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Prescription Drugs

In the 147 narcotic treatment programs licensed by ADP, the number of people admitted for addiction to pain relievers increased by more than 80 percent from 2006 to 2009. The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in California. You can help prevent prescription drugs from being diverted to misuse by others by disposing of them properly.

What Are They?

Prescription drugs are medicines that are prescribed to a patient by a doctor to manage pain, treat or cure a health condition such as pain, mental disease, diabetes, cancer, or common infections. These drugs are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are shown to have medical benefits when prescribed and taken exactly as directed by a health provider. For people who are suffering, these drugs allow them to control their symptoms, cure or treat their diseases, control pain, or fight an infection. However, these medicines are only safe when taken exactly as directed by a doctor, healthcare provider, or as indicated on the packaging. This includes following directions on dosages, how often to take these drugs, and never taking any drug that is not prescribed for you.

It's Illegal

Additionally, getting prescription drugs without a prescription, called "diversion" is illegal and may put you at risk for arrest and prosecution. Regardless of how you acquire a prescription medication, using these types of drugs without a valid prescription — written for you — is unsafe and illegal.

What’s the problem?

Teens are abusing some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to get high. This includes painkillers, such as those drugs prescribed after surgery; depressants, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs; and stimulants, such as those drugs prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Teens are also abusing OTC drugs, such as cough and cold remedies.

Because these drugs are so readily available, and many teens believe they are a safe way to get high, teens who wouldn't otherwise touch illicit drugs might abuse prescription drugs.

What are the dangers?

There are serious health risks related to abuse of prescription drugs. A single large dose of prescription or OTC painkillers or depressants can cause breathing difficulty that can lead to death. Stimulant abuse can lead to hostility or paranoia, or the potential for heart system failure or fatal seizures. Even in small doses, depressants and painkillers have subtle effects on motor skills, judgment, and ability to learn.

The abuse of OTC cough and cold remedies can cause blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, coma, and even death. Many teens report mixing prescription drugs, OTC drugs, and alcohol. Using these drugs in combination can cause respiratory failure and death.

1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. (2007). National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006, Table 1.5A. 2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. (2007). National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006. Office of Applied Studies 4. Treatment Episode Data Set [TEDS]. (2006). Substance abuse treatment admissions by primary substance of abuse according to sex, age group, race and ethnicity, 2004. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Other related drugs

Painkillers | Depressants | Stimulants | Ritalin