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Top 10 Abused Prescription Drugs

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Top 10 Abused Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs play a critical role in medicine.  Misuse of these drugs however, has earned them a place among highly toxic illicit substances that cause addiction and prematurely end lives.  Of the long list of doctor prescribed medications that are being widely abused today, there are a few that stand out as the most problematic and potentially deadly in high doses.  The following drugs have been shown through research data, emergency room visits, calls to poison control centers and coroner’s reports to cause severe drug dependency, addictions and fatalities.   

Top 10 Abused Prescription Drugs

  1. Adderall is a stimulant that has become trendy among college students. In addition to reported stories about Adderall’s addictive potential, it gained even more media attention after former Vice President Al Gore’s son was arrested for illegal possession of this drug.  According to a National Survey on drug use and Health conducted by the substance abuse and Mental Health Services administration at least 6.4% of fulltime college students in the nation engage in recreational use of Adderall in the study period.  
  2. Amphetamines is a central nervous system stimulant and a vital ingredient in many prescription medications.  Physicians prescribe Amphetamines for numerous conditions.  Diverted use of this drug has spiked in recent years.  It has also acquired some nifty street names such as Speed, Pep Pills and Uppers among others. Based on surveys, amphetamines are in in high demand by young adults and adolescents and many have already formed addictions to this drug. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) abuse of Amphetamines more than doubled between 2007 and 2011.
  3. Benzodiazepine is a common ingredient in prescription drugs like Valium, Xanax and Klonopin. Drugs that contain benzodiazepines follows the same progressive steps from dependence to addiction as any illicit street drug. The drug is known for boosting the effects of other narcotic pain relievers which explains it alarming escalation in use from 5,032 in 2000 to 33,701 by 2010.
  4. Codeine is an active ingredient in many over the counter cough medicines.  FDA reports indicate that abuse of this drug has been steadily increasing and is considered a choice substance of abuse by many drug users. In fact, approximately 33 million Americans reportedly use codeine for non-medical reasons and that number increases annually. Fatalities caused by abuse of this drug also increased by 114% over a four-year period.  
  5. Hydrocodone is listed as a Schedule II drug by the FDA with a high potential for abuse, dependence and addiction.  As an opioid alkaloid that is synthesized from codeine, it is frequently combined with acetaminophen in prescription drugs such as Vicodin and Lortab.  These drugs, experts warn, have the capacity to cause dependence within one to four weeks of continuous use. Hydrocodone and products containing this substance is recognized as the most abused prescription drugs in America today.  
  6. Methadone is a replacement drug for people battling heroin and Fentanyl addiction.  In 2006 FDA issued warnings to alert the public about the potential dangers of abusing this drug.  Since heroin abuse is at epidemic proportions and Methadone is a management medication for this addiction, it is not surprising that methadone abuse has been steadily increasing. Studies show over 4000 people have already died from complications of a methadone overdose.
  7. Fentanyl, in recent years, has stepped into the limelight as a drug of abuse to watch.  The recent trend of combining this drug with heroin has spawned a wave of overdose deaths directly linked to Fentanyl.  Media coverage about Fentanyl also resulted in an increase in interest and the number of substance abusers currently using Fentanyl.  The DEA describe the rise in Fentanyl abuse as a serious crisis citing the drug as the cause of more fatalities than vehicular accidents.  
  8. Oxycodone has been accused of causing mass addiction and multiple overdose deaths over the last twenty years.  Still the drug is one of the most heavily prescribed medications and highly abused substance in America. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services an estimated 11 million people consume at least one dose of oxycodone for non-medical purposes annually.
  9. Oxymorphone also known as Opana has made significant inroads into the American drug abuse epidemic.  In fact, since 2012 it has superseded OxyContin in popularity and is predicted to become the most common prescription drug of abuse on the market.
  10. Zolpidem’s powerful hypnotic and sedative effects has made it a popular choice for many substance abusers.  Also branded as Ambien, it is a non-benzodiazepine drug prescribed by doctors primarily for insomnia. Based on a new study, emergency room visit tied to abuse of Zolpidem products has shown a consistent and alarming annual increase in use of this drug.

Approximately seven million Americans abuse prescription drugs annually according to a 2010 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This abuse can occur from misuse of legally prescribed medications as well as through recreational or non-medical acquisition and abuse of these drugs.

Sources:

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