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Prescription Drug Addiction Information & Resources

There are more than 19,000 Prescription drugs

While there are more than 19,000 prescription drugs, many of which help people survive, a handful has trapped people in patterns of abuse and addiction. The primary drugs of abuse and addiction are opioids, stimulants and central nervous system depressants.

Prescription Drug Addiction

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Find more information about prescription drugs and prescription drug addiction with professionally reviewed up-to-date articles. Getting informed is the first step in overcoming prescription drug addiction.


Prescription Drug Abuse Signs

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When prescription drugs are abused by a person wishing to get high, they no longer help the user. In fact, they may cause unconsciousness, amnesia and death.


Prescription Drug Stats & Trends

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Stay informed on the latest news, trends and statistics on prescription drug addiction and prescription drug related news.


When a person abuses prescription drugs, they take more of the drug than was recommended, they take it without a prescription, or they take it in a different way than a doctor recommends. For example, instead of swallowing a pill, they may crush it and snort or inject the ingredients, which causes a more intense effect than swallowing it.

Prescription Opioids

Opioids are used mostly as painkillers, although they have some use as cough or diarrhea treatments.1 In general, opioids dull pain and cause lethargy and relaxation. Most opioids are partly or fully derivatives of opium. Fentanyl is a fully synthetic opioid.

The most commonly prescribed opioids in America include:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin or Percocet)
  • Morphine (Kadian, MSContin)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)
  • Codeine (codeine is often found in combination with other drugs, such as Tylenol with Codeine or Promethazine with codeine)2
  • Fentanyl (Actiq, Sublimaze)

At one time the fentanyl found on the street was diverted from medical supplies.3 In the last decade, illicitly manufactured fentanyl has arrived in America in huge quantities. This powerful opioid is being pressed into counterfeit pill forms that resemble OxyContin, Xanax, Adderall and other drugs. A single pill can contain enough fentanyl to kill a person, putting those who consume prescription drugs they buy on the street in intense danger.

Opioids can cause overdose deaths by causing a person to stop breathing.

Prescription Stimulants

Stimulants have had controversial use in the treatment of study disorders that cause some people to lose the ability to focus well. They are also used in the treatment of narcolepsy and obesity. These drugs artificially rev up the function of the brain and nervous system.

  • Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
  • Dextroamphetamine/amphetamine (Adderall)
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Effects of these drugs include increased blood pressure and heart rate, insomnia, weight loss and exhaustion.4 Consumption of too much of these drugs can bring about an irregular heartbeat that causes a heart attack, as well as high or low blood pressure or seizures.

Prescription Central Nervous System Depressants

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants slow brain activity. Therefore they are prescribed for anxiety, panic attacks and sleeplessness. There are three types of CNS depressants that are frequently abused and all are addictive.

  • Benzodiazepines, for example diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Barbiturates like mephobarbital (Mebaral), phenobarbital (Luminal) and pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal)
  • Non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics used as sleep aids like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) or zaleplon (Sonata)

Abuse or overdose of CNS depressants can result in death by causing a person to stop breathing.


  1. NIDA.”Prescription Opioids DrugFacts.” NIDA, 2021. NIDA Article ↩︎

  2. FDA.gov. “FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA restricts use of prescription codeine pain and cough medicines.” FDA, 2017. FDA Article ↩︎

  3. NIDA. “Fentanyl DrugFacts.” NIDA, 2021. NIDA Article ↩︎

  4. DEA. “Amphetamines.” DEA, 2020. DEA Publication (PDF) ↩︎

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