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NIDA

Prescription Drug Abuse

What are some of the commonly abused prescription drugs?

Although many medications can be abused, the following three classes are most commonly abused:

  • Opioids—usually prescribed to treat pain;
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants—used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders; and
  • Stimulants—most often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Graph: Percentage of U.S. 12th Grade Students Reporting Past Month Use of Cigarettes and Marijuana, 1975 to 2010
Graph: Percentage of U.S. 12th Grade Students Reporting Past Month Use of Cigarettes and Marijuana, 1975 to 2010

This page was last updated October 2011

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This series of reports simplifies the science of research findings for the educated lay public, legislators, educational groups, and practitioners. The series reports on research findings of national interest.