Managing your chronic pain could prove to be a tougher process starting this fall. The federal government is stepping up restrictions for prescribing hydrocodone.The new restrictions are part of an effort to cut down on abuse and dependency. This comes at a time when the number of lives lost to prescription drug overdoses continues to increase each year. According to the CDC, Oklahoma has the sixth highest rate of deaths linked to drug overdoses in the United States. While doctors like Dr. Brett Cauthen say the new D.E.A. restrictions have been a long time coming. "Part of our practice is helping people who are addicted to painkillers and have heard some horrible horrible stories of people overdosing and it's tragic every time that it happens because it's unintentional, it's young otherwise healthy people with a long life in front of them," said Dr. Brett Cauthen. So what do the restrictions mean for average Oklahomans using hydrocodone? Doctors will no longer be able to call in or fax over refills. A bill signed in to law last spring already prohibits Oklahoma doctors from offering refills on the same prescription."We look up every single person that brings a controlled drug into here we look up and see if they have filled it anywhere else and or how long ago they filled it," said Pharmacist Randy Matlock. Pharmacist Randy Matlock is already counting down to the deadline which will take place in about 40 days...and is prepared for a possible decrease in business."The legitimate people that need the medication are going to have a hard time getting it I'm sure," said Pharmacist Randy Matlock.Dr.Cauthen also worries like other health experts that people may turn to a powerful illegal drug as an alternative. "It might just shift people from taking pills to heroin which given the route that people take it, the injection route it's a lot more risky," said Dr. Brett Cauthen.
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