Commonly Abused Prescription and OTC Drugs

Almost every person will agree that Prescription and OTC drug abuse is at epidemic levels. The 2 represents what a doctor prescribes and what you can purchase without a doctor’s prescription (OTC). Both have instant and long-term consequences. As referenced by, the consequences may be serious, even deadly. Some commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids.

These involve Fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and hydromorphone. These are called pain medicines. They’re prescribed by doctors for pain related to surgery, chronic medical situations, and dental process. Opioid addiction can occur after a week of use. The risk for long-term opioid abuse increases after 5 days of taking the medicine. OTC drug abuse is common. OTC medicines treat a variety of things. These include constipation, coughs, colds, pain, fluid build-up, and more. Some commonly abused OTC medicines include cough syrups and anti-diarrheal medicines. Other abuse includes taking OTC medicine for weight loss that isn’t designed for that purpose. This involves abusing laxatives, diuretics, and OTC diet pills.

People generally abuse OTC medicine in order to get high and they take dosage more than the allowed amount for treating their symptoms. We have enlisted some commonly abused prescription and OTC (Over The Counter) drugs for your convenience.

Codeine and Morphine

As per the statement by the National Institute about Drug Abuse, one of the commonly abused prescription drugs is narcotic and opioid, pain relievers, involving codeine and morphine. These drugs are used for severe pain. Drugs such as these may be highly addictive, as well as abuse can lead to a fatal overdose. Injecting these drugs can lead to a high risk of contracting HIV.

OxyContin, Percocet

Oxycodone is another kind of opioid pain reliever. It’s found in drugs like OxyContin (which goes by the street names oxy, O.C., and oxy cotton), Percocet and Percodan (percs), or Roxicodone (roxys). These narcotic analgesics are misused by crushing pills and hence the time-release coatings are broken and abusers will get the full narcotic effects of the drug. Addiction rates are high and withdrawal symptoms may be severe.

Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet

Hydrocodone is Another opioid that can be found in drugs such as Vicodin (street name, vike, and Watson-387), Lortab, and Lorcet. These drugs contain the pain reliever acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol. Opioids are abused for their potential to produce feelings of euphoria, but opioid side impacts include constipation, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and slowed breathing.

Benzodiazepines: Valium, Xanax

Another kind of depressant is a benzodiazepine. Drugs in this class involve tranquilizers like diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), frequently prescribed for anxiety, sleep disorders, and panic attacks. They’re prescribed short-term for these conditions, as well as even with short-term use patients may have withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drugs.


Depressants, and downers, are drugs that slow the central nervous system. One type of depressant is a barbiturate, prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. Barbiturates may be addictive, or when mixed with other drugs and alcohol the effects may be fatal. Kinds of barbiturates involve phenobarbital (Nembutal), mephobarbital (Mebaral), and secobarbital (Seconal). Slang terms that are used for this drug are phennies, reds, red birds, yellow jackets, barbs, tooies, and yellows.

Sleep Medicines

Sedative medicines to treat sleep disorders such as insomnia are types of depressants. Hypnotic sedatives like zolpidem (Ambien, Ambien CR), zaleplon (Sonata), and eszopiclone (Lunesta) are classified as nonbenzodiazepines. These drugs do have a risk for dependence and withdrawal symptoms, though it’s thought to potentially be less than benzodiazepine-type medicines.

Motion Sickness Pills (Dimenhydrinate)

Dimenhydrinate is used to treat motion sickness or vertigo. The drug will cause hallucinations if taken in high doses, like irregular heartbeat, seizures, ringing in the ears, nausea, coma, and even death. The drug is frequently abused for its psychedelic properties. The drug can be deliriant when it is taken in high doses.


Stimulants are drugs that may increase heart rate and open up breathing, causing users to feel further alert and energetic. When prescribed and used appropriately, they may be efficient help in the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as depression that does not respond to other treatments. Normally abused stimulants include amphetamines like dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), amphetamine, and dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Adderall XR), used to treat ADHD. Side impacts can involve tremors, paranoia, headache, heart palpitations, panic, and hallucinations. Overdosage may be fatal.

Dextromethorphan (DXM)

An ingredient discovered in over-the-counter cough or cold medicines, dextromethorphan (DXM), is safe when taken as suggested. However, big doses can cause nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate, confusion, dizziness, and even hallucinogenic effects same to PCP. Several parents are unaware their kids can be abusing this common nonprescription medication.


The illegal drug methamphetamine (“meth”) is made using an ingredient known as pseudoephedrine, commonly discovered in over-the-counter cold medicines like Sudafed. Due to this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits the amount of pseudoephedrine that may be purchased by individuals. While you don’t need a prescription, the drug must be purchased from a pharmacist and your present identification to buy it.


Stimulant drugs like methylphenidate are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Instances of ADHD drugs that are abused involve methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate, and Methylin). When prescribed for ADHD, the doses are low. However, abusers frequently take high doses, which can cause irregular heartbeat, seizures, and even heart failure. Street names include the smart drug, MPH, R-ball, Skippy, and vitamin R.


Loperamide is a synthetic opioid that’s taken to relieve diarrhea. When taken in big enough doses, loperamide may result in a euphoric impact. An example is Imodium A-D. General adverse effects may be dry mouth, Abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, drowsiness, and dizziness.

Diphenhydramine (DPH)

This drug acts on peripheral as well as central histamine H1 receptors, and hence decreasing allergic symptoms and resulting in sedation. It’s used in sleep aids. Diphenhydramineis an effective competitive antagonist of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Hence, it can cause sinus tachycardia, psychosis, dry mouth, mydriasis, urinary retention, blurred vision, ileus, CNS depression, agitation, and hyperactivity. Because DPH has many effects, it’s used for a variety of medical conditions opening the door to abuse and misuse. It’s abused for behavioral impacts, such as elevated mood, a jolt to energy levels, and limited euphoria.


When it comes to the relief of minor aches and pains some notable headaches acetaminophen is a godsend. However, large numbers of people misuse this medication. Acetaminophen overdose may result in liver failure, as well as chronic overuse of this OTC drug can result in increased liver enzyme levels, liver damage, and toxic hepatitis. Physicians should keep in mind, a wide range of products contain acetaminophen, which can result in an unintentional overdose.

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