Zohydro Painkiller Could Lead to Heroin Addiction
According to Dr. Oz there’s a new painkiller called Zohydro that is so addictive that it has been found to drive patients to heroin addiction.
“Today, a big change in the medical community that has me scared—I’m talking about a new prescription painkiller so addictive that dealers are already giving it street names. It’s called ‘Zohydro,’ says Dr. Oz as he tells viewers why they should be concerned about this new potent painkiller that their doctor may prescribe for them for treating their back pain.
Zohydro is a concentrated pure form of the opioid-based painkiller hydrocodone that is well known for its ability to effectively dull serious pain. Although FDA-approved, this new painkiller has many in the medical community worried because it is expected to further increase the number of patient overdose deaths that has quadrupled since 1999.
“This drug is so controversial that doctors across America are urging the FDA to reverse the approval to release it on the market,” says Dr. Oz.
Dr. Oz explains that the attraction of many hydrocodone painkillers is that they not only dull pain, but also cause feelings of euphoria. Vicodin and Lortab are two popular painkiller examples of which each contains 10 milligrams of hydrocodone. Zohydro, however, is much more potent containing 50 milligrams of hydrocodone. In other words, taking a single Zohydro capsule is equivalent to popping 5 Vicodins.
“Zohydro is virtually pure hydrocodone,” says Dr. Oz.
With Dr. Oz is special guest Sanjay Gupta, M.D. chief medical correspondent for CNN who tells viewers that it can be a difficult balancing act when deciding between the benefits of pain relief over the risk of addiction. He tells viewers that the U.S. is the number one user and abuser of pain medications.
“Eighty percent of the World’s pain medications are consumed in this country―we like our pills in this country and we go to them very, very quickly. Accidental death from prescription overdoses is more than that of car accidents in terms of preventable deaths in this country. So, we are paying the consequences for having so many of these pills out there,” says Dr. Gupta.
Dr. Oz tells viewers that one way Zohydro is abused by some people is by crushing the pill into a powder that is absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream in what could be a lethal dose for that person.
And even if the dosage is not enough to be lethal, continued use of pain killers can lead to erectile dysfunction as a potent sex killer.
“You can snort this, you can do all sorts of things with this that weren’t meant to be done,” says Dr. Oz. Dr. Gupta added that simply crushing a Zohydro pill makes it into a dangerous recreational drug telling viewers this was how OxyContin―also known as “Hillbilly Heroin”―got its start years ago as an abused prescription medical drug.
So what’s the connection between Zohydro and becoming a heroin addict? According to both Dr. Oz and Dr. Gupta, Zohydro is what it referred to as a “gateway drug” that starts the addiction process—especially when a doctor tells a patient that he cannot have any further refills for his or her past Zohydro prescription.
“People don’t realize that these pain medications and heroin both come from the opium plant. So, if people can’t get their pain pills anymore…they can actually turn to heroin, a street drug which is widely available, does the same thing, and is actually cheaper,” says Dr. Gupta.
Dr. Oz states that new research has shown that 4 out of every 5 new cases of heroin addiction actually begin with painkiller abuse.
According to Dr. Gupta, this addiction typically starts out as someone coming into a doctor’s office with back pain for which he or she is given pain meds for relief. Unfortunately, too often this leads to more pain as the body builds a tolerance for the pain meds which then leads to higher doses to get the same effect as when the pain meds were started.
“Thirty-six months after that―on average―is when that person will die from a prescription drug overdose,” says Dr. Gupta.
So why did the FDA approve such a potent and potentially addictive painkiller? According to a statement by the FDA, the benefit of having a drug like Zohydro is that it gives doctors a choice for treating pain that is very high in patients without the risk of liver toxicity that can come from having to take an increased number of less potent opioids that contain acetaminophen.
Dr. Oz concludes this episode by telling viewers that his opinion is that while pain medications are needed in some cases that he believes that ones like Zohydro are too potent and put too much risk on patients.
For an informative article about pain, click-on the titled link, “Consumer Reports Top Pain Med Advice You Don't Want to Miss.”