Type of drug: opioid
Used to treat: pain
Number of prescriptions in 2010: 131.2 million
Number of prescriptions in 2009: 128.2 million
Vicodin is prescribed to treat chronic pain, which affects 20% to 30% of adults and is twice as common in women as in men. The pill is also commonly prescribed to treat pain following dental procedures. Though drug misuse may account for part of the reason that hydrocodone is so popular, fewer than 3% of people prescribed opioids for chronic pain actually develop new addictions.
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Do NOT let your doctor get away with refusing to prescribe pain pills "because you might become addicted" -- most people who "might" can be predicted because they have addictive personalities. For the rest of us, it's perfectly safe, and can avoid worse problems developing later.