Prescription drug abuse is the use of medication without a prescription in a way other than as prescribed. An estimated 48 million people have abused prescription drugs, representing nearly 20% of the U.S. population. Commonly abused prescription drugs – narcotic pain relievers such as hydrocodone, depressants such as Xanax and Valium, and stimulants such as Ritalin and adderall – can lead to adverse health effects and addiction.
In order to keep prescription drugs safe and out of the hands of those who may abuse them, here are a few tips.
- Lock up all prescription drugs at home.
- Monitor the quantities and control access.
- Set clear rules for teens about all drug use to include not sharing medicine and following the prescriber’s advice and dosage.
- Properly conceal and dispose of old or unused medicines.
Visit the Safe Disposal page for more information.
Consider these facts:
- Nearly one in five teens has used a prescription drug to get high.
- Young Adults aged 18-25 are the most common users of prescription medication for nonmedical use.
- Teens report getting drugs from the medicine cabinets in their own homes and from relatives and friends.
Some of the most abused prescription drugs include:
- Painkillers – called opioids – brand names such as Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin
Symptoms of abuse: confusion, decreased respiration, depression, pinpoint pupils, low blood pressure.
- Stimulants – brand names such as Ritalin and Adderall
Symptoms of abuse: agitation, irritability, insomnia, high blood pressure, weight loss.
- Sedatives – brand names such as Valium, Xanax, Ativan
Symptoms of abuse: drowsiness, unsteady gait, poor judgment (similar symptoms as alcohol abuse). These drugs are most often abused in conjunction with other drugs. For example, a methamphetamine user may use this type of drug to come down from over-stimulation.
Other symptoms a person may be abusing a prescription drug:
- Appearing to be high or sedated
- “Losing” prescriptions so that more must be written
- Taking more than what is prescribed
- Seeking prescriptions from more than one prescriber
- Stealing, forging or selling prescriptions