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commonly abused prescription drugs

Although many medications can be misused, the following three classes of prescription drugs are most commonly abused:


These medications are usually prescribed to treat varying degrees of pain.

Some examples of these include:

  • hydrocodone, (e.g., Vicodin)
  • oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet)
  • morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza)
  • methadone, buprenorphine, Suboxone, etc.
  • codeine, guaifenesin, codeine antitussive/codeine cough medications, and
  • related drugs.


These medications are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.  They are referred to as sedatives and tranquillizers and are substances that can slow brain activity.

Some examples of these include:

  • benzodiazepines:
    • diazepam (Valium)
    • alprazolam (Xanax)
    • triazolam (Halcion)
    • estazolam (ProSom)
  • barbiturates:
    • mephobarbital (Mebaral)
    • phenobarbital (Luminal Sodium)
    • pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal)


These medications are most often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as asthma and other respiratory problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments.

Some examples of these include:

  • dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall)
  • methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta)


Medicines play an important role in treating many conditions and diseases, but when they are no longer needed it’s important to dispose of them properly to avoid potential harm to others.  Healthy Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Take-Back programs are a good way to remove expired, unwanted, or unused medicines from the home and reduce the chance that others, especially children and teens, may accidentally take the medicine or use it to get high.  The Prescription Drug Take-Back program offers a safe opportunity to get rid of unused medications in a safe and secure environment in an easy, no questions asked manner.  To find a Prescription Drug Take-Back program near you, click here.