What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Some medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties and, because of that, are sometimes abused—that is, taken for reasons or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana (and alcohol), the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. This occurs when a doctor prescribes a potentially addictive drug and the patient grows dependent upon it. In some cases, patients find that the original dosage simply no longer works, and steadily up their dose, creating tolerance that ultimately leads to dependency.

Prescription drug abuse is at an all-time high in America. Here are certain signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for in order to recognize. These medications might be necessary for short or long term use in some cases. However, the sad truth “ANYONE” can go from taking a prescription as directed…but become an addict!

Here’s a list of side effects and possible danger to your health over an extended period of time:

How Are Prescription Drugs Abused?

Prescription and OTC drugs may be abused in one or more of the following ways:
Taking a medication that has been prescribed for somebody else. Unaware of the dangers of sharing medications, people often unknowingly contribute to this form of abuse by sharing their unused pain relievers with their family members.

These are some of the common signs when your prescription drug becomes an addiction:

What Are the Other Health Effects of Prescription and OTC Drugs?

Opioids can produce drowsiness, cause constipation, and—depending upon the amount taken—depress breathing. The latter effect makes opioids particularly dangerous, especially when they are snorted or injected or combined with other drugs or alcohol.

Abusing prescription medication can take an extreme toll on your body. You can severely damage your lungs since the opiates and similar drugs can suppress the body’s ability to breathe. A medical research found that opiate abuse is associated with a greater risk of pneumonia.

Your stomach and intestines can also be affected by prescription drug abuse. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, a narcotics abuser can suffer from something called narcotic bowel syndrome. This is the result of the slowing down of the bowel function. The symptoms of this syndrome include nausea, bloating, vomiting, abdominal distention, and constipation.


Substances: Category & NamePharmaceutical Names 
BARBITURATESAmytal, Nembutal, Seconal, Phenobarbital 
BENZODIAZEPINESAtivan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin 
SLEEP MEDICATIONSAmbien (zolpidem), Sonata (zaleplon), Lunesta (eszopiclone) 

Acute Effects: Sedation/drowsiness, reduced anxiety, feelings of well-being, lowered inhibitions, slurred speech, poor concentration, confusion, dizziness, impaired coordination, and memory
For barbiturates – euphoria, unusual excitement, fever, irritability

Health Risks: Slowed pulse, lowered blood pressure, slowed breathing, tolerance, withdrawal, addiction; increased risk of respiratory distress and death when combined with alcohol
For barbiturates – life-threatening withdrawal in chronic users

Substances: Category & NamePharmaceutical Names 
CODEINEEmpirin with Codeine, Fiorinal with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine 
MORPHINERoxanol, Duramorph 
METHADONEMethadose, Dolophine 
FENTANYL & ANALOGSActiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze 
OTHER OPIOID PAIN RELIEVERS (OXYCODONE HCL, HYDROCODONE BITARTRATE, HYDROMORPHONE, OXYMORPHONE, MEPERIDINE, PROPOXYPHENE)Tylox, Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet,   Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet,  Dilaudid, Numorphan, Numorphone, Darvon, Darvocet 

Acute Effects: Pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness, sedation, weakness, dizziness, nausea, impaired coordination, confusion, dry mouth, itching, sweating, clammy skin, constipation
For fentanyl – 80–100 times more potent analgesic than morphine
For oxycodone – muscle relaxation, twice as potent analgesic as morphine
For codeine – less analgesia, sedation, and respiratory depression than morphine
For methadone – used to treat opioid addiction and pain; significant overdose risk when used improperly

Health Risks: Slowed or arrested breathing, lowered pulse and blood pressure, tolerance, addiction, unconsciousness, coma, death; risk of death increased when combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants
For oxycodone – high potential for misuse

Substances: Category & NameExamples of Commercial & Street Names 
AMPHETAMINESBiphetamine, Dexedrine, Adderall 

Acute Effects: Feelings of exhilaration, increased energy, mental alertness
For amphetamines – rapid breathing, tremor, loss of coordination, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness

Health Risks: Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism, reduced appetite, weight loss, nervousness, insomnia, seizures, heart attack, stroke
For amphetamines – delirium, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, impulsive behavior, aggressiveness, tolerance, addiction
For methylphenidate – increase or decrease in blood pressure, digestive problems, loss of appetite, weight loss