Which Prescription Drugs Top the List For Drug Abuse?

There are thousands of prescription drugs on the market today and many are being abused by Americans across the country. So which drugs pose the biggest threat?

There are three classifications for prescription drugs most commonly abused: opioids, depressants, and stimulants. Of the three, opioids, or pain relievers, are the most common. The National Institute on Drug Abuse released a study in 2010 that showed nearly 7 million people abuse prescription drugs each year. Of those, 5.1 million abuse pain killers like those listed in this article.

Opioids are sought after because they can alleviate pain better than traditional over-the-counter products. Vicodin, Hydrocodone and Oxycontin are the most common types. In addition to pain relief, opioids are said to give their users a feeling of euphoria. But there are potentially harmful side effects when taking these drugs without a prescription or at high dosages.

Those addicted to opiods may experience sedation, nausea, dry mouth, confusion, impaired coordination and reduced or arrested breathing. Low blood pressure, coma and even death can also result from opiod abuse. When taking Oxycontin, for example, the effects are more powerful than morphine.

Depressants and stimulants offer opposing effects yet are both highly addictive. Depressants are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Nearly 2.6 million Americans abuse these drugs, which include Xanax and Valium. While users are supposed to be taking the drugs to reduce their anxiety and bring about a feeling of well-being, abusing the drug can slur speech, impair memory and even increase risk of death if taken with alcohol.

Stimulants, on the other hand, give users the feelings of exhilaration, heightened alertness and an increase in energy. About 1.1 million Americans take stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin for anything but their intended purpose, which is to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Those numbers include those taking medications not prescribed to them or taking their own prescriptions at higher dosages than initially given by their medical professional.

When people take stimulants without a prescription, they can experience high blood pressure, weight loss, heart attack, and stroke. Amphetamines, like stimulants, can cause erratic behavior like hallucinations and paranoia that make its users act with aggression.

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The Pain of Addiction

Vicodin addiction often starts innocently enough. Most people start taking Vicodin or other pain medications after surgery or an injury. But then they can’t stop. They need more to get the same pain relief. They start doctor shopping to get more pills. And the cycle continues until it takes over their lives.