A prescription drug is a medication which is prescribed by a medical doctor. These tend to be medications that you are not able to get over the counter at a pharmacy. Dependency on a prescription medication can occur after taking a prescribed substance for an extended period of time. This can happen even if the individual is taking the medication as prescribed by the attending physician. Most commonly, prescription drug dependency happens when an individual is taking the medication in higher dosages than prescribed, or taking it for extended periods in time. Prescription drug abuse is when an individual takes medication not as intended in order to get a high, or for a reason that the user finds justifiable.
The common types of medications that cause dependency and are abused are opioids, stimulants, or anti- anxiety. Many times an individual will have physical withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking this medication. Though dependency is different from addiction, it can grow into a substance abuse issue. Abusing these medications can be very dangerous if mixed with other substances and cause issues in other areas of the users life.
There are three distinct categories of prescription medications that are most frequently abused. Opioids, which are most frequently used to treat severe pain. Opioid medications prescribed are codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, tramadol, among others. Central nervous system (CNS), also referred to as anti-depressants, including tranquilizers, sedatives, and hypnotics, are often used to treat anxiety and sleep apnea. CNS medications prescribed that are most commonly abused are benzodiazepines, such as Valium, alprazolam, generically referred to as Xanax. The final category is stimulants, which are commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2016). The most commonly abused stimulant is Adderall and Vyvanse.