One of the top selling drugs in the U.S. is the narcotic pain medication, hydrocodone. Hydrocodone has created a silent epidemic of problems in our country that is recently being addressed by the F.D.A. This addictive pain medication is linked with numerous side effects including sedation, major gastrointestinal problems and death. Hydrocodone prescription diversion has become a serious burden on society. This street drug has flooded emergency rooms with overdoses, destroying families, causing serious financial burden on the “healthcare” system and resulting in accidental deaths.
Hydrocodone is commonly paired with another pain medication, acetaminophen. Common names of this combination is Vicodin™ and Norco™. Acetaminophen is responsible for a plethora of problems including liver failure, more than 100,000 calls to poison control annually, and greater than 60,000 emergency rooms visits and numerous deaths every year.
With the epidemic abuse and misuse of this narcotic medication, the F.D.A. will be moving it to a more tightly controlled scheduled medication this December. This will impose new restrictions on prescribing, dispensing and use. This will undoubtedly cause physicians and pharmacist to devote more time and concomitantly drive healthcare cost higher to utilize this medication.
Gastrointestinal health is a reflection of overall health status. Hydrocodone can cause a condition that is rarely talked about in the news but is well known amongst gastroenterologist. This condition is called “narcotic bowel syndrome” and it manifests itself in numerous ways including pain, chronic constipation, nausea, bloating and abdominal distention. Over time this condition makes it impossible for the gastrointestinal tract to function and creates a multitude of health problems for the patient. Medication can be prescribed and sometimes surgical procedures to maintain bowel function.
With the side effects and statistics in mind, is there a better method to treat pain than resorting to narcotics? Yes, of course there is. There are many naturally occurring substances that inhibit inflammation and pain, but only a very small amount of the population know or understand this. Frankincense (boswellia), methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), tart cherries, and ginger can have a dramatic impact on pain. Instead of narcotic medication that can cause drowsiness, gastrointestinal problems, and other adverse events, these natural products aid in detoxification. Whereas anything that creates constipation is causing a toxic accumulation in the colon and body.
The new law will probably result in the drug being prescribed less and rendering it more cumbersome for drug dealers to obtain it. As an unexpected result of the drug rescheduling, it might draw more people who experience pain to look into natural therapies that can help manage their pain.
– Chris McMullen Pharm. D., RPh