Limited access to hydrocodone pushes abusers to heroin

Limited access to hydrocodone pushes abusers to heroin

Amarillo, TX - After the DEA ruled to make hydrocodone a schedule two drug, some health officials became concerned abusers would find more dangerous ways to feed their addiction.

Now that hydrocodone isn't easily accessible, those who abused it aren't able to meet their addiction needs, which means they're turning to alternative drugs. Hydrocodone was scheduled as a class two drug in October after the DEA felt it was too easily abused. Now that the drug isn't as readily available, those who abused it are having to look elsewhere for something more affordable.

Ann Sanders, LDC, said the cost of the drug is increasing.

"Hydrocodone on the street is worth about 10 to 12 bucks a pill," Sanders said. "It went up as soon as the law changed from about $8 a pill to $10 to $12 a pill."

Patti Morris, LDC, said the switch to another drug is inevitable.

"The problem is once the Oxycontin becomes too expensive or the hydrocodone becomes too expensive, it's easy to switch over to black tar heroin, which is going to be cheaper," Morris said.

According to health officials, the rise in people using heroin has increased nationally as a direct result of the rescheduling of hydrocodone. Sanders said in Amarillo, heroin is becoming a lot easier to get, and said with a phone call it can be delivered in about 10 minutes.

Because heroin is cheaper and gives users the same high as hydrocodone, counselors said they expect a large increase with time. However, some counselors, such as Melissa Preece, LDC, aren't convinced this will be a problem.

"I think, that if anything, just because hydrocodone is going to be harder to get, I see people looking at other types of pain medication before venturing off into heroin," Preece said. "Chances are they're going to focus on other pain medications that they can get on the street."

Although counselors have opposing views, they can agree heroin use is extremely dangerous and one of the toughest addictions to overcome.