Prescription Drug Abuse, an Alarming Trend
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Barbara K. Hecht, PhD
In 2009, 16 million Americans 12 years of age 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, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration). Although any type of medication has the potential to be abused, certain groups of prescription drugs are most commonly abused.
Although any type of medication has the potential to be abused, certain groups of prescription drugs are most commonly abused.
Painkillers: Opioids such as codeineand morphine are narcotics prescribed to treat pain. Other drugs in this class include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), meperidine (Demerol), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and propoxyphene (Darvon).
CNS depressants: Drugs in the benzodiazepine class are central nervous system (CNS) depressants used to treat anxietydisorders and sometimes for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Examples include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and triazolam (Halcion).
Barbiturates: Barbiturates are also CNS depressants. They include phenobarbital (Luminal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), and mephobarbital (Mebaral). Barbiturates are prescribed to treat insomnia, tension, and anxiety.
Stimulants: Stimulants are sometimes prescribed to treat obesityand attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Examples include methylphenidate (Ritalin) and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine). Some of these preparations can be found in over-the-counter diet pills.
Dextromethorphan (DMX): DMX is the active coughsuppressant found in cough and cold medications.