Commonly Misused Meds PDF Print E-mail

Iowa Medicine Talk, Lock and Connect.

Narcotic Painkillers- Also called opioids, painkillers are prescribed to treat pain. When misused, these drugs cause symptoms similar to those of heroin—a surge of euphoria followed by alternating wakefulness and drowsiness and cloudy mental thinking. Opioids are often associated with addiction and fatal overdose.

Common prescription painkillers include:

  • xyContin® / Oxycodone; Street Names: oxy 80s, oxycotton, oxycet, O.C., killer, hillbilly heroin, percs
  • icodin® / Hydrocodone; Street Names: vike, Watson-387
  • Dilaudid® / Propoxyphene hydrocodone hydromorphone; Street Names: juice, dillies
  • Demerol® / Meperidine; Street Names: demmies, painkiller
  • Lomotil® / Diphenoxylate
  • Darvon® / Propoxyphene
  • Morphine
  • Codeine

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants- CNS depressants slow normal brain function and are often prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. CNS depressants should not be combined with other medications or substances that cause sleepiness, such as alcohol, prescription pain medication or some over-the-counter (OTC) allergy and cold medications. Doing so can slow heart rate and respiration, which can be fatal.

Common CNS depressants include:

  • Barbiturates:
    • Nembutal® / Pentobarbital sodium; Street Names: barbs, reds, red birds, phennies, tooies, yellows, yellow jackets
    • Benzodiazepines:
      • Valium®/ Diazepam
      • Xanax® / Alprazolam; Street Names: candy, downers, sleeping pills, tranks
      • Sleep medications:
        • Ambien® / Zolpidem
        • Sonata® / Zaleplon
        • Lunesta® / Eszopiclone

Stimulants- Stimulants are often prescribed to treat narcolepsy, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and obesity. Stimulants can provide “performance enhancement” and a means to “get high.” They increase energy, alertness and attention accompanied by increases in heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. High doses can cause an irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperature and the potential for cardiac arrest and/or seizures.

Commonly prescribed stimulants include:

  • Dexedrine® / Dextroamphetamine; Street Names: bennies, black beauties, crosses, dexies, hearts, LA turnaround, speed, truck drivers, uppers
  • Ritalin®/ methylphenidate; Street Names: JIF, MPH, R-ball, skippy, the smart drug, vitamin R
  • Adderall®/ Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, Amphetamine Aspartate, Dextroamphetamine Sulfate and Amphetamine Sulfate

Over-the-counter (OTC) Drugs- OTC medications can lead to addiction or serious adverse health consequences when misused. Dextromethorphan (DXM) is the active cough suppressant found in many OTC cough and cold medications.

Dextromethorphan® (DXM) Street Names: Robo, Triple C

  • Consuming excessive amounts of the liquid or the gel caps can impair motor function, cause numbness, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, increased heart rate and blood pressure, coma and even death.
  • DXM is often combined with other ingredients such as acetaminophen or pseudoephedrine, increasing the potential for negative effects.
  • Due to these additional risks, users often seek out products whose only active ingredient is DXM.
  • Chronic use of DXM can lead to mental impairment, loss of motor and language skills, muscle degeneration, dissociative depression and antisocial behavior.

Retail DXM Medicines
There are more than 100 OTC medicines containing DXM, including certain varieties of:

Alka-Seltzer Plus®      TheraFlu®
Coricidin®                     Triaminic®
Dimetapp®                   Vicks®
Mucinex®                      Tylenol® Cough and Tylenol® Cold
PediaCare®                   Sudafed®

Other OTC Drugs
Teens may misuse OTC drugs to achieve an idealized weight. Many start by taking just a few diet pills, but graduate to full addiction and dependence.

Commonly misused OTC drugs:

  • Laxatives
  • Diuretics (increase urination)
  • Emetics (cause vomiting)
  • Diet pills

Herbal products, or “natural” weight loss aids, can be just as dangerous as diet pills. Some of the dangerous and addictive substances found in diet pills are caffeine or phenylpropanolamine, which act as stimulants to the central nervous system and present potentially serious or fatal side effects.

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