Despite them being prescribed, someone can endure harmful side effects, or need detox if they become addicted to them. Whether it’s staying on a prescription for longer than necessary or using them recreationally, prescription drug abuse carries serious risks over both the short and long term. And long-term prescription drug abuse can easily lead to physical dependency and addiction.
Examples: pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax)
Doctors typically prescribe depressants to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. These medications act by slowing down normal brain function. The effects of taking depressants include feelings of drowsiness and discoordination. Large doses of depressants can hinder breathing, resulting in a coma. Long-term abuse of depressants can lead to physical dependence and addiction.
Examples: methylphenidate (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), amphetamines, and dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Concerta)
Stimulants are prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These medications elevate blood pressure and heart rate. High doses of stimulants can cause dangerously high body temperature and bring on cardiac arrest. Stimulant abuse is more common among older teens and college students. Long-term abuse of stimulants can lead to physical dependence and addiction.
Examples: morphine, codeine, oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and meperidine (Demerol)
Also known as narcotics, opiates, or opioids, painkillers are highly addictive. A large single dose can cause severe respiratory depression, leading to death. Painkillers are often abused by teens, particularly younger teens. Long-term abuse leads to physical dependence and addiction.
One of the reasons for the seriousness of the problem is that more than half of those addicted to opioids do not seek or receive help. Opioids are highly addictive drugs that doctors prescribe to treat pain. In recent years, however, it has been discovered many people taking prescription opioids for as little as 30 days developed drug dependency and addiction.
Florida’s state government has taken numerous measures to combat its opioid problem. This included the creation of a Prescription Drug Abuse Monitoring Program and the 2011 passing of the Pill Mill Law. This law banned pain management clinics from dispensing drugs and established requirements for medical examinations and follow-ups both before and after prescribing opioids.
In May 2017, Florida Gov. Rick Scott officially declared an opioid-related state of emergency, and Surgeon General Celeste Philip declared that opioid abuse was a public health emergency. The same day, the Florida Senate approved a bill that would create more stringent penalties for individuals who illegally sell synthetic drugs. One example is fentanyl, which is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine. However, despite these and other measures, overall drug overdose deaths continue to rise across Florida and the U.S.