Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans age 14 and older, after marijuana and alcohol. When prescription drugs are abused, they can be addictive and put the person at risk for other harmful health effects, such as overdose (especially when taken along with other drugs or alcohol). And, abusing prescription drugs is illegal—and that includes sharing prescriptions with family members or friends.
Prescription drugs are designed to treat a specific illness or condition, but they often affect the body in other ways, some of which can be dangerous. These are called side effects. For example, OxyContin stops pain, but it also causes constipation and sleepiness. Stimulants, such as Adderall, increase a person’s ability to pay attention, but they also raise blood pressure and heart rate, making the heart work harder. These side effects can be worse when prescription drugs are not taken as prescribed or are abused in combination with other substances—including alcohol, other prescription drugs, and even over-the-counter drugs, such as cold medicines. More than half of the drug overdose deaths in the United States each year are caused by prescription drug abuse. (NIDA)
In Clinton County, our 2013-2014 MiPHY survey shows more than 5% of 11th grade students are abusing Ritalin, Adoral, Xanax and almost 5% of 9th grade students are abusing painkillers such as OxyContin.