The Food and Drug Administration is recommending that new restrictions be placed on prescription painkillers containing hydrocodone.
The move by the FDA follows an ongoing debate between patients who need the narcotics for pain control and those who get the drugs and abuse them.
This change would try to curb abuse by reducing the number of refills patients could get, before going back to see their doctor.
It would also require having a written prescription rather than having the doctor call the pharmacy.
Chad Hallquist of Eau Claire said he came into L.E. Phillips Libertas Treatment Center in Chippewa Falls last week in an effort to end his drug use which includes opiates.
“I started out with friends that had them available, started out with that, Vicodins and moved up to bigger things,” Hallquist said.
“It was pretty much an escape from having to deal with reality.” “It was affecting pretty much every part of my life, and screwing things up pretty badly.”
He said the prescription drugs like Vicodin and other painkillers have kept him out of the lives of his children. He said even seeing friends die from overdose hasn't changed his habits.
After undergoing treatment, Hallquist said he hopes he's learned enough to end his addiction.
“I can't have any type of decent life while it's ongoing. I'd like to have some sanity and enjoy life again basically.”
Libertas Director Tom Fuchs said stories like Hallquist's have become more and more common.
“In 2007, when I moved to be the director, we were about 90 percent alcohol, in terms of the people who were detoxing. In 2013 today, we're about 45 percent alcohol, 45 percent opiates,” with meth amphetamine accounting for much of the remaining 10 percent.
He said he supports the FDA's decision to limit painkiller prescriptions with hydrocodone, and force patients to have a written prescription rather than having the doctor call the pharmacy.
“We're hoping and what we know happens is that, less young people start using it,” Fuchs said.
“It's definitely probably a good idea because drugs are rampant on the street, all over the place, you can find it,” Hallquist said.
Some doctors said they were concerned the change will make it harder for people with real pain issues to get needed medication.
Fuchs said it's important to bring old, unused prescriptions to drop off sites, to avoid abuse and environmental problems.