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Brianna Manzanares

HLTH 1050
Paul Roberts
Extra Credit
When discussing the topic of drug abuse, most people assume that the most commonly
abused drug is marijuana. While it is true that many adults do abuse marijuana, one of the most
commonly abused drug is 100% legal, can be more dangerous than marijuana and can be
obtained quite easily just by a trip to the doctor. Prescription drug abuse is currently one the most
abused type of drug in the US, coming after alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. While they are
meant to treat illnesses, many prescription drugs are highly addictive, and can be dangerous
when not used properly, with the most commonly abused being opioids, aka painkillers. Many
prescription drug abusers believe that because a doctor is prescribing these drugs that they must
be safe. However, prescription drugs have been proven to be just as dangerous as other drugs,
when not taken correctly.
Although many medications can be abused, there are three classes of drugs that are most
commonly abused, which are opioids, central nervous system depressants and stimulants.
Opioids are typically used as painkillers. Examples of opioids include morphine, oxycodone and
methadone. Central nervous system depressants are used to treat anxiety disorders. Examples of
CNS depressants include valium, xanax and zoloft. Other CNS depressants that are not
prescription drugs include alcohol and rohypnol. Stimulants are most commonly used to treat
ADHD. Examples of stimulants other than ritalin include diet pills and caffeine.
Part of the reason why prescription drugs are so dangerous is because they are easily
accessible. Someone could just go to their doctor and complain about their anxiety and walk out
with a prescription for xanax. According to the website, an estimated 52 million

people (20 percent of those aged 12 and older) have used prescription drugs for nonmedical
reasons at least once in their lifetimes. This means that a large amount of people, with easy
access to these drugs, have misused them at least once. For many, it only takes one time to
become addicted.
According to, there are 2.4 million Americans who use prescription drugs
non-medically, with over half of them being female and one-third of them being ages 12-17. The
website states that according to the 2010 MTF, prescription and OTC drugs are among the most
commonly abused drugs by 12th graders, after alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco. The website
then goes on to explain that most of these teens were either given the drugs or purchased them
from a friend or relative.
A common trend in the US is the belief that prescription drugs are safe, and that there are
no real consequences while abusing the drugs. However, according to, there are
many side effects that accompany prescription drug addiction. Side effects include euphoria,
nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, constipation and analgesia. In other words, these seemingly
safe drugs have the same signs and symptoms as other narcotics such as methamphetamine and
cocaine, depending on the drug.
After researching prescription drug addiction, one might wonder why so many people
choose to abuse them. The answer is this; alcohol and tobacco are the two most abused drugs in
the US. Both of these drugs are legal, despite the negative side effects both possess. These drugs
are readily available, as are prescription drugs. Many people who begin abusing their medication
do so because they have developed tolerance for the drug, meaning that their bodies have
become used to the feelings of euphoria that they may have once brought the user. This then

leads the user to up their dosage of their medication in order to feel something again.
Eventually, their bodies require the drug to feel normal, as with any addiction.
Personally, I believe that prescription drug abuse is something that can be fixed simply
through regulation. Although there will still be those who may have been prescribed their drug
by their doctor to later on become addicted, simple regulation by a physician could make a world
of difference. Many doctors offer refills on prescriptions without needing to see a doctor. Not
allowing refills on highly addictive prescription drugs without a visit to a doctor could easily
make the number of addicts decrease. Several prescription drug addicts are often just given a
prescription during their first visit to a doctor, making the drug so readily available. Also,
providing each patient with knowledge on the dangers of drug abuse can steer many away from
abusing their medications.
Prescription drug abuse is something that is not commonly spoken about as it has very
few outward side effects. Millions of US citizens are currently abusing drugs while not under
supervision by their doctors. Medication abuse is a serious problem in the US that can easily be
avoided through supervision of patients prescribed to highly addictive opioids, stimulants and
CNS depressants. Simple knowledge of the consequences can also steer away many potential
addicts. Although these drugs may be legal, legal does not always mean safe.

Works Cited:
Volkow, Nora D. "Prescription Drug Abuse." Drug Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1
Nov. 2014. Web. 23 Apr. 2015. <>.