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Most Often Abused Prescription Painkillers

Prescription pill abuse has increased immensely over the last few years, and opiate-based painkillers are at the top of the list.

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Opiates are narcotics, have pain relieving properties and produce a sedative effect. Many of the painkillers used in medicine today are opiates. These drugs are only available by prescription, but the downside is, they are potent and often subject to abuse and misuse.

In the case of prescription painkiller abuse, the drug of choice varies based on region and accessibility. The two most widely abused prescription painkillers are Hydrocodone and Oxycodone1. Abuse of these drugs has grown due to their availability – they’re the drugs most often prescribed by doctors to treat post-operative pain and for general pain management.

When abused, these drugs have the ability to numb emotional pain as well. They can produce both euphoric and sedative effects.

The Two Most Commonly Abused Opiates Are Often Substituted By Other Painkillers

Hydrocodone is a synthetic opioid analgesic and antitussive (cough suppressant) used to treat moderate to severe pain. This drug is not available in its pure form. Hydrocodone is often compounded with other less effective non-opioid medications. These include acetaminophen (found in Vicodin and Lortab) and ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines and cough syrups.

Oxycodone is a synthetic opioid analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain and is formulated as a single ingredient or compounded drug. This drug is also available in a time-released formula. Oxycodone is sold under the names Tylox, OxyContin, Percodan and Percocet. Some of the common street names for these drugs are Oxy’s, Oxycotten, Hillbilly Heroin and Percs.

These two painkillers are the most commonly abused but people may try other painkillers depending on what they can get their hands on.
Most prescription painkillers come in pill form but some are available as liquids, powders, suppositories or patches. Those who are addicted may modify these drugs to enhance their effects and increase their potency. This can be done by crushing pills to smoke, snort or even inject them, and breaking patches open to ingest them.

Other Drugs of Abuse Include Pain Patches

Codeine, Morphine and Fentanyl are prescription drugs that are also commonly abused.

Codeine is derived from opium. This medication is often combined with Tylenol for pain relief and with Robitussin as a cough suppressant. When abused, this drug is either ingested or injected. Codeine is known on the streets as Cody, Captain Cody, School Boy and Pancakes and Syrup.

Morphine is also derived from opium and when it’s abused, it can be ingested, injected or smoked. Morphine is known on the streets as M, Miss Emma and Monkey.

Fentanyl pain patch is a synthetic opioid that can be ingested, injected, snorted or smoked by abusers. This drug goes by many names on the street such as China Girl, Dance Fever, Murder 8 and TNT.
In 2010, It has been estimated that 1 in 20 people have abused painkillers of some kind, proof that this type of drug abuse has become an epidemic2.

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/VitalSigns/PainkillerOverdoses/index.html
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2011-11-vitalsigns.pdf
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