What is prescription drug abuse?
Prescription drug abuse1 is the use of a medication without a prescription, in a way other than as prescribed, or for the experience or feelings elicited. According to several national surveys, prescription medications, such as those used to treat pain, attention deficit disorders, and anxiety, are being abused at a rate second only to marijuana among illicit drug users. The consequences of this abuse have been steadily worsening, reflected in increased treatment admissions, emergency room visits, and overdose deaths.
What are some of the commonly abused prescription drugs?
Although many medications can be abused, the following three classes are most commonly abused:
- Opioids—usually prescribed to treat pain;
- Central nervous system (CNS) depressants—used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders; and
- Stimulants—most often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).