Devil’s Advocate: Education is more important than regulation in prescription drug debate

In Devil's Advocate, Opinion
Courtesy of MCT
Courtesy of MCT

The Food and Drug Administration does not need to reclassify hydrocodone (Vicodin) as a Schedule II drug when they could spend more time educating the public on preventing overuse and overdose.

The FDA is holding hearings on whether or not to raise the narcotic level of hydrocodone from Schedule III to Schedule II. The rating is mainly used to determine the possibility of abuse or dependency.

By comparison, LSD and Marijuana are Schedule I drugs with the highest rank. These drugs seem to make their way into the average college party or rave even with the highest regulation rank.

As it stands, hydrocodone is in the same class as anabolic steroids. If the FDA agrees to increase hydrocodone to Schedule II then the drug would be classified with drugs such as cocaine and methadone. Despite this, people still find ways to get cocaine and meth.

In most cases an average person can assume that the people snorting cocaine or smoking meth were told one statement: “Drugs are bad, mkay.” This is hardly the way to control such substances. The weekly newsletter for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, suggests the proper way to deal with opiate overdoses is to stop the high dosage users and people who see multiple doctors for prescriptions.

“These data suggest that prevention of opioid overdose deaths should focus on strategies that target 1) high-dosage medical users and 2) persons who seek care from multiple doctors, receive high doses, and likely are involved in drug diversion,” states the report.

The answer is simple when looked at from an academic point of view. Every person reading this paper was taught a concept at one point in their lives: Prescription drug safety is a concept that needs to be taught just as reading or writing is a concept that that needs to be taught.

And simply, if the FDA passes this new regulation some people may not be able to cope with the pain they feel on a daily basis.

Vicodin is prescribed for patients feeling moderate to severe pain. It saves people the torment of the aches after a surgery or a bad accident. There are many people who use Vicodin for back spasms or to relieve pain from a fractured foot.

Most of us have had our wisdom teeth pulled out—I was one of those people. I took Vicodin while the pain of having my teeth ripped out of my mouth was still lingering.

The prescription ended and that was the end of the Vicodin; I was taught not to overuse a prescription drug that could lead to addiction by my doctor and parent before my surgery took place.

According to the CDC, 55 percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers received what they were given from a friend. Doctors prescribed the meds to these people 17.3 percent the of time.

If there is more regulation on how the public gets Vicodin, wouldn’t it be assumed that the average person could call someone to buy it from?

Hydrocodone’s increase to Schedule II status falls under the larger drug debate. Americans aren’t educated on the proper uses and how to prevent addiction with prescription drugs. American’s aren’t usually taught how to avoid general drugs; that is, outside of the D.A.R.E. presentation kids sit through in elementary school.

Education can prevent all these problems from spiraling out of control. If parents would teach their kids to be safe, then there would be less cause for alarm.

There are always going to be people who take things too far and abuse a product. Regulation is just another way to get out of having an actual conversation about how to use a product.

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