What is Prescription Drug Abuse:
Prescription drug abuse means taking a prescription drug that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Abuse of prescription drugs can produce serious health effects, including addiction.
Commonly Abused Drugs:
Commonly abused classes of prescription drugs include opioids (for pain), central nervous system (CNS) depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders), and stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy).
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin®)
- Oxymorphone (Opana®)
- Propoxyphene (Darvon®)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®)
- Meperidine (Demerol®)
- Diphenoxylate (Lomotil®)
Central nervous system depressants include:
- Pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal®)
- Diazepam (Valium®)
- Alprazolam (Xanax®)
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin® and Concerta®)
- Amphetamines (Adderall®)
oxy, cotton, blue, 40, 80 (OxyContin®)
Long-term use of opioids or central nervous system depressants can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Opioids can produce drowsiness, constipation and, depending on amount taken, can depress breathing. Central nervous system depressants slow down brain function; if combined with other medications that cause drowsiness or with alcohol, heart rate and respiration can slow down dangerously. Taken repeatedly or in high doses, stimulants can cause anxiety, paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, or seizures.
Statistics and Trends
In 2009, 16 million Americans age 12 and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Web Site). The NIDA-funded 2010 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 2.7% of 8th graders, 7.7% of 10th graders, and 8.0% of 12th graders had abused Vicodin and 2.1% of 8th graders, 4.6% of 10th graders, and 5.1% of 12th graders had abused OxyContin for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: Monitoring the Future (University of Michigan Web Site).
Prescription Drug Abuse Lesson Kit - A kit to educate teenage students about the health consequences of improper prescription drug use. The kit includes enough copies for 30 students.
Order Individual Publications:
- Prescription Drugs of Abuse Chart
- Efforts of the National Institute on Drug Abuse to Prevent and Treat Prescription Drug Abuse (Testimony to Congress)
- NIDA for Teens: Prescription Drug Use
- NIDA for Teens: PEERx
Get more information on K2/Spice, Salvia and Bath Salts. NIDA will update this page with the latest research findings on these and other emerging drugs as they develop.
Looking for Treatment?
Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator or 1-800-662-HELP.
As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both brain and behavior.
Prescription Drug Abuse
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