Prescription Drugs

What are Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs are medicines that are prescribed by a doctor to manage pain, to treat a health condition such as diabetes, cancer, or infection, or to treat a mental or emotional condition such as anxiety or depression. Many types of prescription medications can be abused. The most common are:

Pain Relievers

  • Pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin are the most abused of all prescription drugs. Like sedatives, tranquilizers and alcohol, they are depressants. They slow the nervous system, reducing breathing and heart rate. When depressants are combined with each other, the effect can be deadly.


  • Adderall and Ritalin are stimulants that are prescribed to control the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder. They work by releasing adrenaline, which increases the heart rate and raises blood pressure.

Sedatives and Tranquilizers

  • Ativan (Lorazapem), Valium (Diazepam) and Xanax (Alprazolam) are prescribed to treat anxiety or insomnia. Like pain relievers and alcohol, sedatives are depressants. That means they slow the nervous system.

Street names:

OxyContin (Oxy, O.C.), Percocet (Percs), Vicodin (Vike), Vitamin K

Did you know?

  • When combined with alcohol, pain relievers and sedatives can cause a serious drop in heart rate and breathing that can lead to death.
  • Painkillers are highly addictive. People who abuse painkillers, particularly OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and/or Codeine, often become addicted to heroin because heroin is much cheaper.
  • In New Hampshire 1 in 6 teens have used prescription drugs without a prescription.

Dangerous because:

  • Pain relievers can cause dangerously low breathing and accidental overdose.
  • They are highly addictive.
  • Abuse leads to heroin use.
  • High doses of a stimulant may result in dangerously high body temperatures and an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to a heart attack or fatal seizure.
  • Misuse of stimulants can cause confusion, depression, insomnia and severe anxiety.
  • The combination of stimulants with other stimulants, or with alcohol or marijuana increases the risk of serious side effects and even death.

Signs of use:

  • Prescription drugs are missing.
  • Web browser history shows websites where prescription drugs can be purchased, or sites that contain information about the effects of prescription drugs.
  • A person’s social behavior changes drastically.

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