Prescription drugs account for the second most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs. Prescription drug abuse poses a unique challenge because of the need to balance prevention, education, and enforcement, with the need for legitimate access to controlled substance prescription drugs. The three classes of prescription drugs that are most commonly abused and the risks involved with each are:
Opioids, which are most often prescribed to treat pain – examples include: codeine, oxycodone (Oxycontin and Percocet), and morphine (Kadian and Avinza).
Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants, which are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders – examples include: barbiturates (Mebaral and Nembutal) and benzodiazepines (Valium and Xanax).
Stimulants, which are prescribed to treat the sleep disorder narcolepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obesity – examples include: dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta).