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Prescription Drugs

Most people who take prescription medications use them responsibly. However, the inappropriate or nonmedical use of prescription medications is a serious public health concern.  Read More ›

Prescription medications such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives are very useful treatment tools but sometimes people do not take them as directed and may become addicted. Pain relievers make surgery possible, and enable many individuals with chronic pain to lead productive lives. Most people who take prescription medications use them responsibly. However, the inappropriate or nonmedical use of prescription medications is a serious public health concern. Nonmedical use of prescription medications like opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and stimulants can lead to addiction, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use.

Patients, healthcare professionals, and pharmacists all have roles in preventing misuse and addiction to prescription medications. For example, when a doctor prescribes a pain relief medication, CNS depressant, or stimulant, the patient should follow the directions for use carefully, learn what effects the medication could have, and determine any potential interactions with other medications. The patient should read all information provided by the pharmacist. Physicians and other healthcare providers should screen for any type of substance abuse during routine history-taking, with questions about which prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines the patient is taking and why. Providers should note any rapid increases in the amount of a medication needed or frequent requests for refills before the quantity prescribed should have been used, as these may be indicators of abuse.

Commonly Abused Prescription Medications

While many prescription medications can be abused or misused, these three classes are most commonly abused:

Opioids - often prescribed to treat pain.

CNS Depressants - used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.

Stimulants - prescribed to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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