Misuse of Medicines

Misuse of prescription drugs means taking a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed; taking someone else’s prescription, even if for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain; or taking a medication to feel euphoria (i.e., to get high). The term nonmedical use of prescription drugs also refers to these categories of misuse. The three classes of medication most commonly misused are:

  • opioids — usually prescribed to treat pain
  • central nervous system depressants (e.g. tranquilizers, sedatives, and hypnotics) — used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
  • stimulants — most often prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Return to Drug Misuse – Introduction