National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug Facts: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Commonly Abused Drug Charts.
National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teachers. Mind Over Matter: Prescription Drugs.
AKA: DOWNERS, BARBS, BENZOS, YELLOW JACKETS, SLEEPING PILLS
Doctors prescribe depressants to treat a variety of health conditions including anxiety, panic attacks and sleep disorders. Depressants can be divided into three groups, based on their chemistry and the specific health problem they help address. These groups include barbiturates prescribed to promote sleep; benzodiazepines to relieve anxiety; and new (non-benzodiazepinic) sleep medications used to treat sleep disorders.
AKA: UPPERS, BENNIES, BLACK BEAUTIES
Prescription stimulants affect the brain through a steady release of two neurotransmitters—dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine carries messages in the brain about feeling good, while norepinephrine helps you pay attention and focus. When prescribed and taken correctly, under medical supervision, these drugs can help treat a few health conditions, including Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Narcolepsy. Common brand-name prescription stimulants include Adderall, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Benzedrine.
AKA: CAPTAIN CODY, SIZZURP, SYRUP, DOORS & FOURS, LOADS, OXY, OXYCOTTON, HILLBILLY HEROIN, PERCS
Prescription painkillers can be helpful to those suffering with severe pain from injuries, cancer and other diseases. Prescription painkillers attach to specific parts of the brain that perceive pain called opioid receptors. These are the same receptors that heroin binds to in the brain. Under a doctor’s direction, painkillers can be vital in relieving severe pain due to physical damage, cancer or other illnesses. Unfortunately, abusing painkillers has become a serious problem. The most commonly abused brand-name painkillers include Vicodin, Oxycodone, OxyContin and Percocet. Codeine, an opioid painkiller often found in prescription cough syrup, is also commonly abused.
Users may think that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are safer than illicit drugs, but they can be just as addictive and dangerous. When legitimately prescribed by a doctor, these medications can be beneficial to treat a variety of health problems, but when abused at too high a dose, or when combined with alcohol or other drugs, many prescription drugs can also become deadly. The most commonly abused prescription drugs fall into three categories:
AKA: PAINKILLERS, STIMULANTS AND DEPRESSANTS
Prescription painkillers not only affect the opioid receptors in the brain, they also affect the brain areas controlling respiration which can cause a severe decrease in breathing that may lead to death.
Prescription painkillers are highly addictive when used improperly, leaving a user to crave the drug and continue use despite the severe consequences to their health and life.
Depressants slow down brain activity, leading to a diminished heartbeat, sleepiness and loss of coordination. This may cause confusion, exhaustion and irritability. This is especially true when depressants are combined with alcohol or OTC medications - a combination that can lead to death.
Abusing drugs without a doctor’s supervision or monitoring can have dangerous side effects. Abusing stimulants can cause chest pain, stomach-aches, feelings of fear, irregular heartbeats, seizures, and even death.
Stimulants can be addictive and effect the cardiovascular system. High doses of stimulants raise body temperatures to dangerous levels and may cause irregular heartbeat or heart failure and seizures. Abuse of stimulants may also lead to hostility or feelings of paranoia.
When chronic users suddenly stop taking depressants, they can experience severe withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia and muscle tremors.