Prescription drug are a class of medications that can be lawfully prescribed by a physician to a patient, or, diverted for illegal recreational sale. Prescription drug abuse typically can be described as ingesting a prescription medication that is not prescribed for you, or, taking the particular drug for non-medical reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Abuse of prescription drugs can produce serious, life threatening health consequences, including addiction and overdose. Commonly abused classes of prescription medications include opiates (for pain), central nervous system depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders), and stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy). Opioids include hydrocodone (Vicodin®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), propoxyphene (Darvon®), hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), meperidine (Demerol®), and diphenoxylate (Lomotil®). Central nervous system depressants include barbiturates such as pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal®), and benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium®) and alprazolam (Xanax®). Stimulants include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®), methylphenidate (Ritalin® and Concerta®), and amphetamines (Adderall®).
oxy, cotton, blue, 40, 80 (OxyContin®)
Long-term use of opiates or central nervous system depressants can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Opiates can produce extreme euphoria, drowsiness, constipation, sedation and (depending on the 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 Trend:
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).
Signs of Abuse:
Signs of use and dependence can include:
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Memory problems
- Slowed breathing and decreased blood pressure
- Irritated / irrational / violent behavior
- Mood swings
- Physical harm to self or others