Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Drug abuse is not limited to street drugs like heroin and cocaine. In fact, some of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States are over-the-counter and prescription drugs that are meant to treat serious health issues. When used the wrong way, these drugs can be very addictive and dangerous.

Prescription drug abuse affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Each year, an estimated 18 million people have misused prescription medication at least once. Commonly misused medications are opioids, stimulants, and depressants.

Misusing medication is a slippery slope because people can start off filling a prescription that they need to reduce pain or help with diagnosed psychological problems. The abuse begins when people take more than is prescribed, use the drugs for a different reason, or take medication without a prescription at all.

Early identification, intervention, and opioid treatment can tremendously help habitual misusers and addicts.

Here are six of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the United States:

1. Amphetamines

These stimulants are prescribed to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Some people use amphetamines to boost energy and alertness levels or to lose weight. Misusing amphetamines can cause high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, seizures, hallucinations, paranoia, and aggressiveness.

2. Over-the-Counter Cough Medicine

Something as simple as cough medicine is commonly abused because it is so readily available in homes and pharmacies. Taking large doses can cause a high as well as hallucinations. But because it can be bought over the counter doesn’t mean that any amount is perfectly safe. Physical side effects include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and an increased heart rate.

3. Hydrocodone (Vicodin)

Hydrocodone is an opioid, and it’s meant to treat pain. This category of drugs is among the most abused prescription drugs, as millions of people misuse these pain relievers every year. One of the first signs of opioid dependency is nausea after stopping treatment. Other side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, low blood pressure, and a coma. Combining prescription painkillers with sedatives can be very dangerous.

Opioid treatment programs combine pharmacology and counseling to help addicts transition into sobriety.

4. Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet, Percodan)

Oxycontin is another type of opioid prescribed for chronic pain. Pain relief brought on by oxycontin lasts up to 12 hours, so it is commonly misused and abused. Crushed oxycontin pills release large amounts of opiates in the system and can be lethal to those who snort or inject it.

5. Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana)

This is another type of stimulant also found in drugs for ADHD and narcolepsy. Misuse of this stimulant can cause erratic blood pressure, weight loss, decreased appetite, and other digestive issues.

6. Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan)

These central nervous system depressants are sedatives and mild tranquilizers that slow down brain activity. They are prescribed to those who suffer from insomnia, anxiety, and panic attacks. Physical dependence, misuse, and overuse can be very dangerous. Side effects include low blood pressure, impaired coordination, confusion, and dizziness.

Seek Professional Help

Misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs is a rampant problem that affects millions of people in the United States every year. Physical dependency and overuse of these drugs can lead to serious health problems, addiction, and even death. Opioid treatment programs and other types of professional help can bring addicts back to the path of sobriety and health.

Medication-Assisted Treatment in Havertown, PA

If you or someone you love is misusing prescription drugs, American Treatment Network substance abuse facility and staff in Havertown, PA, can help. Our Medication-Assisted Treatment plan utilizes Suboxone, a prescription drug that helps prevent painful opioid addiction withdrawal side effects.

We help people to live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Schedule an appointment today and let American Treatment Network help you! 


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