What are prescription drugs?

Prescription drugs fall into three main classifications: pain killers (opioid drugs), stimulant drugs, and those used for anti-anxiety or muscle relaxants (benzodiazepines).

Prescription Drug Basics

Prescriptions drugs abuse can be done in numerous ways: overuse of a prescription intended for the user, taking the prescribed medication(s) under circumstances not intended for use of that specific medication(s), or taking medicines that are not specifically prescribed for use by the person taking them. All of these abuses of medication can increase the risk of addiction and dependence, as well as creating health and legal consequences. Prescription Drug Classes Associated with Abuse What are the drugs of abuse? How are they differentiated?

Prescription Drug Effects

Prescription drugs will be discussed in the three categories primarily used for classifying types, which are: Opioid medications - Mostly pain relief medications, such as Fentanyl, Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycodone, Demerol, Dilaudid, Morphine and opiate-based drugs, some of which are synthesized by pharmaceutical manufacturers. These drugs operate by suppressing the central nervous system. The immediate effects of opioid medication are drowsiness, constipation, and decreased heart rate and breathing. Dependence on opioid medication is quickly developed.

Prescription Drug Dangers

There are numerous risks to be discussed with prescription medication abuse. The first of these is overdose. The leading cause of accidental death in the United States, this danger does not have any markers that can significantly determine who will be at risk. A wealthy housewife in the suburbs, an inner city teen, or a physician himself may be at risk for overdose on prescription drugs. Anyone can become an abuser of these medications, by the very nature of their legality, purposes and frequency of use in our culture.


From the onset of use, some prescription drugs are more addictive than others. There are certain people who will become addicted to specific drugs because they enjoy the sensations induced by the drugs. While some do not like the side effects of drugs and do not develop addictions, addiction to prescription medication is the fastest growing health concern faced in the US. Abuse of prescribed medications is the single largest cause of accidental death in the U.S.

Prescription Drugs Mixing

Mixed with other drugs—whether they are prescription narcotics, street narcotics, over-the-counter medications, marijuana, or alcohol—prescription medications can become lethal. Now the highest cause of accidental death in the US, prescription drug mixing is a serious and fatal decision.

Prescription Drugs Legalities

Prescription medications (all classes discussed in this article) are legal under certain parameters in this and most other countries. What makes their use/abuse illegal is when those parameters are crossed or violated. Reasons can include illegal possession, distribution, and the selling of prescription drugs to outside users.

Prescription Drug Testing

Most agencies rely on urine samples as a standard tool for testing for prescription drugs in the system of the user. This is the most cost effective and simple test to procure. Other tests that can detect prescription drugs in the body of a user are blood sample testing, oral liquid sample testing (saliva), hair sample testing, and sweat sample testing. The two most frequently used and most effective, overall, are urine sample drug testing and oral liquid sample drug testing.

Prescription Drugs FAQ

Will I become addicted to prescription drugs? What drugs are dangerous to mix with prescription drugs? These and many more questions about prescription drugs answered in our FAQ.