Menu
1-888-835-9428

Navigation

1-877-524-5885

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug abuse is taking a medication that was prescribed for yourself or another in a manner or dosage other than what was prescribed. Abuse can include taking a friend's or relative's prescription to get high, to help with studying, or even to treat pain. Listed below are the most commonly abused prescription drugs:

  1. Stimulants: Stimulants are prescribed to increase alertness, attention and energy in patients with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy and, occasionally, depression. Stimulants increase blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. Prescription stimulants, such as dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta) work by stimulating the norepinephrine and dopamine chemicals in the brain and increasing dopamine activity. Stimulants often improve mood, relieve anxiety and may induce a sense of euphoria, which makes them highly addictive. Stimulants are commonly abused for recreational purposes and performance enhancement to achieve weight loss and increase energy. To achieve a greater high, stimulant abusers often crush up the pills and snort or inject them. Stimulant abuse can cause serious health consequences, such as rapid or irregular heartbeat, heart failure, delirium and digestive problems.
  2. Opioids: Opioids are commonly prescribed to treat pain because of their strong analgesic effects, but these powerful drugs can be highly addictive when abused. Opioids include a wide variety of prescription narcotics, including morphine (Kadian, Avinza), codeine, oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet) and other related painkillers. Morphine is typically used before and after surgeries to alleviate severe pain, whereas codeine is prescribed for mild pain and may be used to relieve coughs and diarrhea. Opioids work by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract and block the perception of pain. They can cause drowsiness, nausea and constipation, in addition to producing a sense of euphoria by stimulating the pleasure regions of the brain. It's this euphoric feeling that makes opioids the most popular type of prescription drug to abuse. Many abusers will crush up opioids, such as OxyContin, and then snort or inject them to enhance their high, which consequently, increases their chances of an opioid overdose.
  3. Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are also within the CNS depressants family. These sedatives are prescribed to treat anxiety, acute stress reactions, panic attacks, convulsions, and sleep disorders. Common benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide HCl (Librium) and estazolam (ProSom), are generally prescribed for short-term relief to prevent abuse and dependence issues. Like barbiturates, benzodiazepines also affect the neurotransmitter gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA) to decrease brain activity and produce a drowsy or calming effect in anxious or restless people. People commonly abuse benzodiazepines to counteract the effects of other drugs. The drowsy, calming feeling of benzodiazepines is often enhanced when abusers take them with other prescription pills, OTC cold and allergy medications, and alcohol, which can lead to a slower heart rate and respiration and result in death. Also, discontinued use of CNS depressants in large doses can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms such as seizures.
  4. Sleep Medications: Prescription sleeping pills fall into the family of CNS depressants and are used to treat insomnia, when people have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. The most commonly prescribed sleeping pills to treat sleep disorders are zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata) and eszopiclone (Lunesta). Although these medications have similar side effects as the benzodiazepines, they are called nonbenzodiazepines because they are structurally different on a chemical level. Even though they appear to have a lower risk for addiction and doctors usually prescribe them for two weeks or less, they are frequently abused and can be highly addictive. People often become reliant on sleeping medications because they cannot fall asleep or stay asleep without them. Abusers may also become addicted to the drowsy and calming feeling caused by these sedatives.
  5. Muscle Relaxers: Muscle relaxers are prescribed to treat acute muscle problems and chronic pain that cause painful muscle spasms Muscle relaxers work by reducing muscle tone and relaxing tenseness, while others affect skeletal muscle fibers and nerves. Muscle relaxers offer temporary pain relief, but do not heal the problem. Much like other painkillers, muscle relaxers can be addictive because they offer pain relief, pleasure and an euphoric calmness. Those who abuse muscle relaxers may take more than the prescribed amount and mix it with other medications or alcohol to enhance their high.

If you or someone you know is abusing any of these commonly used prescription drugs, getting into a drug treatment program is your best option.

1-877-524-5885

FIND A DRUG REHAB

Facts

1-888-835-9428