Prescription Medications

Clinically Reviewed by: Dr. Robin Campbell, LMFT, PHD

Prescription medications play a vital role in treating various health conditions, yet misuse and abuse are prevalent issues affecting millions of Americans annually. In 2021 a study came out stating that 14.3 million people reported misusing any prescription psychotherapeutic drug within the year. Prescription medication misuse affects millions of individuals each year, including possibly someone you know.

What are Prescription Medications?

Prescription drugs are medications that are prescribed by a doctor, purchased at a pharmacy, and intended for use by one specific individual. They are regulated by the FDA through the New Drug Application (NDA) process, which involves a thorough evaluation of data from animal and human studies to ensure the drug’s safety and effectiveness before it can be marketed in the United States.

What is Prescription Medication Abuse?

Prescription medication abuse refers to the misuse of medications in ways not intended by a doctor’s prescription. This can involve using drugs without a prescription or deviating from prescribed usage methods, such as snorting instead of swallowing or injecting.

Commonly Abused Prescription Medications


Stimulants increase body alertness and can make a person energetic. They are usually used to treat obesity, depression, ADHD, and asthma. However, they come with potential side effects including elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Examples of stimulants include:

Unfortunately, some individuals abuse stimulants by consuming larger doses, leading to irregular heartbeats and the risk of addiction.


Opioids are strong painkillers often prescribed to help with severe and long-lasting pain. While they can provide relief, using them for a long time can lead to addiction, which can seriously harm your health. It’s really important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully when taking opioids to reduce the risk of side effects and addiction. If you have any worries or notice any changes while taking these medications, it’s crucial to talk openly with your healthcare provider.

Examples include:

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

CNS Depressants are medications commonly used to help with sleep problems and anxiety. They work by affecting a chemical in your brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid. These medications can make you feel sleepy or less alert. Examples of CNS depressants include barbiturates. They can also be used to manage seizures. However, misusing these depressants can lead to dependence or addiction. Suddenly stopping or reducing the dosage can cause withdrawal symptoms, and in severe cases, it can even be life-threatening. So, it’s essential to use CNS depressants only as prescribed and to seek help if you’re struggling with dependence or addiction.

Why Are Prescription Drugs Abused?

Symptoms of Prescription Medications Abuse

Symptoms vary depending on the type of prescription meds being abused.



CNS Depressants

Who is at Risk of Abusing Prescription Drugs?

the Danger of Seniors Abusing Prescription Drugs

The danger of seniors abusing prescription drugs is a growing concern that we can’t ignore. Many seniors are turning to opioids, which can be incredibly risky. Misusing these medications, especially for seniors with multiple health issues, puts them in real danger. Dependence and overdose become serious threats. And when you add alcohol into the mix, things can get even more dangerous. Seniors need to understand the risks involved in misusing prescription meds and always stick to their doctor’s advice. Your health and safety should always come first.

What are the Consequences of Abusing Prescription Medications?

How Is Prescription Drug Abuse Diagnosed?

Diagnosing prescription drug abuse typically involves a doctor’s assessment. During this process, your doctor will inquire about your medical history and the symptoms you’re encountering. Additionally, blood or urine tests may be conducted to identify any drugs present in your system or to detect underlying medical conditions.

How Is Prescription Drug Abuse Treated?

Detoxing and Withdrawal

First, it’s crucial to stop using the medications. Under medical supervision, detoxification helps rid your body of the drug, which typically takes about 3-7 days. It’s normal to experience withdrawal symptoms afterward, such as nausea, anxiety, and muscle pain, but medications can help ease the discomfort.


The type of medication depends on the drug that was abused.


There are no drugs recommended explicitly for stimulants, so the focus is on gradually reducing usage to manage withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor may also address individual symptoms like insomnia or depression with appropriate medications.


For opioids, medications like Buprenorphine can target dependence and withdrawal symptoms, while Clonidine helps with high blood pressure often associated with withdrawal. Vivitrol is administered monthly to prevent relapse, and Naloxone acts as an antidote in cases of overdose.

CNS Depressants

Tapering off is the best way to recover from this drug abuse. Your doctor might also prescribe other drugs based on your withdrawal symptoms.

Counseling and Group Support

Joining Support groups and participating in counseling sessions offer valuable encouragement and assistance in preventing relapse. Many rehab facilities provide these supportive resources.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a helpful tool in reshaping behaviors and habits, empowering individuals to develop positive coping strategies, and effectively managing addiction. It’s known to significantly reduce the risk of relapse.

How Can It Be Prevented?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), abuse of prescription meds can be avoided by following these guidelines

Substances That Should Not be Combined With Prescription Drugs

The general rule is that CNS depressants should never be combined with opioids as they contradict each other. Other substances that should not be combined with CNS depressants include:

Apart from CNS depressants, opioids should not be combined with:

Stimulants do not work well with the following types of medications:

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

Contact your doctor immediately if you have abused prescription medications. If you or a loved one is struggling with Prescription Medication Addiction, reach out to New Hope Healthcare at 866-806-1207 to start your recovery today.

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At New Hope Health in Tennessee, we offer free insurance verification for our clients who feel they need some help. When you contact us, we will carry out the thorough analysis of your addiction problem, and then recommend a workable drug treatment program. Next, we will contact your insurance provider on your behalf and verify your benefits. We will also let you know if you will be responsible for any out-of-pocket expense not covered under your plan.

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