Oxycodone was favored by 45% of prescription drug abusers and hydrocoone preferred by another 30% of the more than 3,500 people in 160 different drug treatment centers questioned for the survey, which was done by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Nova Southeastern University in Miami. The research is published in the current issue of the journal PAIN.
When prescribed, these medications are to be taken orally, but 64% of oxycodone abusers and just over 25% of hydrocodone abusers preferred to crush the tablets and inhale the drug. About one fifth of oxycodone abusers reported that they dissolved the drug in water and injected it. Less than 5% reported taking hydrocodone intravenously.
Oxycodone was attractive to those who enjoy taking risks and prefer to inject or snort drugs to get high, such as young, male drug users, while hydrocodone is the more popular choice among women, older people, people who don’t want to inject drugs and those who prefer to get their drugs from a doctor or friend rather than a drug dealer.
“Opioids are prescribed to treat pain, but their misuse has risen dramatically in recent years,” said principal investigator Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, a Washington University researcher who studies prescription drug abuse. “Our goal is to understand the personal characteristics of people who are susceptible to drug abuse, so we can detect problems ahead of time.”
Oxycodone is commonly sold under brand names such as OxyContin and Percocet. Hydrocodone is the chemical name for the opioid in the drug sold as Vicodin, among other brand names.