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Kinds of Prescription Drugs

Kinds of prescription drugsPrescription drug abusers today is much more apparent. Often, prescription drug addiction happens accidentally. When used for a prolonged amount of time, the body becomes used to the amount of drugs administered. When this happens, the user has to take more to receive the initial effects. This is a dangerous thing to do because when a user does not take the medication, withdrawal symptoms will occur. When taking prescriptions medications, the patient needs to do exactly as the doctor says to stay clear of addiction.

There are several different kinds of prescription drugs that are abused: opioid painkillers, sedatives/tranquilizers and stimulants. Within these three main categories are drugs such as: morphine, codeine, oxycodone, Xanax, hydrocodone, OxyContin and morphine.

Opioid Painkillers

Opioids are commonly prescribed because of their effective pain-relieving properties (analgesic). Some medications that fall within this class include: morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and some other lesser-known drugs. They can be prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain, based on the dosage and which drug is administered. In some cases, they are also used as a cough suppressant. When used properly, opioids can be an effective way to deal with pain. However, when abused, the user becomes dependent or addicted and will encounter adverse effects.

Natural opiates, or endorphins, cease to function normally after prolonged use of opiates. It’s been termed a central nervous system (CNS) disorder. The body stops producing endorphins because it is receiving opiates instead. As these nerve cells begin degenerating, a physical dependency to an external supply of opiates develops.

Serious health conditions are associated with opiate abuse, including:

  • Fatal overdose
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Collapsed veins
  • Infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis particularly in users who inject the drug
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses
  • Cellulitis
  • Liver disease

Therefore, it is very important to get the use of this drug stopped. As soon after a single dose is taken, short-term effects of abuse appear and then disappear in a few hours.


Sedatives or tranquilizers are also known as central nervous system depressants (CNS depressants). They are commonly used in patients with anxiety and sleeping problems because the drug slows down brain activity. Two different classes of CNS depressants are: barbiturates and benzodiazepines. If these drugs are used long term, the body builds up a tolerance to the drug, therefore, the person needs to take a larger dosage in order to receive the initial feeling. This leads to dependency and withdrawal effects when the user stops taking the drug. The drug slows down the brain activity, so when the user goes off the drug, the brain may react by working out of control and can lead to seizures.

Both classes of depressants are useful medications with a potential for abuse and dependence. Sedative abuse may be difficult to diagnose. The abuse can start in the context of medical treatment for anxiety, medical disorders or insomnia.

Symptoms of use are similar to alcohol:

  • Intoxication
  • Withdrawal
  • Withdrawal delirium
  • Amnestic disorder

Low dose benzodiazepine dependence is very common today. When the medication is withdrawn, anxiety symptoms may increase for months. It is often found that those that abuse this particular prescription drug and attempt to quit using them can often be treated for anxiety when it’s essentially a withdrawal symptom. Along with that, withdrawal symptoms may not be evident until seven to 10 days after cessation of use. It is for this reason that someone experienced in treating anxiety disorders must follow these patients.

Because of the similar effects of both, combined usage of sedatives and alcohol has a higher risk of overdose. These patients can have an extended withdrawal that can last for months and treatment for use is similar to alcohol. A counteractive sedative is administered to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. This medication is gradually decreased until the patient is clear of the drug.


Stimulants have very different effects than sedatives. They increase energy, alertness, heart rate and respiration. Doctors used to use stimulants for many different purposes, but because of the high risk of abuse, it has been limited to helping narcolepsy, ADHD and severe depression. Those who take stimulants for an extended period of time are likely to become dependent and will encounter effects of withdrawal when trying to quit.

Two of the most popular prescription stimulant drugs abused regularly are Ritalin and ephedrine. Ephedrine is most commonly used by college students to stay awake for long periods of time and often mistaken as a safer alternative to crystal meth.

Ritalin affects the CNS and is normally prescribed for ADHD in adults and children. Its effects can last for hours and produce a euphoric effect. When taken as prescribed, Ritalin produces a calming effect on the individual, reducing their impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattentiveness, which is why so effective in treating children who have ADD.

Prescription Drugs Facts

When used properly, prescription drugs are very helpful to those who need them. However, prescription drugs are some of the easiest drugs to abuse. Abusing prescription medication is very common in teenagers. A study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, was conducted on 592, 12 to 17 year olds. It found that 20 percent of the teenagers admitted to lending their prescription medications to other students. There was a similar amount that admitted to borrowing the drugs as well. There are many risk factors that go along with sharing drugs such as:

  • They may not come with the written instructions that the doctor gives the patients who were prescribed the medication
  • There may be side effects that would occur in certain people

Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention

Prevention is key. It is important to:

  • Keep your prescription medications clearly labeled and away from children and those with a history of drug abuse.
  • Keep all medications in a locked cabinet.
  • Dispose of all unused pills properly. The federal government suggests flushing opioid painkillers down the toilet. Other unused medications can be mixed with coffee grounds or kitty litter and thrown away.

Failure to follow these steps can lead to becoming dependent on prescription drugs.

Prescription Drug Addiction Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs, please call our toll free number at (877) 571-5722. Someone is available 24 hours a day to help you with choosing the right treatment for addiction.

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