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Prescription Drugs

The three classes of prescription drugs that are often abused include

  1. Opioids: type of narcotic pain medication (hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, codein).
  2. Benzodiazepines: central nervous system depressants used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin)
  3. Stimulants such as amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) or methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Methylin, Ritalin) most commonly used to treat attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy


  • Opioids can induce a euphoric feeling that's usually mild. However, opioids such as OxyContin are sometimes inappropriately snorted or injected to increase the euphoric effects.
  • Benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system (CNS). They are used by millions in the U.S. to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, including insomnia. These drugs affect the brain neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA works by decreasing brain activity, which results in a drowsy or calming effect.
  • Stimulants give your body a fast jumpstart, causing an increase in alertness, energy, and attention. Stimulants increase heart rate, blood sugar, and blood pressure, constrict blood vessels, and open the pathways of the respiratory system.

According to the FDA, guidelines for using prescription medications safely include:

  • Always follow the prescription medication directions carefully.
  • Don't increase or decrease medication doses without talking with your doctor first.
  • Never stop taking medication on your own.
  • Don't crush or break pills (especially important if the pills are time-released).
  • Be clear about the drug's effects on driving and other daily tasks.
  • Learn about possible interactions of the prescription medicine with alcohol and other prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
  • Talk honestly with your doctor about any history of substance abuse.
  • Never allow other people to use your prescription medications and don't take theirs.

Resources for additional information: