En español
NIDA

Menu

Messages From the Director

Increased Abuse of Prescription Drugs is Cause for Concern

NIDA Director Nora Volkow

March 2004

Recent news stories have highlighted the increasing number of teens and adults abusing prescription drugs, particularly painkillers.

For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse's 2003 Monitoring the Future survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders found that 10.5 percent of 12th graders reported using Vicodin for non-medical reasons and 4.5 percent of 12th graders reported using OxyContin without a prescription.

Painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin are opiates and are very powerful medications against pain, but they need to be taken under close supervision of a doctor. These same medications when taken inappropriately can cause addiction for they act on the same places in the brain as does heroin.

These painkillers can be very effective in treating individuals with the medical need for these medications; however, using these drugs without the supervision of a physician or for purposes different from their intended use can lead to serious adverse consequences, including death from overdose.

As a physician, I want to raise awareness among other doctors about the potential for abuse of these drugs; however, I don't want to alarm them and their patients who have a legitimate medical need for painkillers and other prescription drugs.

I also want to remind young people, their parents and others that even though prescription drugs are medications, their improper use can have serious consequences. I'd encourage parents, grandparents, and other adults to check their medicine cabinets and to discard any prescription drugs that are no longer required to treat a medical condition so that these medications are not available to be misused.

Sincerely,

Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
Director

This page was last updated March 2004

Messages from the Director

Mar 2013

Feb 2013

Jan 2013

Dec 2012

Nov 2012

Mar 2012

Feb 2012

Nov 2011

Sep 2011

Aug 2011

Jun 2011

May 2011

Feb 2011

Jan 2011

Dec 2010

Oct 2010

Apr 2010

Dec 2009

May 2009

Feb 2009

Dec 2008

Sep 2008

Aug 2008

Jan 2008

May 2007

Feb 2007

Jul 2006

Jun 2006

Oct 2005

Sep 2005

Aug 2005

Apr 2005

Mar 2005

Apr 2004

Mar 2004