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Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs can be used to treat a number of medical problems, from chronic pain to behavioral disorders. While these medications are seen as a huge boon to those who really need them, the dangers of these drugs cannot be underestimated. There are a number of reasons why prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic in the U.S., including the misconception that these drugs are “safe” because they are prescribed by doctors. Now there are a number of categories of prescription drugs that have led to abuse and dependency among teens and adults alike.


Prescription painkillers are some of the most widely abused substances today. Examples of commonly abused opioids include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Demerol

Some attribute their increased use to the fact that physicians are prescribing these drugs more frequently to treat both acute and chronic pain. The drugs are highly addictive, even when they are taken as prescribed. People that get hooked may continue to take the drug for non-medical purposes. If the prescription drugs become too difficult to get on the street, users may turn to street drugs like heroin to take their place.


When properly prescribed, some stimulants can help those with attention deficit disorder focus better to complete tasks. Common stimulants include:

  • Ritalin
  • Adderall
  • Concerta
  • Dexedrine

The effects of these drugs, including increased alertness and energy, have made them popular drugs of abuse as well. A common choice among students, these drugs are called study drugs because they are frequently used to keep people awake and alert while cramming for examinations. In addition to the “high” users get when they take them, these drugs may cause dangerously accelerated heart rate and breathing, particularly when they are combined with other stimulants.


This class of drugs is commonly prescribed for those that struggle with anxiety or sleep disorders. The common drugs in this category include:

  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Lunesta
  • Ambien

These drugs cause feelings of drowsiness, lowered inhibitions and overall feelings of wellbeing. However, the drugs are also extremely addictive and very dangerous, especially when taken with other types of sedatives and alcohol. Long-term use can lead to paranoia, irritability and suicidal thoughts.

Prescription drugs have the misconception of safety, due to the fact that they are prescribed by physicians. However, when these drugs are taken for purposes outside of their medicinal use, they can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than illicit drugs sold on the street. These drugs have all the features of addictive substances including needing more of the drug over time to get the same effects (tolerance), strong cravings for the drug and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if the drug is suddenly stopped.

If you are struggling with a prescription drug addiction, you are not alone and help is available. Contact the professional team at Pasadena Recovery Center today at 866-663-3030.

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