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NIDA

Prescription Medicines

What are Prescription Medicines?

When used as prescribed by a doctor, prescription medicines can be helpful in treating many illnesses. Stimulants are helpful in managing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants treat anxiety, panic, and sleep disorders. Opioids are prescribed to treat pain, coughing, and diarrhea. But when these medicines are misused, they can have serious consequences. To learn more, read the DrugFacts:

Statistics and Trends

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Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs for 8th Graders, 10th Graders, and 12th Graders; 2018 (in percent)*
Drug Time Period 8th Graders 10th Graders 12th Graders
Any Prescription Drug Past Year - - [9.90]
Adderall Past Year 1.80 4.10 [4.60]
Amphetamine Past Year 3.70 5.70 5.50
Narcotics other than Heroin Past Year - - 3.40
OxyContin Past Year 0.80 2.20 2.30
Ritalin Past Year 0.50 - 0.90
Tranquilizers Past Year 2.00 3.90 3.90
Vicodin Past Year 0.60 1.10 1.70
*Additional data (Past Month, Lifetime) available.

The use of any prescription drug includes use of any of the following: amphetamines, sedatives (barbiturates), narcotics other than heroin, or tranquilizers “…without a doctor telling you to use them.”

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National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Trends in Prevalence of Psychotherapeutics (Nonmedical Use) for Ages 12 or Older, Ages 12 to 17, Ages 18 to 25, and Ages 26 or Older; 2017 (in percent)*
Drug Time Period Ages 12 or Older Ages 12 to 17 Ages 18 to 25 Ages 26 or Older
Psychotherapeutics (Nonmedical Use) Lifetime - - - -
Past Year 6.60 4.90 14.40 5.60
Past Month 2.20 1.50 4.50 1.90

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Other Resources

Past information on many drugs of abuse is available on our Archives site.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies in human volunteers conducted to answer specific health questions. Learn about the NIH-sponsored clinical trials available to you.

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    NIDA. (). Prescription Medicines. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/prescription-medicines

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    Easy-to-read Drug Facts