Commonly Misused and Abused Drugs in America

Opioid Pain Relievers

Opioids are a class of drugs which reduce or eliminate pain; prescription painkillers are used to treat pain associated with cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative conditions. They also reduce pain from acute pain related to injuries, surgery, or dental work.

Opioids include prescription medications oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, and codeine as well as the illicit drug heroin. There are varying classes of pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and opioid analgesic; each type with different advantages and adverse effects. Pain treatment, regardless of acute or chronic, should be individualized for the patient and evaluated at frequent periods, and non-medications alternatives should be seriously considered.

The use of prescription-based opioid painkillers puts patients at risk of overdose, physical dependence, and addiction. A serious evaluation of whether or not someone should use a prescribed opioid painkiller needs to occur. Those who abuse opioids commonly adjust the method of administration and will snort or inject the substance to potentiate its effects. The use of opioids, whether alone or in combination with other substances), may cause drowsiness, confusion, and slow or stopped respiration which could lead to overdose and potentially death.

Opioid misuse and abuse has risen dramatically in the past few decades and is now considered a public health epidemic in the United States. From 1993 to 2013 the chance of death from prescribed opioid overdose almost quadrupled. Deaths from heroin have similarly seen huge increases since 201, with a 40% increase from 2012 to 2013.

 

Over-The-Counter Drugs

Over the counter, drugs do not need a prescription. Several OTC drugs include substances that can be abused. Here are some resources for drug rehab centers in major cities across the U.S.:

 

Psychiatric Drugs

Psychiatric drugs are given to patients by health care practitioners to address mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety disorders. Typically prescribed medications that are abused are sedative medications in the drug class named benzodiazepines, which include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), and diazepam (Valium), and the antipsychotic medication, quetiapine or Seroquel. These drugs alone or when combined with other substances create sedation and euphoria. Hypnotic medicines that aid those suffering from insomnia can also be abused. The sleep medication Ambien is an example of a commonly abused substance.

A separate class of drug used to treat attention-deficit disorders includes stimulants. Stimulants temporarily raise alertness and energy and have a calming and focused effect on those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Stimulants include amphetamines like Adderall, methylphenidate or Ritalin, and cocaine. In 2010, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that around 1.1 million individuals abused stimulants, which are prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Side effects of stimulant abuse may include psychosis, seizures, and cardiovascular problems.

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