Prescription drugs are a safe and effective way to treat countless medical conditions, but only when used correctly and while under a doctor’s supervision. Prescription drug abuse occurs when you take drugs that were not prescribed to you by your doctor or when you use drugs in a way that was not intended by the prescribing physician (e.g. to get high).
Each individual person reacts differently to different medications. Therefore, while a prescription medication works well for one person, another might have an adverse reaction. Additionally, certain medications react badly when mixed. Always make sure to check with your doctor before taking any prescription medications.
Did you know?
- 94% of EWU students do NOT abuse prescription drugs.
- Drug abuse affects the brain by altering a person’s memory, judgment, decision-making skills, and perception of pleasure.
- Many prescription drugs are addictive and people can develop a tolerance, meaning they need higher amounts of the same drug to feel the same effects over time.
- Prolonged abuse of prescription drugs can lead to withdrawal or overdose.
|Used to Treat||How they Work||Potential Problems|
(Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall)
|Narcolepsy, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other conditions||Speed up brain activity causing increased alertness, attention and energy, increased heart rate and breathing||Increased blood pressure can place added strain on the heart, and increase the risk of decreased respiration|
(Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Ambien)
|Anxiety, tension, panic attacks, and sleep disorders||Slow down or "depress" the functions of the brain and central nervous system||Poor concentration, confusion, dizziness, lowered blood pressure and slowed breathing.|
(Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Methadone)
|Moderate to severe pain, may be prescribed after surgery||Block pain messages from reaching the brain||Can cause respiratory depression, slow and shallow breathing|
Prescription drugs and alcohol
Stimulants are considered an “upper.” They speed up brain activity, which causes increased alertness, attention, and energy. Alcohol is considered a “downer,” which depresses the functions of the brain and central nervous system. When mixed together, stimulants and alcohol counteract one another. This may cause you to not realize the effects of alcohol on your body and lead to over-drinking. When alcohol and stimulants are mixed, you are at increased risk of alcohol-related injuries and alcohol poisoning.
Both sedatives and opioids act in the same way as alcohol, in that they depress brain and central nervous system function. By combining the sedatives and/or opioids with alcohol, you are at risk of slowed heart rate, breathing problems, and passing out.