Breaking Bad at the Pharmacy


Today the abuse of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana and alcohol for Americans age 14 and older. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is calling it an epidemic, so we are presenting you with a list of the top ten most abused prescription drugs. They fall under three categories: opioids for pain, depressants of the central nervous system and stimulants for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

Seventy-five percent of all pharmaceutical overdose deaths are from opioids, and the death rate has increased over the past decade. The number one abused drug, Oxycontin, comes from this category, as does number nine, Opana ER, for severe and chronic pain. Number two is Suboxone, which helps with opioid dependence.

Depressants comprise four of the top ten abused prescription drugs. Number ten is Xanax, with street names such as Xany and blue footballs. It is for anxiety but college students call it the party drug because it creates a sense of well-being. The other depressants are Zoloft, a mood altering drug, and sleeping aids Lunesta and Ambien. When abused these drugs cause hallucinations.

The rest are stimulants and include Adderal, which is commonly used for ADHD. College students abuse it to stay awake and focused studying for final exams. Ritalin is a similar drug and is number five, while Concerta comes in at three. These drugs can cause irregular heartbeat, heart failure, siezures, and paranoia or hostility.

While we shouldn't outlaw these drugs, we do need to regulate and educate. Some people may be innocently sharing their prescription drugs while users may be ignorant to the full implications of their abusive habits.

More Information

DrugFacts: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
National Institute of Drug Abuse website that has comprehensive information about these drugs that are abused. Great reference site.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs Chart
National Institute of Drug Abuse website that has comprehensive information the drugs that are commonly abused.

Prescription Drug Abuse
The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) address the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse.