Prescription Drug Misuse Information

Prescription drug misuse occurs when someone uses a medication that was prescribed for someone else, or when someone uses their own medication in a way not intended by their doctor. Prescription drug misuse can affect all age groups. Regardless of age, there are many reasons someone might misuse prescription medications, such wanting to “fit in,” feel good or get high, relieve depression and anxiety, help them cope with life’s stresses, sleep better or increase their alertness and concentration power, or even becoming addicted to medication originally prescribed for pain. Whatever the reason, people often believe that prescription medications provide a legal and “medically safe high,” since they are prescribed by a doctor.

The three most commonly misused classes of medications are opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants. See the chart below for specific medication names, their effects, and their street names.

Most Commonly Misused Medications Example Medications Example Physical Health Effects Example Street Names*
Opioids – used primarily to treat pain; can be found in some cough medicines

Opioids pain relievers appeal to people because they can produce quick, intense feeling of pleasure followed by a sense of well-being and a calm drowsiness

Note: Many people who abuse prescription opioids move on to heroin, which has similar health effects when abused.

  • Vicodin
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Percodan
  • Duragesic
  • Demerol
  • Opana
  • Darvon
  • Dilaudid
  • Lomotil
  • Adian
  • MS Contin
  • Oramorph SR
  • Ultram
  • Over-the-counter medicines such as Tylenol with Codeine and Robitussin with Codeine
  • Pain relief
  • Poor coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Euphoria (feeling high)
  • Confusion
  • Slowed breathing
  • Death
  • Increased risk of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases from injecting these drugs through shared needles
When mixed with alcohol, opioids can cause slowing of the heart rate and breathing leading to coma or death.
  • Hillbilly Heroin
  • Oxy, OC, Oxycotton
  • Percs
  • Happy Pills
  • Vikes
  • Captain Cody, Cody
  • Lean, Schoolboy, Sizzurp
  • Purple drank, China Girl
  • Apache
  • Dance Fever
  • Friend
  • Goodfella
  • Jackpot
  • Murder 8
  • Tango and Cash
  • TNT
  • D, Dillies
  • Footballs
  • Juice, Smack
  • Demmies
  • Pain killer
  • Biscuits, blue heaven
  • Mrs. O, O Bomb, Octagons
  • Stop Signs
Central nervous system depressants (also known as tranquilizers and sedatives) – used primarily to treat anxiety and sleep disorders

Depressants appeal to people because they cause euphoria or relaxation and sleep

  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Ambien
  • Lunesta
  • Nembutal
  • Mebaral
  • Seconal
  • Soma
  • Phenobarbital
  • Klonopin
  • Librium
  • Halcion
  • Ativan
  • Rozerem
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor concentration
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with movement and memory
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing
  • Increased risk of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases from injecting these drugs through shared needles
When mixed with alcohol, sedatives further slows the heart rate and breathing, which can lead to death.

Some sleep medications are sometimes used as date rape drugs.

  • Barbs
  • Reds, Red Birds
  • Phennies
  • Tooies
  • Yellows, Yellow Jackets
  • Candy
  • Downers
  • Sleeping Pills
  • Tranks
  • A-minus
  • Zombie pills, Forget-me pills
  • Mexican Valium
  • R2, Roffies, Roche, Rope
Stimulants – used primarily to treat ADHD and narcolepsy

Stimulants appeal to people because they help them lose weight, increase their alertness, attention and energy, create feelings of extreme joy, give them energy to stay awake, increases their concentration, or make them become more talkative

  • Dexedrine
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Focalin
  • Methylin
  • Increased alertness, attention or energy
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Narrowed blood vessels
  • Reduced appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Opened-up breathing passages
  • Heart problems
  • Psychosis
  • Anger or paranoia
  • Increased risk of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases from injecting drugs through shared needles

Stimulants abused in high doses can result in dangerously high body temperature and irregular heartbeat, heart failure and/or seizures.

When mixed with alcohol, risk of alcohol overdose increases and abuser may experience increased blood pressure and jitters.

  • Skippy
  • The Smart Drug
  • Vitamin R
  • Bennies
  • Black Beauties
  • Roses, Hearts
  • Speed, Uppers
  • MPH
  • R-ball
  • LA Turnaround
  • Truck Drivers