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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.

Central Nervous System Depressants

These medications are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.  They are referred to as sedatives and tranquilizers 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)