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Drug Abuse: Prescription Medications

Prescription Drugs

Topics on Drug Abuse:
Getting It Straight
Marijuana
Club Drugs
Inhalants
Methamphetamine
Hallucinogens
Cocaine and Crack
Heroin
Prescription Medications
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From the Mentors
As you probably know, prescription drugs can really improve a person's life if given to him or her by a doctor and used in the right way. But it's becoming more and more common these days for people to abuse these drugs, especially because they may be easier to get.

Opioids

What it is:

This is the official name for a group of drugs that are usually prescribed because they help relieve pain. Some of the opioids that you may have heard of are morphine, codeine, and others that have "brand names" like oxycodone (OxyContin), propoxyphene (Darvon), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid).

You may be thinking: "If doctors use these drugs to relieve pain, how can they be bad for us?" The difference is that when a prescription drug is "abused," it's not being used correctly, and this can lead to big problems.

People who use it may experience:

  • Euphoria, a rush of well-being
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Depressed breathing

The big, serious health risks are:

  • Taking a large single dose could cause severe breathing problems or be fatal.

Using opioids is a problem because:

  • Opioids may interact with other medications and are only safe to use with other drugs under a doctor's supervision.

  • Users develop tolerance, meaning that they eventually need more and more of the drug to get the same effect.

  • Stopping use of these drugs can cause withdrawal symptoms that include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and involuntary leg movements.

Ritalin
Also known as kibbles and bits, pineapple

What it is:

Ritalin is a medication prescribed for people (usually kids) who have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin is a pill or tablet that has a calming effect on those who take it as medication. Some people abuse the drug by crushing it up and then snorting the powder or injecting it as a liquid. When abused, Ritalin acts as a stimulant (similar to methamphetamine or cocaine).

People who use it may experience:

  • Euphoria, a "rush" of well-being
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Rashes and itching
  • Abdominal pain
  • Psychotic (crazy) episodes
  • Sensation of bugs or worms under the skin
  • Paranoia, the feeling that people are out to get you or that something bad will happen
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitions of movements or meaningless tasks

The big, serious health risks are:

  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Muscle twitching and tremors
  • Fevers
  • Convulsions
  • Dangerously irregular heartbeat and breathing

Using Ritalin can be a problem because:

  • Injecting crushed Ritalin tablets can lead to blockage of small blood vessels.

  • Withdrawal (the effects of stopping the drug) can lead to severe depression.

In the next section, we answer some of Your Questions about drug abuse.

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Do you ever feel tempted to try a drug that was prescribed for someone you know?
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        curious and
        it's right there.
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        knows what it
        would do to me.
I have a few
        times, but
        decided not to
        go through
        with it.


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