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The History of Hydrocodone

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Long before the drug Vicodin became a household name, there was the chemical hydrocodone.

The Development of Hydrocodone

First created in the 1920’s by German pharmaceutical company Knoll, hydrocodone was created by attaching a hydrogen atom to opium-based codeine molecules. When it was first released, Knoll believed that this process would make the codeine easier on the stomach and less toxic to the user.

US Capitol buildingDuring this time, medical and government officials in the United States were coping with a growing problem: Thousands of people across the country were becoming addicted to the opiate ingredients found in the most popular cough syrups on the market. This presented a real conundrum for drug regulators and drug manufacturers.

By the end of the 1920’s, the U.S. Bureau of Social Hygiene funded a study by the National Research Council to examine hydrocodone and other drug compounds as alternative, less-addictive painkillers.1

The National Research Council named renowned University of Michigan pharmacologist Dr. Nathan Eddy to head up the study. He studied the safety and side effects of hundreds of different drugs, including heavy-hitters, such as morphine, codeine and the up-and-coming chemical hydrocodone.

After a series of ethically-questionable tests on cats to determine the “analgesic” effect of the drugs, Eddy found hydrocodone was one of the most effective drugs in the study, effectively killing pain and producing fairly predictable side effects.

There was, however, a problem with hydrocodone. It created a tremendous euphoric effect in the animals studied. Eddy felt that the drug was powerful, but that it also held the potential to be highly addictive. In fact, he went on to say that it would be possible for an individual to become addicted to hydrocodone without even realizing it.

Despite Eddy’s findings, hydrocodone became a hit on the U.S. market. In the years that followed, the product, as in the case of Vicodin, grew in popularity as a pain reliever despite its addictive potential.2

The Current State of Hydrocodone

Currently, doctors face stiff penalties if incorrectly prescribing hydrocodone. Physicians are also coping with an addicted patient base, many of whom will lie about illnesses or doctor shop in order to gain access to additional prescriptions for the drug. As we move through the 21st century, hydrocodone addiction remains a growing dilemma in our communities and throughout the country.3

At Michael’s House, we understand the addictive allure of hydrocodone, what it means to be in the grasp of this highly addictive drug, and how best to deal with it. If you or your loved one’s life is being negatively impacted by this powerful drug, our caring professionals can help. Call us to begin the healing process today.


1 “Little Known Facts About the History of Hydrocodone.” Accessed 14 Nov. 2017.

2Life Without Vicodin?New York. 2 July 2009. Accessed 14 Nov. 2017.

3Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Can Physicians Prescribe Opioids to Treat Pain Adequately While Avoiding Legal Sanction?American Journal of Law & Medicine, Volume 42, Issue 1, Pages 7-52, 2016. Accessed 14 Nov. 2017.