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Zohydro Painkiller Could Lead to Heroin Addiction

Tim Boyer's picture
Zohydro Painkiller

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.

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“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.

Dr. Oz urges viewers to seek other ways to treat pain that include physical therapy and from past episodes alternative methods some of which included magnetic therapy and or natural cures.

For an informative article about pain, click-on the titled link, “Consumer Reports Top Pain Med Advice You Don't Want to Miss.”

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Reference: The Dr. Oz Show



It is frustrating seeing the same misinformation and intentional distortion of the facts. Zohydro is an extended release medication that goes up to 50mg, while oxycodone ER goes up to 160mg per dose and morphine ER up to 200mg per dose. Zohydro is just hydrocodone without acetaminophen, unlike Vicodin which destroys your liver due to the acetaminophen. I suffer from chronic pain, so I have to use opioid medications. After multiple surgeries and every alternative treatment available, doctors can only try and manage my pain. Hydrocodone works well in my body, while other opioids (oxycodone, morphine) don't help much. Zohydro is a wonderful medication, because it greatly reduces my pain levels, allows me to live a mostly normal life and it is not destroying my liver because there is no acetaminophen. The logic employed by people like Dr. Oz is ridiculous! Heroin is illegal, yet is still abused by addicts and is cheaper than opioid pharmaceuticals. So the solution is to make Zohydro illegal?! Not only would it torture chronic pain patients, but it would not lower opioid abuse. Just to reiterate, making something illegal does not stop the abuse, e.g. heroin. Much of the fear-mongering about Zohydro is perpetuated by rival pharmaceutical companies. For example, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin's daughter is Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan Inc. Mylan is a pharmaceutical company that makes generic medications, including at least half a dozen STRONGER opioids like MS Contin and Opana, none of which have any abuse-deterrent technology. Mylan is Manchin's second biggest campaign contributor ($127,500), so unsurprisingly Manchin is trying to ban Zohydro. Finally, regarding the abuse-deterrent technology, there is only one medication approved with it and that is OxyContin. The problem, is that it is ineffective. You can easily learn how to bypass it by looking online, and even the FDA Commissioner testified three weeks ago that the technology does not currently exist to prevent the crushing of medication.
This is pure lack of compassion for human beings. And greedy political moves by one wanting to get the conservative vote. 99 percent have no clue what pain management is. It is the systematic build up of giving out opiates to people in pain. It takes many years to get up to the maximum dosage. And they give you just enough to manage your pain, not enough to get high. Some people think that this is all pain medication is for. Do you know why people turn to Heroin???? ANY CLUE? GUESS? How much does it cost to go the doctor and get a prescription for pain medication? I can tell you since I am in pain management. At advance stage it costs 90 dollars to see the doctor and get your prescriptions filled WITH insurance, and its BCBS. How many hits of Heroin can you get for 90 bucks? Not as many as Seymour Hoffman but a few. And to those who have lost their jobs and have to get Cobra insurance? Who is going to hire you when your writhing in pain at the interview? What choices do you have? Do you know 2500 people die every year from eating too many pain pills with Tylenol in them? And they don't give you pain medication after you OD on them from the Tylenol, they let you suffer and die in agony, if they don't get that special savior medication in you that will reverse the damage within 4 hours your toast. And they don't give OD patients new livers either so you will die regardless. Out of the other 12000 that die from pain medication, I can bet 25 percent to 50 percent of those people were not getting enough pain medications to manage their pain. I can bet that they wanted to go out of this world without being in pain any longer. I think there is a better way to manage pain, take the politicians of the world and get rid of all of them. Only allow panels of people in their own fields make the laws with oversight from the government. There will ALWAYS be someone that abuses medications. Some will pop anything they find lying on the ground. Some peoples lives are so bad that they don't care about themselves and no one will get through to them. Do not curse those in pain because of those who are not. Suffering has no boundaries, knows no color of skin, no gender, no hope. These medications let us live our lives as fully as we can without them we cannot move about. We would gladly take anything non narcotic if it did away with the pain, but there is no therapy, there is no special herb, pill, chiropractor, hypnotist, acupuncture that can do what the opiates do. And the people on them have tried ALL the rest of these without relief. I went to a chiropractor and he told me I could see him EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE and I would be no better. I went to therapy and they hurt me MORE. I hope everyone against pain meds gets kidney stones, I have had 10, and a batch where you have 5 or more in both kidneys and they have to put stents in you. Then you will understand pain and medication for it. Calling you more names wont help, might make me feel better but you deserve pain for lack of compassion.
I completely agree with everything you said I'm glad that there are people like you that stand up for what should be instilled for people like you and I and all the others in this world that live through pain everyday and there is no other option even after doing everything possible to resting, the heat/ice therapy, going through physical therapy for extended periods of time, herbal supplements, and all other potential ideas that are "sworn" to help, but do not. I do not wish my issues on any other person unless they truly deserve it but lets just say if they don't suffer yet have a neg opinion to your post or my comment, walk in our shoes for a hour, day, week, mo etc.. guarantee they will be considerably more open minded but there are always hypocrits and non believers and the one that believe preschool pk's are the wrong answer no matter the, they live in complete ignorance if all that's the only thing that one needs to get thru the day. I apologize for the ranting, your comment just hit me right and I 100% agree and support you, I just wish there were more people that were open minded rather than so one-wayish on this subject matter. Take care and god bless.
Completely agree. Drs. had me on loritabs & tramadol for years. Since new law, they stopped seeing me & referred me to pain clinic that my insurance does not cover. I am exhausted from being in pain without meds. I hardly can do my job & worry that I will have to quit due to my pain. I was not addicted, just out of pain living a normal life. I don't go anywhere anymore cause of pain. So have they caused those that are older like me 60 to resort to street market drugs just to be able to live a normal life at my age & for however many years I have left on this earth. Who wants to be around someone sitting in pain & no conversation cause they hurt & exhausted from the pain. So they may think they solved one issue, but they are creating another issue much worse.
I take five norcos a day and I am happy they are making a extended release without the tyenol it's about time, there is really no reason to put the tyenol in a strong pain med. Anyways they should also make a instant release without the tyenol too!
A big problem with pain medications is that they stop working. So that leads to more consumption and danger. Researchers are just beginning to understand how chronic pain works in the brain. Pain medication doesn't make it go away. The body "remembers" the pain, much like the phantom limb pain that happens with an amputation. We need better ways to treat chronic pain that just isn't being addressed by masking with dangerous drugs that destroy quality of life for many people. It is a slippery slope.
When you're in enough pain it affects your quality of life. Most chronic pain sufferers are fully aware of the potential consequences but the benefits outweighs these risks. I've been on Meds for a few years now and fortunately won't need Meds too much longer as I'm having advanced disc replacement. I do empathize with chronic pain patients as I can relate to their situation more than someone whose is concerned about a drugs addictive component. Yes people snort and inject these drugs but for those of us that use narcotics as prescribed it helps immensely.
Just picked up zohydro 10mg. I'm afraid to start taking it at night as I'm concerned it may cause insomnia. I really do like and respect Dr Oz but not everyone can treat chronic pain with PT or less potent drugs. I'm having advanced disc replacement next month and I won't be needing narcotics much longer. Not everyone is a candidate for this surgery and other surgeries like spinal fusion don't relieve pain 100%