Pure hydrocodone possibility concerns recovering addict and addiction expert

A stronger form of a commonly-abused prescription drug may be headed to the market.

Hydrocodone is prescribed to relieve pain, but it's highly addictive and often abused.

Right now, the drug is always mixed with another drug, many times acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol.

But now, drug makers want to make a pure form of hydrocodone which has recovering drug addicts and drug addiction experts on alert.

"It's destroyed a lot of people lives. I had a lot of friends that's overdosed," said a recovery addict. He asked NewsChannel 15 that he remain anonymous because he doesn't want those who know him to know what he's gone through.

He was prescribed another drug, Oxycontin, after back surgery, and he was hooked right off the bat. "I lost everything. My house, my boat."

"That's all you can think about it," he said. "It's been a constant struggle since I've been out of rehab...If this hits the market, people will use that like crazy."

Shoreline Behavioral Health Services Director John Coffin said opiod cases at his rehab clinic in Conway increased 43 percent between 2009 and 2010, and this move by the drug companies could make that worse.

"What they're doing is providing another option for people to get extended pain management with this time released version of Hydrocodone," said Coffin. "The downside is it puts another drug for with high potential for abuse on the market."

"Hydrocodone is usually prescribed as a quick acting, something that if you sprain your ankle and that is sometimes how people get addicted to it. But it is difficult to take large quantities of it because of the potential liver toxicity with the tylenol.

Without Tylenol, it creates a greater potential for abuse. "It removes a deterant to taking large doses of it, and it makes it more marketable for people have a tolerance. So it becomes a more marketable drug for abusers."

The pure hydrocone pill still needs final approval from the Food and Drug Administration. If approved by the FDA, the drug is expected to be released in early 2013.