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After marijuana, prescription drugs are the most abused drug category. An estimated 20 percent of Americans have abused prescription drugs at one time or another, according to the National Institutes of Health. Abuse of prescription drugs is a serious problem for men of all ages. The number of teens and young adults who abuse prescription drugs is growing, and aging Baby Boomers who take medication for health problems such as high cholesterol or blood pressure have increasingly been abusing more additive drugs.


Prescription drugs that are typically taken for non-medical reasons (or by someone other than the patient they were prescribed to) include medications for pain, depressants, and stimulants. Here are some of the top prescription drugs that men commonly abuse:

  1. OxyContin®: As an oxycodone opioid (narcotic), OxyContin® is prescribed as a pain reliever for severe pain that will last for an extended period of time. It is twice as potent as morphine, and has a high potential for abuse. Some risks and side effects include euphoria, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, confusion, impaired coordination, slowed/arrested breathing, unconsciousness, coma and death – especially when taken in combination with alcohol or depressants.
  2. Xanax: Anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and symptoms of anxiety are often treated with Xanax XR. It is in the benzodiazepines drug category, and works to slow the movement of brain chemicals that cause imbalance, thus reducing nervous tension. Overdose of Xanax can be fatal, and abuse of the drug can result in drowsiness, lowered inhibitions, slurring, confusion, dizziness, respiratory distress, and even death when combined with alcohol.
  3. Ambien®: Ambien is prescribed most commonly for the treatment of insomnia, sleep onset problems or sleep maintenance. Abuse of Ambien can result in confusion, shallow breathing, light-headedness, fainting, coma, and lower blood pressure. There is an increased risk of respiratory distress and death when taken with alcohol.
  4. Adderall XR: Amphetamine stimulants like Adderall are used primarily to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Due to the increased energy and mental alertness that the prescription provides, it is a highly abused medication. Overdose and abuse can result in irritability, rapid breathing, anxiousness, paranoia, hallucinations, increased blood pressure, nervousness, insomnia, aggressiveness, seizures, heart attack, and stroke.
  5. Zoloft: Zoloft is a drug used to treat symptoms of depression, panic, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsiveness. An overdose of Zoloft can cause anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, irritation, hostility or aggression, hyperactivity, hallucinations, nausea, shallow breathing, swelling, and seizures.

If you or someone you love struggles from prescription drug abuse, contact the Treatment Helpline: 888-510-4557.

Also please check out this Drug Rehab Guide for further information on different options for getting help!