My Story: New Hydrocodone Rules Hurting Patients

My Story: New Hydrocodone Rules Hurting Patients

The new DEA rules for hydrocodone have been in effect for a little over a month and it has really been hurting those of us that need these medicines to deal with chronic pain and illnesses.

Patients now have to get a written prescription for hydrocodone on special paper that cannot be copied or manipulated — instead of one submitted by phone, fax or email. Refills are also prohibited. Patients have to check in with their doctors on a monthly or weekly basis to get a new prescription. Once the prescription is ready, only the patient or their designated caregiver can pick it up.

These new rules cause extra stress on patients, because we have to do more work and depend on more people to get the medicine we need to live a productive and pain managed life. It also means more stigma of being considered a drug addict.

In order to get hydrocodone we have to make constant phone calls, send emails and talk to judgmental medical professionals countless times. Some pharmacies claim they no longer have hydrocodone in stock, forcing many patients to drive many miles and go to multiple pharmacies to get what they need.

Rebecca Fortelka

Rebecca Fortelka

I suffer from cerebral palsy and over 35 chronic pain conditions and illnesses. Hydrocodone is one of the only pain medicines I am not allergic to nor react to in a negative way. So it is vital that I get the pills so I can go about my daily life.

I brought up the rescheduling back in July with the nurses at my primary care doctor’s office. Those nurses did not know anything about the changes that were coming, but promised to let me know when they knew more.

Only on October 5, the day before the rescheduling took effect, did I get an odd mass email from the doctor with an article explaining the new rules.

At the time, I was running out of medicine and needed a renewal of the prescription. My pain was spiraling out of control as I was rationing meds to prevent being out of them.

I contacted the doctor via email and called several times. It took them 4 weeks to finally get the hard copy prescription for me to pick up, which we dropped off at the pharmacy.

We then get a call several days later from the pharmacist saying they were out of hydrocodone and did not know when they will get in a new supply. My mom then had to get the hard copy prescription from the pharmacy and take it to another one.

That pharmacist told us that the prescription was filled out incorrectly and they could only accept it this one time, and that I would need to notify the doctor of the error.

When I addressed the errors with the nurses, I was accused of being pushy and wanting more medicine – which I felt was an implication that I was a drug abuser.

I do not want to take these pills and I would do anything to not have to live with these chronic conditions. I also wish that medical professionals would stop accusing people when they do not understand what each patient goes through.

I understand that DEA is trying to make sure that people do not abuse hydrocodone. But it is really hurting those of us that need the medicines and have to deal with extra stressors we shouldn’t have to.

If you login into any chronic pain support group online you can see many heartbreaking stories of people suffering from the new rules. I wish the medical community would see the human side of treatment and help erase the stigma of chronic pain patients abusing medicines.

12_7.jpgRebecca Fortelka lives in northern California, where she is a freelance writer and web designer. 

National Pain Report invites other readers to share their stories with us.

Send them to

The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

Authored by: Rebecca Fortelka

newest oldest
Notify of

lisa, did you discuss increasing your medication the last time you saw your Dr ? Normally, you can’t get an increase without seeing the Dr.

lisa casebolt

I have same problem I can only get 30 of the hydrocodone I have called my doctor and all they say Is deal with it it’s not our problem I don’t have the money to see him every month I have no insurance and can’t afford it my husband is the only one working and they don’t have insurance were he works don’t know what to do anymore


steve, do your drs give you other pain meds, but won’t give you what you were on before ? What reasons do they give ? Is your insurance private or Medicaid ? Do your new drs have your medical records from your previous drs ?

On pain meds for years,they work. lost insurance so they took me off of them. now don’t leave house because of insurance back but new doctors will not give them back to me. 22 months now with quality of life taken from me all because of 2 pills a day. still trying but it is not right.
need advice please, someone.

Hurting all the time

I suspect we will see a rise in Heroin and street drug addiction and overdoses. It’s so sad.


I have avoided having to be on hydrocodone but one of my meds just got bumped up and got classed after being on it for 10 years. I understand as I have a cousin who is a former heroin abuser but I do agree we need to get relief and not be labeled. I was just switched over to an extended release version of my med and I can’t believe how much it helps versus the IR version. My blood levels don’t go up and down. My doctor post-dates my perscription so we don’t have to go back every month. Also a “designated caregiver” doesn’t have to pick it up. Thank fully our pharmacy knows my mom and I, but I have had my ex pick up my meds when we were dating with no issue

I have already been experiencing this for many years, as hydrocodone is not strng enough to help because of my high tolerance to opiates and any other type of pain reliever. Something that you may want to consider, if you deal with constant pain, 24/7 would be the duragesic or fentanyl patches. They help my reliance on oral medicines to be kept at a minimum for breakthough pain only. In fact, there are times when I can do without the oral because of the patches. Good luck and God bless you as you travel the road that so many of us have already traveled. I don’t give any hope to the possibility of the government changing or relaxing any of the regulations.In fact, I had found a level of oral meds that had kept me fairly comfortable and was beginning to wean off of the patches when the federal guidelines caused my treating pain management Dr to tell me that we had to start reducing the amout of pills I got each month as the firm made a decision to limit the total amount or limit on this medicine. Despite the fact that because of my tolerance and metabolism, he had found thr right amount. We still were ordered to reduce to a one size fits all amount. So keep praying and I truct that God will lead us both to where He would have us be in our constant struggle to live a life that is at least more bearable, compared to other human beings.

This is the way it is for everyone now that has the misfortune of developing some type of chronic pain disorder, or in Rebecca’s case. over 35 of them. It’s to the point where you’re working a ridiculous amount to get a minimum amount of pain medication. It is often the case that you can find these drugs readily available on the street if you want to pay the price. How can that be?

How is it that legitimate pain patients cannot get their medications, first the battle with the doctor and the staff there and then the second battle, the pharmacy, yet drug dealers are finding the stuff seemingly with ease.

When we get the answer to this, perhaps the chronic pain patients will be let off the hook and the DEA can do their REAL job and get rid of those that sell illegal drugs.


Federal Law states that your dr can write you 3-30days rxs of a Schedule II at an office visit. It also states you must see your dr at least once every 90 days. If your dr and pharmacy have approved software, Schedule II rxs can be handled electronically.

It is your drs choice for you to have to come in and/or contact his office as often as you do. Federal Law says nothing about who can pick up a Schedule II rx from a drs office or pharmacy. Although for obvious reasons, not just anyone can walk in and pick it up. But a call to the drs office should correct this. At the pharmacy, the person may have to have your State Issued ID and also present their State Issued ID and sign for the rx.

You need to diiscuss this with him and see if you can’t work something out. In your case, the change in classification of hydrocodone combination meds has only affected you being able to get refills on your original rx, if I understand you correctly. You also need to check your State Laws governing Schedule II prescriptions. If your State Laws are the reason for some of your problems, you need to contact your state legislators about changing the laws. When you’re dealing with State and Federal Laws regarding this, the one that is the more stringent applies.

Questions and Answers - Issuance of Multiple Prescriptions for Schedule II Controlled Substances-

Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances Clarification-