Learn About Prescription Drug Misuse

Prescription drugs are meant to help us, but they can also harm us. When prescription drugs are misused, they can cause serious harm, even death, to those who misuse them. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017 an estimated 18 million people misused prescription drugs.

Despite their beneficial effects, many prescription drugs also have negative effects, and the effects of overdosing can be fatal. As prescription drug misuse has increased, so have prescription-drug-related emergency room visits and overdose deaths.

Key Facts about Prescription Drug Misuse

Opioids—Prescription Pain Relievers

Opioids are a type of prescription drug that attach to opioid receptors in the brain to block the brain from sending pain messagesto the rest of the body. There are many kinds of opioids, including, but not limited to, methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Opioid pain relievers are the most commonly misused class of prescription drug followed by depressants and stimulants.

Anyone who uses prescription opioids can contract opioid use disorder. Other side effects include increased tolerance, dependence, sensitivity to pain, constipation, nausea and vomiting, sleepiness, dizziness, confusion, depression, low levels of testosterone, and itching or sweating.

Unfortunately, only one in four people who need treatment for opioid use disorder will get it, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Treating opioid use disorder can involve medication-assisted treatment, self-help programs, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

If you’re concerned about you or someone else, get help at