Prescription Drug Abuse, an Alarming Trend
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Barbara K. Hecht, PhD
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2006, 16.2 million Americans aged 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. Up to 7 million people, or 2.8% of the U.S. population age 12 or older, had used prescription medications for nonmedical purposes in the month prior to the survey.
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).