Prescription Drugs

Stimulants, painkillers and depressants

Many commonly cited statistics regarding drug use on college campuses across the nation are misleading. This is because they only take into consideration illegal substances like marijuana and cocaine. Many studies completely ignore the new drug craze that’s spreading across campuses: prescription drug abuse. Though we have very little data about this problem, we’re beginning to get a picture of how prevalent and serious it is.

It seems that many college students are using prescription drugs for non-medicinal purposes because they have the mistaken impression that they are safer than street drugs. Most fail to realize that prescription drugs can be just as dangerous and addictive as illicit drugs.

What Drugs Are Abused?

There are three main types of prescription drugs that are used recreationally by college students. They are:

  • Stimulants. Prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy, these drugs cause feelings of energy, invincibility and increased mental alertness. Commercial names include Ritalin, Dexedrine and Adderall. These drugs are classified as amphetamines.
  • Painkillers. Also called opioids, these drugs cause feelings of euphoria, fatigue, confusion and nausea. Commercial names include OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Percodan, Demerol, Robitussin A-C and Tylenol with Codeine.
  • Depressants. Prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders, depressants cause feelings of well-being, confusion and lowered inhibitions. Commercial names include Valium and Xanax.

Ten Things You Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse

  • Abuse is more common than you think. Almost 10 percent of college students have used prescription drugs recreationally and 4 percent have done so within the past year. The prescription drug that’s most frequently abused is Vicodin.
  • They are easily available. Despite the fact that, in theory, no one should be able to obtain prescription drugs without a prescription, most students have no problem getting prescription drugs from their peers. A minority obtain them from family members.
  • Abuse is highest in the Northeast. Students are more likely to abuse prescription drugs if they attend a school with high academic standards and competition.
  • Abuse is highest in the Greek system. Prescription drug abuse is highest among students who are members of fraternities and sororities.
  • Abuse is highest among whites. Caucasian students are much more likely to abuse prescription drugs than African-Americans, Asians or any other racial minority.
  • There is evidence of a gateway effect. Studies have shown that students who abuse prescription drugs are as much as 20 times more likely to abuse substances like alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
  • Abusers are more likely to fail their classes. There is a strong correlation between non-medicinal use of prescription drugs and poor grades.
  • They can seriously mess with your mind. Misuse of prescription drugs can fundamentally alter the brain’s chemistry and create an addiction.
  • They can seriously mess with your behind. Stimulants can cause you to constantly feel like you have to run to the bathroom with diarrhea, while opioids can make you constipated.
  • They don’t mix with booze. When combined with alcohol, prescription drugs can be fatal.
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