The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) October 2014 ruling to restrict painkillers containing hydrocodone was associated with an increase in illicit online drug trading, revealed a recent study. A team of researchers used a web crawler software to compare the sale of prescription drugs containing hydrocodone with other drugs sold on 31 different dark net or “cryptomarkets” from October 2013 to July 2016. They found that after the ruling to move hydrocodone products from Schedule III to Schedule II category, it had become more difficult for patients to obtain these drugs from pharmacies, pushing them to seek opioids from illegal online markets that led to the flourishing of online trade.
Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic medication often administered to treat severe pain due to injury or a surgery. Despite the benefits, frequent abuse of the drug can cause short-term and long-term damage to the mental and physical health of a person.
The report also found a change in the drug types being sold and purchased online with oxycodone representing a decrease in sales compared to fentanyl, which eventually became the second most popular prescription opioid bought from the dark web. According to the results, without the DEA’s scheduled change, sale of prescription opioids in the U.S. would have made 6.7 percent of all drug sales; however, after including the 2014 reclassification, the proportion of prescription drug sales increased to 13.7 percent of all drug sales in July 2016; approximately double the percentage of drug sales through the illicit marketplaces.
The study proves that although there may have been a decrease in legal prescriptions, the overall opioid consumption remained unchanged as patients often replenished the supplies via the dark net. The authors found no significant changes in the sale of illicit opioids, stimulants, sedatives or steroids.
Need for effective, evidence-based treatments to combat opioid crisis
The authors have suggested different strategies to reduce harm-related activities, such as informing users about the dangers associated with opioid use and taking steps to reduce over-prescribing of opioids. According to them, these steps could be employed before and after schedule changes to alleviate their negative effects.
The researchers also pointed that the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) recent decision to allocate double resources to combat drug sales on the dark web was unlikely to succeed and there is a greater need to execute and make available high-quality prevention and treatment programs for the affected. They also warned that the present opioid epidemic is more likely to worsen in the absence of evidence-based measures to cut the demand and reduce harm.
Recovery from addiction in safe environment
In America, opioid-related overdoses took away 116 lives each day in 2016 and the situation has worsened. Despite a number of steps taken to combat the epidemic, there seems to be no respite. At Sovereign Health, we understand how addiction can ruin lives and therefore, strive to offer the best care to those in need. Our team of experts offers evidence-based treatment for prescription drug addiction, including hydrocodone addiction at both our Pompano Beach and Fort Myers facilities. Based on a patient’s symptom and severity of addiction, treatment for hydrocodone addiction may involve detoxification followed by intense psychotherapies and counseling sessions by trained clinicians and psychologists in a safe, private and compassionate environment. For more information on our treatment programs or to locate our credible rehab centers near you, call at our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with our representatives.
Sovereign Health Group is a leading addiction, dual diagnosis and mental health treatment provider. Call our admissions team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get the help you deserve.