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NIDA

Prescription Drugs

Prescription Opioids and Heroin

Explores the relationship between prescription opioid abuse and heroin use, including prescription opioid use as a risk factor for heroin use, reasons why people progress from using prescription opioids to heroin, and the need for prevention and treatment.

Published: October 2015
Revised: December 2015

Although Relatively Few, “Doctor Shoppers” Skew Opioid Prescribing

One out of every 143 U.S. patients who received a prescription for an opioid painkiller in 2008 obtained prescriptions from multiple physicians in a pattern that suggests misuse or abuse of the drugs.

In Nationwide Survey, More Students Use Marijuana, Fewer Use Other Drugs

Almost one-third (32 percent) of the roughly 42,000 Monitoring the Future survey respondents reported having used marijuana during their lifetime. However, abuse of many other drugs—methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and some prescription medications—declined.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Examines the non-medical use of prescription drugs—opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants—describing adverse health effects of their use and the prevention and treatment of addiction.

Published: July 2001
Revised: November 2014

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications

Some medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties and, because of that, are sometimes abused—that is, taken for reasons or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana (and alcohol), the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older.

Nationwide Trends

About the Survey

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a major source of information on substance use, abuse, and dependence among Americans 12 years and older. Survey respondents report whether they have used specific substances ever in their lives (lifetime), over the past year, and over the past month (also referred to as "current use"). Most analyses focus on past-month use.

Drug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits

National estimates on drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments (ED) are obtained from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN),1,2 a public health surveillance system managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). DAWN data* are based on a national sample of general, non-Federal hospitals operating 24-hour Emergency Departments (EDs).

Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines

Stimulant medications including amphetamines (e.g., Adderall) and methylphenidate (e.g., Ritalin and Concerta) are often prescribed to treat children, adolescents, or adults diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Lessons from Prevention Research

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