Nearly 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, which leads to almost 34,000 unintentional deaths annually. In recent years, several high profile deaths, including those of Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, Brittany Murphy, and Heath Ledger, were linked to prescription drug overdoses.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs usually fall into one of four categories:
- Pain Relievers: Also known as opioids, these include several prescription medications that are often prescribed to manage pain after major surgeries and include familiar names like hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, and codeine.
- Tranquilizers: Sometimes also referred to as benzos, tranquilizers are often prescribed to assist patients with anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia issues – think drugs like Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Ambien, and Restoril. Even when taken as prescribed, these drugs can be highly addictive and difficult to get off of.
- Stimulants: Commonly prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy, stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Xanax, are also referred to as “uppers” because they make the user feel awake and full of energy.
- Sedatives: By suppressing the central nervous system, sedatives create a calming effect, and like tranquilizers, are commonly prescribed to patients suffering from anxiety, tension, and insomnia. The primary difference between sedatives and tranquilizers is their chemical composition – sedatives are barbiturates (derived from barbituric acid), while tranquilizers are benzodiazepines. Common sedative medications include Amytal, Butisol, Luminal, and Seconal.
It’s important to locate a drug rehabilitation facility that specializes in the patient’s specific prescription drug addiction, as the detoxification process and withdrawal symptoms are different for each type of drug.