Prescription Drug Abuse


Photo credit: S.F.P.
Photo credit: S.F.P.


Short-term effects of opioids and morphine derivatives include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constipation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Nausea
  • Coma


Continued use or abuse of opioids can result in physical dependence and addiction. The body adapts to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped. These include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”). Tolerance can also occur, meaning that long-term users must increase their doses to achieve the same high.

For more information about the abuse of painkillers, see The Truth About Painkillers.

“A ‘friend’ of mine turned me on to oxys. I started with 40 mg tabs, then after a couple of months I bumped up to 60 mgs. I was really addicted by this point and started chewing them to get off quicker so I wouldn’t be sick. Had to have one in the morning when I got up or I’d be sick. Had to have another before noon. Then a couple more in the afternoon and evening. I knew I was hooked because I had to have them to function. I felt horrible without them. Not only physically, but I couldn’t deal with people or life without them. Then I went to 80 mgs and my world came tumbling down. I started stealing from everyone I knew to get my fix....” Charleen


  1. “Drug Scheduling,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
  2. “Selected Prescription Drugs with Potential for Abuse,” National Institute on Drug Abuse
  3. International Narcotics Control Board
  4. Office of Drug Control Policy
  5. “Prescription Sedatives & Tranquilizers,” Partnership for
    a Drug-Free America
  6. Statement by Leonard J. Paulozzi before Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crimes and Drugs, 12 March 2008
  7. Center for Substance Abuse Research
  8. National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2007
  9. Suicidality, violence and mania caused by SSRIs: A review and analysis, P. Breggin.
  10. “Depressants,” US Department of Health & Human Services and SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information
  11. “Prescription drugs a gateway for teen drug abuse,” Houston Chronicle, 4 September 2008