One of the most questionable drugs to come to market in many years is a new standout painkiller known as Zohydro ER (hydrocodone bitartrate). It has set off warnings in the therapeutic, law enforcement and drug rehabilitation recovery communities across the nation.
The drug itself isn’t new — it is made with hydrocodone, the opioid-based medication currently available in such drugs as Vicodin (which also contains the pain reliever acetaminophen). However, Zohydro comes in a much stronger prescription that is pure hydrocodone offered in a very powerful extended-release formula in capsule form.
Opioids and the brain
Zohydro is derived from opium made from the poppy plant. Opioids work by binding to receptor locates in the brain called opioid receptors. Ordinarily, when the body encounters pain, commonly occurring peptides such as endorphins and other chemicals, will bind to these receptor sites in order to decrease discomfort.
Opioids particularly enhance this process to eliminate pain, as well as activate the brain’s reward pathways, expanding the effect of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This causes a broad feeling of euphoria– which can cause users to become addicted.
It opens users up to increased risk of addiction, misuse, and abuse, which can lead to overdose or worst, even death. Each patient’s risk should be evaluated before prescribing, and even then they should be monitored consistently for development of these conditions.
Serious, life-threatening respiratory complications can occur so it is important that use of Zohydro is monitored closely, particularly upon initiation or after a dosage increase. Accidental use of Zohydro ER, especially in children, can cause a fatal overdose of hydrocodone.
For patients who require opioid treatment while pregnant, be mindful that infant may need treatment for neonatal opioid withdrawal disorder. Delayed use amid pregnancy can cause debilitating neonatal opioid withdrawal disorder.
It Kills People
Addiction specialists emphasize that the benefits do not outweigh the potential dangers produced by this painkiller. In view of its extremely high dose and absence of abuse deterrents, many agree Zohydro could easily ignite another addiction epidemic – and another wave of overdose deaths.