Prescription drug abuse is a condition where addicts consume medications not intended for them. From taking a friend’s prescription painkiller to injecting or snorting pills to get the rush, it is all a part of prescription drug abuse. Studies show that nearly 18 million people (approximately 6% of the US population) have used drugs not prescribed to them.

The study also revealed shocking figures revealing that drug abuse affects not only the adults but consumes the teenagers as well. Abusing drugs at such an early age can be deadly and may affect the brain in a way that can last lifelong. Although the addiction can kick in at any age, it usually begins during teenage and in young adults.

Which Prescription Drugs Are Abused?

The most commonly abused prescription drugs are painkillers, stimulants, sedatives, and anti-anxiety medicines. What usually starts with an attempt to just giving it a try soon turns into an unavoidable urge that slowly pulls the individual down to addiction. Here are a few prescription drugs that are often abused by the addicts:


Millions of people around the world use antidepressants to treat anxiety and fight insomnia. Usually, benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax, and Ativan are used as Central Nervous System depressants that affect a chemical in our brain which can lower brain activity. The effects make the patient calm and sleepy.

When taken as prescribed, CNS depressants can be extremely helpful to calm the mind and feel relaxed. However, after some time, a large dose is required to get the same feeling. People who continue using these drugs even after the prescription period has ended can land in serious trouble.

With alcohol, CNS depressants can slow down the heartbeat and breathing which can eventually lead to an untimely demise. People who use it for long and then suddenly stop, experience withdrawal seizures that are life-threatening.


Doctors prescribe opioid painkillers such as morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine. The purpose of prescribing these medicines is to manage pain and increase the quality of life if taken as per the instructions.

Further, it is not common to fall into addiction or become dependant on these drugs if taken for a short duration or under doctor’s observation. However, if consumed for long without proper medical guidance, it can lead to drug abuse. The reason why it is always advisable to take the amount prescribed by the doctor.

One of the primary reasons to abuse opioids is because it causes a joyful feeling. many people snort or even inject it into their body for fast results. Opioids, if combined with CNS depressants can cause serious issues. The side effects cause breathing problems, unusual heartbeat, and even death in some cases.


Primarily used for treating obesity and asthma by the doctors, stimulants can be very dangerous if consumed more than what is prescribed. Stimulants boost energy, alertness, and improves attention. These medications can also increase blood pressure, heart rate, and narrow your blood vessels.

The pills are crushed and then snorted which if continued for long, causes addiction. At the peak of their abuse, these drugs can shoot up blood pressure and body temperatures, cause hallucinations, tremors, paranoia, and aggressiveness.

What’s more? Misusing these drugs can cause irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. Both conditions can worsen quickly into something even more fatal.

Can Anyone Fall Victim To Prescription Drug Abuse?

People fear that the medications prescribed to them to improve their medical condition may push them to addiction. However, if you follow proper medical guidance and take medicines under a doctor’s supervision, the chances to develop addictive traits are less.

Although addiction can knock your door irrespective of your age, however, people with the following traits are at more risk to abuse prescription drugs:

  • Peer pressure or living in a social environment where drug abuse is common.
  • History with drug abuse and addiction to other substances such as tobacco and alcohol.
  • Family history of addiction.
  • Existence of psychiatric conditions or any mental health issue.
  • Less effort required to lay hands on prescription drugs. For example, you have medications in your home.
  • Lack of education and knowledge about prescription drugs and the harm that they can cause.
  • Curiosity among the teens to try it just for fun.

What Are The Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse?

The symptoms of drug abuse depend on the type of drug taken. For example, if someone is addicted to opioids, they may have different signs than someone addicted to stimulants.

Opioid Addiction

The opioid abuse causes shallow breathing, nausea, an upset stomach, and constipation. More common signs such as slurred or unclear speech, poor physical coordination, frequent mood swings, aggressive behavior, and depression and anxiety are also observed.

Stimulants Abuse

Higher doses of stimulants cause high body temperatures which induce restlessness and nervousness. Further, it causes sudden weight loss, headache, irregular heart rate, insomnia, paranoia, and aggressive behavior traits.


The addict experiences mood changes, trouble in walking and concentrating, difficulty in memorizing things, poor physical coordination, and poor judgment.

Can Prescription Drug Abuse Be Prevented?

To proceed with abusing prescription drugs or not depends completely on the individual. Following the directions properly and consuming medicines strictly as per the doctor’s advice is the first step of prevention. The medications should never be stopped in between and must be taken exactly as prescribed. Also, don’t allow even the closest of your friends to take your medicines.

To make sure you fully understand how bad prescription drug abuse is, it is better to keep reading about its harmful effects and passing the information which you think can help others. Also, hiding anything from the medical personnel is not wise either. Talk to them about any previous incident of substance abuse in your family. Opening your cards in front of the doctor can save you from falling into the trap that drug abuse is.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.