Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Drug That's Got Hollywood Hooked; FEATURES

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Drug That's Got Hollywood Hooked; FEATURES

Article excerpt

Byline: ALISON ROBERTS;MOLLY WATSON

America's party set has a new addiciton. And this time it's a painkiller, available on prescription.

Alison Roberts and Molly Watson report

IT 'S the new LSD lead singer 's drug, said Courtney Love recently. "I know three lead singers doing [it] right now. Everyone who makes it starts popping them. I did it.I loved it. I also ended up in rehab. "

"It "is the white, oval-shaped, prescription-only painkiller Vicodin, available across the US. Yet Vike, as some call it, can be just as powerful and addictive as heroin. Hollywood,it seems, can 't get enough of it.

Vicodin was partly responsible for the recent return to rehab of Friends star Matthew Perry. Four years ago, Perry admitted to a problem with the painkillers he 'd been prescribed after injuring himself in a snowmobile accident:"My life had gotten to a point, "he said, "where I was getting sick if I didn 't take that pill. "But the addiction clearly proved stronger than the 28-day detox he underwent in 1997. Late last year Perry fired his "sobriety coach "a kind of moral and psychological bodyguard and, shortly after, a bottle of Vike was discovered in his onset trailer. His return to rehab was duly booked.

But Perry and Love are not alone.

Many more US actors have admitted addiction. Melanie Griffith and Johnny Cash have been frank about their problem. The rap star Eminem has neither admitted nor denied abusing the drug, but has a pill tattoo on his left bicep, and incorporated a Vicodin tablet into the artwork of his debut CD, The Slim Shady LP.

There 's no doubt it 's widely available and widely used. Some doctors warn that Vike is fast replacing cocaine as the drug of choice in hard-partying circles. The respected magazine US Details goes one further:Los Angeles is "comfortably numb again, "it says. Hollywood is once more the Valley of the Dolls.

VICODIN is the trade name for a synthetic drug, part narcotic, part acetaminophen, which delivers an opium-like effect a euphoric high combined with a feeling of enormous wellbeing. It 's prescribed for mild to moderately severe pain, but it also keeps the world at bay:Courtney Love says it is "smooth and sweet ".

It is not available in Britain. A Department of Health spokeswoman says that such "opioid analgesics " are classed as "controlled drugs "and their use is limited, making it unlikely that Vicodin will be widely used here any time soon.

In America, users have found that the more you take it, the more you need.

Heavy abusers, those taking up to 80 pills a day, are at serious risk of liver and heart damage, blood problems, double vision and, at worst, coma.

"It 's the equivalent of taking legalised heroin, "LA addiction specialist Dallas Taylor told US Weekly. …

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