Hundreds of various drugs play a role in the prescription drug epidemic America faces today.  In fact, there seems to be an abundant supply of almost any addictive substance you can imagine.  However, there are 3 specific drugs that take the lead in our current prescription drug crisis.  Do you know what they are?  Let’s take a look.

3 Drugs That Fuel the Prescription Drug Epidemic

If you tried to guess, your first choice was probably opioids.  And you’d be right.  Next in line are stimulants and depressants.  Overall, these are the most commonly abused drugs in America, and they leave a lot of devastated lives behind.

Additionally, each of the 3 drugs is highly addictive.  Also, they are each widely prescribed to treat a wide range of health issues.

For example:

  • Opioids treat severe or chronic pain.  Generally, the most commonly prescribed opioids are hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin); oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet); morphine (Kadian, Avinza); fentanyl, and codeine.
  • Stimulants treat ADHD and narcolepsy.  They speed up mental and physical processes in the body.  Common stimulants are methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta); dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine); and dextroamphetamine/amphetamine (Adderall).
  • Depressants treat anxiety, stress, and sleep disorders.  They reduce activity in the brain.  Depressants include alcohol, benzodiazepines, some opioids, barbiturates, and sleeping pills.

Even when taken as directed, some of these drugs cause dependence or addiction.  However, when misused or abused for recreational purposes, they can have significant adverse effects.

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Side Effects of Prescription Drug Misuse

Generally, abusing opioids provides the user a relaxed, euphoric state.  Conversely, stimulant abuse gives the user a sense of alertness and a “high” feeling.  Abusing depressants reduces the effects of other drugs such as stimulants.

Non-medical use of these three drugs can result in a variety of side effects such as:


  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Mental fog
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Overdose, death


  • Nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Sleep problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Erratic behavior
  • Confusion, depression
  • Increased heart rate, high blood pressure
  • Disorientation, hallucinations
  • Psychosis, panic
  • Liver, kidney, or lung damage
  • Heart attack, stroke, death


  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Dizziness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Slow breathing
  • Poor coordination
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Overdose, death

Of course, if a person combines any of the three drugs with other substances, the side effects are significantly magnified.

Why Are Prescription Drugs So Addictive?

Generally, one of the biggest problems with quitting prescription drugs is withdrawal symptoms.  When a person tries to stop using the drug, they experience intense withdrawal symptoms.  Of course, this reaction is a result of the changes in the person’s brain and body caused by the substance.

Firstly, the drugs work by activating powerful reward centers in the brain.  Over time, the body needs the drug to feel normal.  Then, if the substance is withheld, intense cravings force the person to seek more of the drug.  Consequently, continued use results in needing more and more of the drug to get the desired effects.  As a result, this cycle of drug use and withdrawal contributes to the ongoing prescription drug epidemic.

Each person reacts differently to the substances, so their experience with withdrawal will vary.  However, in some cases such as prolonged drug abuse, withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening.  Of course, seeking professional treatment for addiction withdrawal is the safest option.

Help is Available at New Beginnings

So, if you’re struggling with prescription drug abuse or addiction, contact us at New Beginnings today.  Chances are, you won’t be able to discontinue your drug use without professional guidance and treatment.

In our program, you’ll learn coping techniques and relapse prevention skills that will help you stay in recovery for a lifetime.  Also, you’ll enjoy a secure, comforting environment while you focus on healing.  Plus, our compassionate staff will ensure that you receive the respect and attention you need during this challenging time.

Call today to learn more about how we can help you get drug-free and stay that way.  Don’t wait to become one of the prescription drug epidemic statistics.