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Which Prescription Drugs Are Abused?

The most commonly used prescription drugs fall into three classes:

1. Opioids

  • Examples: oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and meperidine (Demerol)
  • Medical uses: Opioids are used to treat pain or relieve coughs or
    diarrhea.
  • How they work: Opioids attach to opioid receptors in the central nervous
    system (the brain and the spinal cord), preventing the brain from
    receiving pain messages.

 

2. Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

  • Examples: pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), diazepam (Valium), and alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Medical uses: CNS depressants are used to treat anxiety, tension, panic attacks, and sleep disorders.
  • How they work: CNS depressants slow down brain activity by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA. The result is a drowsy or calming effect.

 

3. Stimulants

  • Examples: methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
  • Medical uses: Stimulants can be used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD.
  • How they work: Stimulants increase brain activity, resulting in greater alertness, attention, and energy.

 

    4.  Over the Counter Drugs

    Some people mistakenly think that prescription drugs are more powerful because you need a prescription for them. But it’s possible to abuse or become addicted to over-the-counter (OTC) medications, too.

    For example, dextromethorphan (DXM) is found in some OTC cough medicines. When someone takes the number of teaspoons or tablets that are recommended, everything is fine. But high doses can cause problems with the senses (especially vision and hearing) and can lead to confusion, stomach pain, numbness, and even hallucinations.

     The decision to seek treatment can be difficult. Fortunately there are several treatment providers in our community that offer effective residential and/or outpatient treatment programs. For more information on treatment providers in Hillsborough County please go to http://www.211atyourfingertips.org.