Prescription Drugs

According to the National Institute on Drugs, abuse of prescription drugs refers to medications that are “taken for reasons or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed.” Although people may think that prescription drugs are safe since they were prescribed by a doctor, using them beyond what they were intended for such as “getting high” or “self-medicating” can be dangerous and addictive.  Prescription drugs of abuse typically fall within the following categories:

Opioids: Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine, Percodan, Percocet, OxyContin

Depressants: Xanax, Valium, Halcion, Librium, Ativan, Klonopin

Stimulants: Ritalin, Concerta, Biphetamine, Dexedrine



Hillbilly heroin, oxy, percs, happy pills

barbs, reds, phennies, yellows, sleeping pills

Skippy, Vitamin R, black beauties, roses, uppers

short term effects include*:


  • Nausea
  • Unconsciousness
  • Constipation


  • Exhaustion
  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Depressants:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Fever
  • Dizziness

    *Symptoms may vary among users

long term effects include*:


  • Physical dependence/addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and insomnia.
  • Stimulants:

  • Addiction
  • Feelings of hostility or paranoia
  • Depressants:

  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Breathing difficulties

    *Symptoms may vary among users


  • Each day, a United States youth aged 12 to 17 will abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time.
  • Prescription drugs are the most commonly abused substances behind marijuana and alcohol for Americans age 14 and older.
  • Due to their typically wide availability in the home, youth often have little difficulty accessing prescription drugs. In fact, most teenagers receive prescription drugs from a friend or relative for free.
  • Males and females tend to abuse prescription drugs for different reasons. For example, males may use them to “get high” whereas girls may use them to stay alert or lose weight.