Are prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications addictive?

People who are looking to "get high" can abuse a variety of drugs and medicines, some of which are prescription and some that are available over the counter. From cough syrup to analgesics, many non-prescription medications can be dangerous and addictive if misused. You’ll notice in most pharmacies, certain cold medications are no longer on the shelf – you have to take a card to the pharmacy to buy them. New laws now require this since these OTC medications can be abused.

Prescription drugs can be just as dangerous. Pain medications such as Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, and Codeine are highly addictive and can result in death if misused or combined with alcohol or other drugs.

Another category of dangerous medications are classed as benzodiazepines. Anti-anxiety medications such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan are also highly addictive and can be medically dangerous during detoxification.

Finally, youth and teens may have access to central nervous system stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderal which are often prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These can also be abused and are addictive.

It is critical that prescription and OTC medications be taken only as prescribed. They should be monitored and kept away from youth and teens. Dispose of extra medications when you have finished them, and do not use old prescription medications or others’ prescription medications. Do not be fooled into thinking that these types of drugs cannot be addictive and dangerous.

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1. I do not have any health insurance. How can I get treatment for myself or my family member's substance abuse problem?
2. My health insurance will not pay for drug and alcohol treatment – what should I do?
3. What can I do if I think someone I know has a drug or alcohol problem?
4. What are Twelve-Step Programs?
5. How can I tell if my substance use is problematic?
6. How can I tell if my child has a drug or alcohol problem?
7. What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?
8. What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)?
9. What is codependency? Does your office fund outpatient services for codependents?
10. Are prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications addictive?
11. My church group or community organization is interested in a speaker to address alcohol, tobacco and other drug issues. Who should I call?