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The Three Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Unfortunately, abuse of prescription drugs is common. Buying drugs from acquaintances, sharing between family and friends, and doctor-shopping allow controlled drugs to make their way to people who may abuse them.  Misuse can cause addiction, conviction, damage and death.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, three of the most commonly abused types of prescription drugs are depressants, opioids and morphine derivatives.

Depressants include:

  • Barbiturates, such as Nembutal and Seconal
  • Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax
  • Sleep medications, such as Ambien

Effects can include drowsiness, reduced inhibition, confusion, dizziness and memory problems. More dangerous consequences can include low blood pressure, dangerously slow respiration, excessive pain tolerance, addiction and risk of severe respiratory distress and death — especially when combined with alcohol. Barbiturates use can also cause euphoria, fever and social withdrawal in abusers.

Opioids and morphine derivatives include codeine, morphine, methadone, fentanyl and such pain relievers as OxyContin, Percocet and Demerol. Effects include too much tolerance for pain, dizziness, nausea, confusion and sweating. More dangerous consequences include slowed or stopped breathing, lowered pulse and blood pressure, unconsciousness, coma and death. The risk of death is greater when combined with alcohol or other depressants. Fentanyl and oxycodone are notable for their high potency, which raises their potential for abuse.

Stimulants include amphetamines such as Dexedrine and Adderall, and methylphenidates like Concerta and Ritalin. Effects include exhilaration and increased mental alertness. Dangerous consequences include rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, poor metabolism, excessive weight loss, nervousness, insomnia, seizures, heart attack and stroke. Amphetamines can also cause tremor, anxiety, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, aggressiveness and addiction. Methylphenidates are notable for their harmful effect on blood pressure, digestion and appetite.

Clearly, it is not just illegal drugs that are of concern, but also legal prescription medications that can lead to devastating physical, emotional and family damage.

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