants acquired the drug over the internet, while the NIDA data shows that only 1.1% of high school seniors purchased it online.

Impact of Hydrocodone Cost and Availability

Buying hydrocodone from dealers can be expensive, but most people acquire the drug through friends, relatives and doctors. This impacts cost in the following ways:

  • Health insurance often covers most or all of the cost for hydrocodone prescriptions
  • Medicinal users who dislike opiate effects often give away any remaining pills
  • People unintentionally allow free access to their drugs by storing them in unlocked medicine cabinets
  • Hospital or pharmacy staff might steal hydrocodone pills

If the drug is unavailable through friends or relatives, many hydrocodone users will fake pain to get a prescription, a practice known as “doctor shopping.”

Hydrocodone Abuse Treatment

Whether taken medicinally or recreationally, hydrocodone is highly addictive, so a physical dependence will develop with ongoing use. If an addiction takes hold, professional treatment can administer the following services:

  • Medically supervised detox that tapers use
  • Screenings and integrated treatment for concurrent mental health disorders
  • Therapies that improve mental and emotional activity
  • Strategies to avoid people, places and situations that trigger opiate cravings
  • Support group meetings to exchange thoughts, experiences and support

Holistic options are also available to treat ongoing pain and lingering withdrawal symptoms.

Help Quitting Hydrocodone Abuse

Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to discuss painkiller addiction treatment. Our admissions coordinators can answer your questions, recommend treatment facilities and even check your health insurance for treatment coverage. Please call now to begin your recovery today.