Prescription drugs can bring relief to people with medical conditions and chronic pain. However, if taken without a prescription or abused in another way, they can cause serious harm.
Misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Painkillers, also called opioids, are the most commonly abused prescription drugs.
Prescription drugs fall into three main groups:
- Opioids, such as Oxycontin, codeine and Vicodin.
- Depressants, such as Valium and Xanax.
- Stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin.
Misusing these medications can cause serious health consequences for teens’ still-developing bodies and brains. Short- and long-term effects may include:
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Dangerously high body temperature.
- Drowsiness or fatigue.
- Slowed or shallow breathing.
- Disorientation and lack of coordination.
- Convulsions or seizures.
- Disinhibition and lack of judgment, leading to risky behaviors.