Vicodin (and all other forms of Hydrocodone) Becomes a Schedule II Drug

Great news from the DEA. In 45 days, all forms of Hydrocodone will be reclassified from Schedule III to Schedule II. Its most common forms are Vicodin and Norco. A few years ago, Vicodin became the most prescribed drug in America. Not only is it highly prescribed, but it is also highly abused (and easier to get than schedule II painkiller and superking, Oxycodone). Drug users only complaint about it is that it is weaker than Oxycodone, so they just take larger doses of it.

In 2012, rumors about Zohydro’s introduction to the market started to float out of the mainstream press. Drug companies liked the idea of selling Zohydro because it is 10x as strong as regular Vicodin. This caused a great deal of concern and consternation among addiction treatment providers and some doctors. The FDA approved the drug for release in 2014, and almost immediately 29 states filed a complaint with the Federal Government. The approval of this drug by the FDA was incongruous with their statement in 2013 that Hydrocodone was dangerous and highly abused and should be moved to Schedule II.

The DEA Schedule of Drugs can be viewed here, but I’ll list them from their website. Clearly, there is a big difference between Schedule II and Schedule III (key parts bolded by me). It’s not a major victory that will cause a sea change in drug use, misuse, prevention or treatment, but it is a sound policy. Good job, US Government.

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:

heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:

cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are:

Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone

Gregory House, MD, was a fictional character on TV for eight years who was addicted to Vicodin. His drug use caused him a number of problems, but the TV show still glamorized much too much.