Prescription opioids are some of the most commonly abused substances in America. These opioids work by binding with opioid receptors in the brain. They bind to the same receptors that the bodies’ natural painkillers bind to. After prolonged opiate use, the body stops producing natural painkillers, resulting in opiate dependency. Opiates are such powerful narcotics that the body can become dependent on them even when they prescribed by a physician for the treatment of pain and are taken in the prescribed dosage.
Narcotic Fact Sheet: Vicodin, Lortab, and Lorcet
Vicodin, Lortab, and Lorcet are all brand names for the combination drug containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opiate. Usually, it is combined with non-opioid painkillers like acetaminophen to discourage recreational use and to increase the painkilling effects. Hydrocodone is also a cough suppressant, so it is used in many prescription cough medications.
While additives such as acetaminophen are added to hydrocodone products in part to discourage illicit use, the danger is that people who do abuse hydrocodone products may not be aware that they are taking high levels of acetaminophen. This can be very dangerous, and in many cases, long term hydrocodone abuse can cause liver problems because these drugs are toxic in high doses, and can even be fatal.
Another reason that hydrocodone is less likely to be abused than drugs like pure oxycodone, is that the metabolism of hydrocodone prevents it from alternate routes of administration like snorting and injection. This is because the main painkilling effect of hydrocodone use comes from its conversion to the much stronger opioid hydromorphone in the liver. When the drug is snorted or injected, it bypasses this metabolic process, so it actually results in a less strong effect. Also, because hydrocodone users must separate the hydrocodone from the acetaminophen additives before injecting it, some of the hydrocodone is lost in the process. Hydrocodone is also only about half as strong as oral oxycodone.
Narcotic Fact Sheet: Percocet
Percocet is the brand name of the combination drug containing oxycodone and acetaminophen. As with the hydrocodone combination products, acetaminophen is added to oxycodone to both potentiate the painkilling effects and to discourage abuse. Percocet comes in doses of 10/325 (10 mg of oxycodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen) or 5/325 (5mg of oxycodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen).Percocet is an oral medication.
Oxycodone is a powerful analgesic synthesized from thebaine, which is derived from the opium plant. It was developed in Germany in 1916 as an alternative to heroin, which had been outlawed a couple years prior. It was hoped that oxycodone would have the analgesic (pain-killing) power of heroin without the dependence issues. However, since its inception, oxycodone has been subject to abuse.
Narcotic Fact Sheet: Roxicodone
Roxicodone is the brand name of a drug that contains pure oxycodone; it does not contain ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin, like other oxycodone-containing products (i.e. Percodan, Percocet, and Tylox).Roxicodone pills generally come in 15 or 30 mg doses. It is an immediate release form of oxycodone, unlike the time-release form of the drug: OxyContin. Because it is pure immediate release, pure oxycodone, the potential for abuse of oxycodone is very high.