Prescription Drug Facts

29 Sep

Prescription drugs are generally prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain, and, if properly taken, prescription drugs are effective in treating their targeted ailment. However, some prescription drugs are highly addictive.


Most Abused

Opioids such as OxyContin, Percocet and Kadian (morphine) are among the most abused prescription drugs. Central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as barbiturates (Nembutal) and benzodiazepines (Xanax and Valium) are also highly abused. Stimulants such as dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) and methylphenidate (Ritalin), which are used to treat narcolepsy (sleep disorder), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity, are commonly abused as well.


Street Names

Prescription drugs can often be obtained on the streets. Consequently, many prescription drugs have street names: OxyContin–Hillbilly heroin, Oxycotton and Oxycet; Percocet–Percs; Vicodin–Vikes and happy pills; Ritalin–kiddie cocaine, West Coast and Vitamin R; Xanax–totem poles; Benzodiazepines–downers, candy and sleeping pills; Amphetamines–Bennies, Black Beauty, Hearts and Speed; and Barbiturates–Blue Birds, Barbs and Phennies.



The inappropriate use of prescription drugs (using without prescription, medical permission, or not as prescribed) can cause addiction. The excessive use of opioids, pain relievers and narcotics can cause the user’s breathing to slow or stop. Abusing depressants, tranquilizers and sedatives in general can result in respiratory depression (inadequate ventilation), reduced heart rate and seizures. A dependency on stimulants can cause deviant heart rate, elevated body temperature, seizure and cardiovascular shutdown.


Illegal Trafficking

A 2007 study by Columbia University, sponsored by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), revealed that 210 hours were spent recording the number of Internet websites that were distributing specific prescription drugs. Through search engines and email campaigns, 187 Internet websites were found guilty of selling prescription drugs over the Internet; 84 percent of these sites did not require prescriptions to purchase the drug. A mere 30 sites required a prescription. However, 17 of them stated that a faxed prescription was sufficient, 4 stated that the prescription had to be mailed and 9 said that they would contact the physician before distributing the drug.


Prescription Drug Views

According to the Kaiser Public Opinion Spotlight, most prescription drug users in America agree that prescription drugs have had a positive effect on their lives. 54 percent of adults report using four or more prescription medications daily. There is mixed perception on the pharmaceutical industry, however. Seven out of ten adults report that the pharmaceutical industry is too focused on making money instead of helping individuals. 79 percent believe that high profits are to be blamed for the high costs of prescription drugs, which many feel are unreasonable.


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