Facts About Prescription Drug Abuse

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-- Prescription drug abuse is defined as taking "a prescription drug that was prescribed for someone else or in a manner or dosage other than what was prescribed." The reason for abusing the drug—whether perceived to be therapeutic or to aid in some activity—is immaterial. Abuse is abuse.

-- Abusing prescription drugs for any reason can easily lead to addiction.

-- Opioids (prescription painkillers, including Vicodin and Oxycontin) are the most commonly abused class of prescription drugs, but they aren't the only ones. Benzodiazepenes such as Xanax and central nervous system stimulants like Ritalin are close behind.

-- Despite the fact that these are pharmaceutical grade, prescription drugs can pose a threat to one's life when combined with other drugs, especially alcohol, which contributes to respiratory depression and can cause death.

-- Despite the fact that prescription drugs seem to be safer than illegal drugs such as heroin, they are not necessarily safer. They might be safe for the person who has been prescribed the drugs, but they can be as deadly or deadlier than illegal drugs when consumed by people for whom they were not prescribed. Underlying or unknown health problems can cause severe medical problems, including death, for people taking other peoples' drugs.

-- After alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drugs by teenagers.

-- Teenagers who abuse prescription drugs are also more likely to report having abused other drugs.

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