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Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs Chart

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Offers a list prescription drugs commonly abused, including depressants, opioids and morphine derivatives, and stimulants, and provides their common and street names, how they are generally administered, and their potential health effects.

Published: September 2002
Revised: October 2011
Author: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Medications can be effective when they are used properly, but some can be addictive and dangerous when abused. This chart provides a brief look at some prescribed medications that—when used in ways or by people other than prescribed—have the potential for adverse medical consequences, including addiction.

In 2010, approximately 16 million Americans reported using a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons in the past year; 7 million in the past month.

Depressants
Name Examples of Commercial & Street Names DEA Schedule How Administered*
Barbiturates Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, Phenobarbital; barbs, reds, red birds, phennies, tooies, yellows, yellow jackets II, III, V ?Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. Schedule III drugs are available by prescription, may have five refills in 6 months, and may be ordered orally. Some Schedule V drugs are available over the counter. injected, swallowed
Benzodiazepines Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax; candy, downers, sleeping pills, tranks IV ?Schedule IV drugs are available by prescription, may have five refills in 6 months, and may be ordered orally. swallowed
Sleep Medications Ambien (zolpidem), Sonata (zaleplon), Lunesta (eszopiclone); forget-me pill, Mexican Valium, R2, Roche, roofies, roofinol, rope, rophies IV ?Schedule IV drugs are available by prescription, may have five refills in 6 months, and may be ordered orally. swallowed, snorted

Intoxication Effects - Sedation/drowsiness, reduced anxiety, feelings of well-being, lowered inhibitions, slurred speech, poor concentration, confusion, dizziness, impaired coordination and memory

Potential Health Consequences - lowered blood pressure, slowed breathing, tolerance, withdrawal, addiction; increased risk of respiratory distress and death when combined with alcohol

Also, for barbiturates - euphoria, unusual excitement, fever, irritability/life-threatening withdrawal in chronic users

Opioids and Morphine Derivatives**
Name Examples of Commercial & Street Names DEA Schedule How Administered*
Codeine Empirin with Codeine, Fiorinal with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine; Captain Cody, Cody, schoolboy; (with glutethimide: doors & fours, loads, pancakes and syrup) II, III, V ?Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. Schedule III drugs are available by prescription, may have five refills in 6 months, and may be ordered orally. Some Schedule V drugs are available over the counter. injected, swallowed
Morphine Roxanol, Duramorph; M, Miss Emma, monkey, white stuff II, III ?Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. Schedule III drugs are available by prescription, may have five refills in 6 months, and may be ordered orally. injected, swallowed, smoked
Methadone Methadose, Dolophine; fizzies, amidone, (with MDMA: chocolate chip cookies) II ?Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. swallowed, injected
Fentanyl & analogs Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze; Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, Tango and Cash II ?Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. injected, smoked, snorted
Other opioid pain relievers: Oxycodone HCL, Hydrocodone Bitartrate Hydromorphone, Oxymorphone, Meperidine, Propoxyphene

Tylox, Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet: Oxy, O.C., oxycotton, oxycet, hillbilly
heroin, percs
Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet; Vike, Watson-387
Dilaudid; juice, smack, D, footballs, dillies
Opana, Numporphan, Numorphone; biscuits, blue heaven, blues, Mrs. O, octagons, stop signs, O bomb
Demerol, meperidine hydrochloride; demmies, pain killer
Darvon, Darvocet

II, III, V ?Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. Schedule III drugs are available by prescription, may have five refills in 6 months, and may be ordered orally. Some Schedule V drugs are available over the counter. chewed, swallowed, snorted, injected, suppositories

Intoxication Effects - Pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness, sedation, weakness, dizziness, nausea, impaired coordination, confusion, dry mouth, itching, sweating, clammy skin, constipation

Potential Health Consequences - slowed or arrested breathing, lowered pulse and blood pressure, tolerance, addiction, unconsciousness, coma, death; risk of death increased when combined with alcohol or other CNS depressants

Also for fentanyl - 80-100 times more potent analgesic than morphine

Also for oxycodone - muscle relaxation/twice as potent analgesic as morphine; high abuse potential

Also for codeine - less analgesia, sedation, and respiratory depression than morphine

Also for methadone - used to treat opioid addiction and pain; significant overdose risk when used improperly

** Taking drugs by injection can increase the risk of infection through needle contamination with staphylococci, HIV, hepatitis, and other organisms. Injection is a more common practice for opioids, but risks apply to any medication taken by injection..

Stimulants
Name Examples of Commercial & Street Names DEA Schedule How Administered*
Amphetamines Biphetamine, Dexedrine, Adderall; bennies, black beauties, crosses, hearts, LA turnaround, speed, truck drivers, uppers II ?Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. injected, swallowed, smoked, snorted
Methylphenidate Concerta, Ritalin; JIF, MPH, R-ball, Skippy, the smart drug, vitamin R II ?Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. injected, swallowed, snorted

Intoxication Effects - Feelings of exhilaration, increased energy, mental alertness

Potential Health Consequences - increased heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism, reduced appetite, weight loss, nervousness, insomnia, seizures, heart attack, stroke

Also, for amphetamines - rapid breathing, tremor, loss of coordination, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness/delirium, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, impulsive behavior, aggressiveness, tolerance, addiction

Also, for methylphenidate - increase or decrease in blood pressure, digestive problems, loss of appetite, weight loss

Other Compounds
Name Examples of Commercial & Street Names DEA Schedule How Administered*
Dextromethorphan (DXM) Found in some cough and cold medicines; Robotripping, Robo, Triple C Not scheduled swallowed

Intoxication Effects - Euphoria, slurred speech

Potential Health Consequences - increased heart rate and blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, paranoia, distorted visual perceptions, impaired motor function

Facts About Prescription Drug Abuse

Stimulant 1.1 million, Sedatives and Tranquilizers 2.6 million, Pain relievers 5.1 millionAbout 7 Million Americans Reported Past-Month Use of Prescription Drugs for Nonmedical Purposes in 2010

What types of prescription drugs are abused?

Three types of drugs are abused most often:

  • Opioids—prescribed for pain relief
  • CNS depressants—barbiturates and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety or sleep problems (often referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers)
  • Stimulants—prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the sleep disorder narcolepsy, or obesity.

Past year use - MJ 34.8%, Vicodin 8%, DXM 6.6%, Addderal 6.5%, Tranqs 5.6%, Salvia 5.5%, Hallucinogens 5.5%, Oxy 5.1%, Sedatives 4.8%, MDMA 4.5%, Inhalants 3.6%, Cocaine 2.9%, Ritalin 2.7%After Marijuana, Prescription and Nonmedical use of Over-the-Counter Medication Account for Most of the Commonly Abused Drugs

How can you help prevent prescription drug abuse?

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about your medication, especially if you are unsure about its effects.
  • Keep your doctor informed about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications.
  • Read the information your pharmacist provides before starting to take medications.
  • Take your medication(s) as prescribed.
  • Keep all prescription medications secured at all times and properly dispose of any unused medications.

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This page was last updated October 2011