Prescription drug misuse and abuse is cause for great concern. As of 2008, teens cite prescription drugs as the second most accessable drugs available to them, after marijuana. Teens also view the drugs as 'safe' highs. Prescription drugs are medications that should only be used as prescribed. The addictive potential of prescription drugs is the same as that of illegal drugs -- such as cocaine or heroin -- and the consequences of use can be severe. The following pages contain lists of drugs prescribed and abused (by schedule). Research reports and articles for further information are at the bottom of the pages.
A survey of more than 12,000 U.S. high-school seniors found that 12.3 percent said they had used opioid-based prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, with 8 percent saying they had done so within the past year.
Students reported that they used drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, morphine and codeine to relax, relieve tension, get high, experiment, relieve pain, or have a good time with their friends.
Those who used the drugs for reasons other than pain relief were more likely to use other addictive drugs and have signs of addictive disorders, researchers said.
"The results of this study provides compelling evidence that adolescents have a wide range of motives for using prescription opioids non-medically, and these motives should be carefully considered in efforts to reduce this behavior," said study author Sean Esteban McCabe of the Substance Abuse Research Center of the University of Michigan. "These results suggest that appropriate pain management and careful therapeutic monitoring could contribute to reductions in the non-medical use of prescription opioids among adolescents."
Opioid (analgesic/narcotic) drugs are the most commonly misused of prescription drugs. Below are the three categories of prescription drugs:
OPIOID (OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet), also known as analgesics or opiods are drugs that are prescribed for moderate to severe physical pain. They are abused because of their euphoric, sedating, and numbing effects. Narcotic abuse causes tolerance and dependence and the withdrawal symptoms are severe.
DEPRESSANTS (Xanax, Valium, Librium) are drugs that are prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. They are abused because of their sedating properties. With abuse, depressants cause tolerance and dependence and the withdrawal symptoms can be severe.
STIMULANTS (Ritalin, Dexedrine, Meridia) are prescribed to treat ADD/ADHD and other conditions such as asthma. They are abused because of their energizing and euphoric effects. Stimulants do not generally cause tolerance or dependence but abuse is associated with hostility and paranoia. There is also great risk for cardiovascular failure and seizures.
Get more information on prescription drugs and prescription drug abuse in the Prescription Drug brochure available here.