Most people that take prescription drugs do so according to their doctor’s specific orders; they follow the dosage amounts and only use them for as long as is necessary. But, some people abuse prescription drugs by taking them without a prescription or outside of the doctor’s recommended dosages. Abusing a prescription drug is the same as abusing illegal drugs, and many people take prescription drugs to get high in ways that are similar to the highs from illegal drugs.
Since some people abuse prescription drugs recreationally, these drugs often have nicknames, just like illegal recreational drugs do. These names are sometimes more well-known than the medication’s actual name, so users must know the most common names of prescription medications so they can understand the side effects and risks of drug abuse.
Prescription Drugs People Commonly Abuse
As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, people often abuse the following three types of prescription drugs:
- Central nervous system (CNS) depressants: These substances slow brain activity by increasing a neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid. They are prescribed to treat seizures, anxiety and sleep disorders, and their side effects include drowsiness, an increased sense of calm, decreased breathing and lower blood pressure. Most CNS depressants have high potential for addiction or dependence, and some, especially barbiturates, have a high risk of overdose.
- Opioids: These medications relieve pain through opioid receptors, which are proteins found throughout the body. These proteins decrease the body’s pain signals and lower the user’s emotional response to pain, but side effects can include confusion, constipation, drowsiness, nausea and decreased breathing. Opioid abuse can lead to addiction or overdose when people seek out increasingly intense experiences, especially because these drugs have a high potential for tolerance.
- Stimulant: These substances increase a person’s energy, alertness and attention, so they are currently prescribed for people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and occasionally depression. Traditionally they were prescribed for a variety of health issues, such as asthma and obesity, but common side effects of these drugs increase heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, so doctors now do not prescribe these drugs for people with breathing or weight problems. These medications also have a high potential for addiction, and can cause intense withdrawal symptoms in people that stop using them.
In other words, people abuse many drugs, but the side effects of such abuse can be devastating.
Different Names of Common Prescription Drugs
The NIDA also lists the generic and brand names of commonly-prescribed CNS depressants, opioids and stimulants. Some common CNS depressants include the following examples:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal)
- Phenobarbital (Luminal Sodium)
Common names for opioids are as follows:
- Diphenoxylate (Lomotil)
- Fentanyl (Duragesic)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Morphine (Kadian and Avinza)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin and Percocet)
- Oxymorphone (Opana)
- Propoxyphene (Darvon)
Some common stimulates include the following drugs:
- Amphetamines (Adderall)
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta)
Many of these drugs also have street names, which the Food and Drug Administration lists as follows:
- Hillbilly heroin
Prescription drugs have multiple names, their generic, brand and street names. No matter what they are called, though, these medications are extremely powerful, and should only be used according to a doctor’s prescription. When people use prescription medications outside of a prescription’s guidelines, they are putting themselves at high risk for overdosing or developing addictions. Prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs when abused, so people shouldn’t think that they are being safer by abusing these substances instead of illegal drugs.
Getting Help with a Prescription Drug Abuse Problem
If you or someone you care about is struggling with a prescription medication addiction or abuse problem, please give us a call at 615-490-9376. Our admissions coordinators are available to help you find a drug rehab program that works best for you.