FDA Revises Warning on Cold Medicines Containing Opioid Ingredients

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Written by: on 12th January, 2018

Cough and cold medicines that contain opioid ingredients like codeine and hydrocodone are no longer recommended for use in children under the age of 18, says the FDA. The FDA is requiring that revisions be made to safety labels on these medications to reduce exposure to opioids among U.S. children, and to help improve nationwide opioid addiction rates in the midst of a deadly ongoing epidemic.

Revising Medicine Labels to Prevent Opioid Exposure

Cold Medicines

In its recent press release, the FDA states that using opioid-containing medicines to treat coughs and colds in children poses serious risks to an already vulnerable population. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. says it’s critical to protect children from unnecessary exposure to medicines that contain codeine or hydrocodone, and that it’s entirely possible for parents to treat their children without using these products. Going forward, opioid-containing medicines will have labels that indicate use only for adults over the age of 18, and will also contain an additional warning about the risks associated with opioid exposure — including abuse, misuse, addiction, overdose, and death.

The FDA states that the risks of using opioid-containing cold medicines in children far outweigh potential benefits, and that these medicines can produce adverse side effects including shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Parents of children who are currently using opioid-containing medicines are encouraged to speak to their doctors right away to discuss alternate treatment options. The FDA’s required warning label changes are based on a number of studies, reviews, and data that explore the uses and benefits of opioid-containing cold products for children.

Early Exposure to Opioids and the Risk for Addiction

Early exposure to drugs and alcohol is a top risk factor for addiction alongside genetics and environment. The earlier a child is exposed to drugs like opioids, the higher their risk for suffering drug dependence and addiction later in life. Early exposure to drugs like codeine and hydrocodone can alter a youth’s developing brain, and increase the risk for other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

Though many opioid-containing cough and cold medicines may contain low doses of codeine and hydrocodone, these doses can still increase the risk for dependence, especially when used regularly or long-term. Plus, recent studies have shown that when it comes to treating pain, over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen are just as effective at offering pain relief as opioids. The FDA also points out that coughs due to the common cold and upper respiratory infections typically do not require treatment — especially that in the form of opioid-containing medicines.

Getting Help for Opioid Dependence

Opioid dependence can develop in any child, teen, or adult who uses opioids — regardless of whether a person is using opioids for medical reasons or for recreation. Most opioids including hydrocodone are defined as Schedule II drugs that carry a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. Using opioids for more than a few days can often lead to dependence, which can be safely and effectively treated at a drug detox center.

Drug detox centers use treatments that help you comfortably overcome opioid dependence without suffering cravings and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain, nausea, and insomnia. Opiate detox treatments can either be quick and last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, or can take place over the course of several weeks or months so you can detox from opiates more slowly and gradually at your own pace. A medical detox, rapid detox, and medication-assisted treatment are all opiate detox treatments that can help you become healthier and addiction-free.

If you need help fighting opioid dependence, call our 24/7 confidential helpline right away at 800-483-2193 to speak to an addiction specialist. We’ll discuss all your options for opiate detox, and help you find the nearest drug detox center ready to help you achieve long-term sobriety.