En español
NIDA

Prescription Drugs

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: October 2011

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

A major source of information on substance use, abuse, and dependence among Americans aged 12 and older is the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Following are facts and statistics on substance use in America from 2012, the most recent year for which NSDUH survey data have been analyzed.

High School and Youth Trends

Every year, the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey measures drug, alcohol, and tobacco use and related attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. Following are facts and statistics about youth substance use from the 2013 MTF report

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).

Drugged Driving

Use of any psychoactive (mind-altering) drug makes it highly unsafe to drive a car and is illegal—just like driving after drinking alcohol. Drugged driving puts at risk not only the driver but also passengers and others who share the road.

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).

Pages

Subscribe to Prescription Drugs