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Addiction Treatment California

Prescription Medications

Prescription Medications are effective in treating various health conditions. However, more than 16 million Americans abuse prescription meds yearly.

Knowing more about prescription meds can be crucial.

What are Prescription Medications?

Prescription medications are medications given by a doctor’s prescription. The opposite of prescription meds is over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

Those types of drugs do not need a doctor’s prescription.

What is Prescription Medication Abuse?

Prescription medication abuse is using meds in a way not prescribed by your doctor. Sometimes, these drugs might not even be given by a doctor.

It also includes the method of taking it. For example, snorting instead of injecting it or swallowing.

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

What are the Most Abused Prescription Medications?


Stimulants increase body alertness and can make a person energetic. They are usually used to treat obesity, depression, ADHD, and asthma.

Side effects of stimulants include higher blood and sugar levels. Examples of stimulants include

  • Vyvanse
  • Methylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine

People abuse stimulants by taking larger doses. When abused, it can cause uneven heartbeat as well as severe addiction.


Opioids are more intense painkillers that are effective in managing long-term pain.

Examples include codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

Opioids can be addictive if used for long periods. An overdose of opioids can be fatal if taken with alcohol.

Always follow the doctor’s prescription when using opioids.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

This medication is used to treat sleep disorders and anxiety. CNS depressants work by acting on the gamma-aminobutyric acid in your brain.

Depressants make you feel drowsy or less alert. Examples of CNS depressants include barbiturates. Depressants can also treat seizures.

Abuse of depressants leads to dependence or addiction. An abrupt stop or reduction in dosage can lead to withdrawal symptoms or death.

Why Are Prescription Drugs Abused?
  • Social or peer pressure
  • To feel high or some sort of euphoria
  • To deal with traumatic experiences
  • To see if it improves academic performances
  • To prevent withdrawal symptoms
  • To remain alert

What are The Symptoms of Prescription Medications Abuse?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of prescription meds being abused.

  • Paranoia
  • Uneven heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Extreme mood swings
CNS Depressants
  • Mood Swings
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired motor functions
  • Slower reflexes
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Drowsiness
  • Slow breathing

Who is at Risk of Abusing Prescription Drugs?

  • People who disregard the doctor’s prescriptions are more likely to abuse prescription meds.
  • Family History – People with relatives who abuse prescription meds are more vulnerable.
  • Accessibility – People with easier access to prescription meds are more likely to abuse it
  • Ignorance – Not having enough knowledge of prescription drugs increases the chances of abuse
  • Gender – Males are more likely to abuse prescription meds than females.

What is the Danger of Seniors Abusing Prescription Drugs?

The percentage of seniors abusing prescription meds is growing, and a big chunk of that number abuse opioids.

Seniors with multiple health conditions who abuse these drugs put themselves in grave danger. They can become dependent on it or even die from an overdose.

It’s a more complicated matter if these drugs are taken with alcohol. Seniors need to be aware of the dangers of abusing prescription meds.

Always follow the doctor’s prescription.

What are the Consequences of Abusing Prescription Medications?

  • Low blood pressure
  • High blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing – In worst-case scenarios, the user can slip into a coma
  • Seizures
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Addiction or climbing tolerance levels
  • Increase in criminal activities
  • Reckless or impulsive behaviors
  • Reduced performance at school

How Is Prescription Drug Abuse Diagnosed?

A doctor usually makes the diagnosis. To make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask you questions regarding your medical history.

They also ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing.

Blood or urine tests will also be taken. These tests can reveal the types of drugs in your body or if you have a physical condition.

How Is Prescription Drug Abuse Treated?

Detoxing and Withdrawal

The first step is to stop using these meds. Detoxification is used to remove all traces of the drug from your body.

We recommend that you undergo detoxification under medical supervision. Detoxing usually takes 3-7 days.

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after detoxing is normal. Medications can be used to reduce the intensity of the symptoms.


The type of medication depends on the drug that was abused.


There are no drugs recommended explicitly for stimulants. The best way to manage withdrawal symptoms is to taper off drug usage.

Your doctor might also treat some symptoms separately, such as insomnia or depression.


Many medications can be used. They include

  • Buprenorphine – This drug focuses on dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Most doctors may prescribe Suboxone or Zubsolv along with it.
  • Clonidine – This drug reduces high blood pressure, which is usually one of the withdrawal symptoms
  • Vivitrol – Doctors might inject users with this drug monthly to help them fight against relapse.
  • Naloxone – This is like an antidote to an overdose of prescription meds.

CNS Depressants

Tapering off is the best way to recover from this drug abuse. Your doctor might also prescribe other drugs based on your withdrawal symptoms.

Counseling and Group Support

Support groups and counseling can also be beneficial. They offer encouragement and fight against relapse.

Most rehab facilities offer this feature.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT retrains the user’s habits and inclinations. Patients are encouraged to develop positive traits. They are also able to manage their addiction and dependence better.

CBT reduces the chances of a relapse.

How Can It Be Prevented?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), abuse of prescription meds can be avoided by following these guidelines

  • Use only the prescription drugs given by the doctor. Do not let others use your prescription drugs. Keep them out of sight.
  • Follow the prescriptions given by the doctor, especially the dosage level.
  • Understand how the prescribed drug works and its side effects
  • Learn more about combining your drugs with other substances such as alcohol
  • Do not crush or break your pills
  • Make sure you are truthful with your doctor about your medical history

Substances That Should Not be Combined With Prescription Drugs

The general rule is that CNS depressants should never be combined with opioids as they contradict each other. Other substances that should not be combined with CNS depressants include

  • Allergy medications
  • Alcohol

Apart from CNS depressants, opioids should not be combined with

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Sedatives
  • Antihistamines

Stimulants do not work well with the following types of medications

  • Decongestants
  • Drugs used to treat asthma
  • Antidepressants

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

Contact your doctor immediately if you have abused prescription medications. Reach out to California Prime to start your recovery today.

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