Also Called: 
Hillbilly Heroin, oxy, percs, vikes, happy pills, benzos, downers, sleeping pills, tranks, uppers, Vitamin R

What are Prescription Drugs?

Examples:  OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Demerol, Codeine, Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Ambien, Dexedrine, Adderall, Ritalin

Prescription drugs are pills that come in many different shapes and colours. They are legal and helpful to use when a doctor orders them to treat your medical problem. People with problems with pain, anxiety, depression and other health conditions, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) get a prescription from a doctor to buy these drugs from the pharmacy.

Prescription drugs are sometimes sold on the street like other illegal drugs. Some people try prescription drugs to help them have more fun, lose weight, fit it, and even study better. They can be taken whole, or crushed into a powder which is snorted (sniffed through a tube into the nose) or injected with a needle.

They can be easier to get than street drugs because family members or friends may have them. Taking these drugs without a prescription — or sharing a prescription drug with friends — is actually breaking the law and it can be very dangerous.

Effects of Prescription Drugs

There can be many different kinds of effects from taking prescription drugs when you don’t need them for your medical condition. If you do not have pain and you take pain pills, you might feel a rush and a good feeling all over, but they can also make you want to throw up or make you very sleepy. 

Stimulants, or “uppers” such as Adderall can give you energy, make you more alert, and help you to concentrate, but also they also raise your blood pressure and heart rate.

Some people mix alcohol and Valium to get high, but both drugs can slow your breathing. Taken together, this could stop you from being able to breathe at all, and you could die.

Problems using Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are only safe for the people who actually have prescriptions for them. The doctor has told them exactly how they should take the medicine, including things to avoid while taking the drug — such as drinking alcohol, smoking, or taking other medications. The doctor knows about the sometimes dangerous side effects of the drugs and can make sure people take them in the safest way possible.

Because there can be many variations of the same drug, the dose and how long it stays in your body can be different each time. The person who doesn't have a prescription might not really know which drug or how much they are taking.

Taking too many stimulants (like some ADHD drugs) may cause your heart to stop or make you have a seizure. The risk is greater when you mix stimulants with other medicines — even over -the-counter ones like certain cold medicines. Taking too much of a stimulant can make your body temperature go up too high or give you an irregular heartbeat. Taking a lot, again and again, over a short period of time can make you aggressive or paranoid.

Ritalin may seem harmless because it's prescribed even for little kids with ADHD. But when a person takes it when they don’t have ADHD or in a way it wasn’t intended to be used, Ritalin toxicity can happen— and it’s serious.

Probably the most common problem caused by prescription drug use is addiction. The reason many drugs have to be prescribed by a doctor is because some of them are quite addictive. The feelings these drugs give people can cause them to use the drugs more and more often so they become a habit that's hard to break. That's one of the reasons most doctors won't usually renew a prescription unless they see the patient — they want to make sure the patient is not getting addicted.

Using someone else's prescription is illegal. So is letting a friend use yours. Pharmacists won't refill a prescription if a medication has been used up before it should be. And if you're found giving medication to someone else, it's considered a crime.

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