Prescription Drugs/ Opioids

The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes prescription drugs and abuse as follows: “Prescription drugs can help patients manage chronic or severe pain, restore emotional or behavioral balance, control sleep disorders, or fight obesity. When prescription medications are abused, however, the consequences-including addiction-can be dangerous, even deadly. NIDA’s newest Research Report focuses on the risks associated with abuse of three classes of commonly abused prescription drugs: opioids; central nervous system (CNS) depressants, including sedatives and tranquilizers; and stimulants.”

This site also provides information on opiods, CNS depressants and stimulants:

Opiods – “Opioids, include morphine, codeine, and related drugs such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and meperidine (Demerol) and are commonly prescribed to relieve pain. Opioids can produce drowsiness and, in higher doses, depress respiration. Opioid drugs also can cause euphoria.”

CNS depressants – “Among the most commonly prescribed CNS depressants are barbiturates, such as mephobarbital (Mebaral) and pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), which are prescribed to treat anxiety, tension, and sleep disorders; and benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), which typically are prescribed to treat anxiety, acute stress reactions, and panic attacks. Other benzodiazepines, such as triazolam (Halcion) and estazolam (ProSom), are prescribed for short-term treatment of sleep disorders.

Although the various classes of CNS depressants work differently, they all produce a beneficial drowsy or calming effect in individuals suffering from sleep disorders or anxiety. If one uses these drugs over a long period of time, the body will develop tolerance, and larger doses will be needed to achieve the initial effects. In addition, continued use can lead to physical dependence and, when use is reduced or stopped, withdrawal. Both barbiturates and benzodiazepines have the potential for abuse and should be used only as prescribed. As with opioids, overdose of these drugs can be fatal.”

Stimulants – “Stimulants enhance brain activity, increasing alertness, attention, and energy, raising blood pressure, and elevating heart rate and respiration. Stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) are prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and depression that has not responded to other treatments. They also may be used for short-term treatment of obesity.

Individuals may become addicted to the sense of well-being and enhanced energy that stimulants can generate. Taking high doses of stimulants repeatedly over a short time, however, can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia. Additionally, taking high doses of stimulants may result in dangerously high body temperatures and an irregular heartbeat.”

There may be several warning signs of prescription drug abuse that can help you spot a problem. These may include behavioral changes (e.g., school problems, rebellion against family rules, switching friends, sloppy appearance, lack of involvement in former interests); emotional changes (e.g., mood changes, irritability, defensiveness, ‘nothing matters’ attitude); mental changes (e.g., memory lapses, poor concentration); or physical changes (e.g., low energy, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, slurred speech). If you suspect that someone you know may have a problem with prescription drug abuse, don’t hesitate to get professional support and help. Call the Lifeways at 541-889-9167 for additional information.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse website