Prescription & Over-the-counter Drugs

Prescription (Rx) and Over-the-Counter (OTC) drugs can be effective in treating medical conditions when taken correctly. However, these are powerful drugs that when taken incorrectly or recreationally can lead to serious health issues and addiction.

WHAT ARE PRESCRIPTIONS & OTC DRUGS?

The most commonly abused prescription drugs are pain medications, stimulants and depressants. Over-the-counter drugs that can be purchased at a pharmacy or drug store include cough, cold, flu and allergy products.

HOW ARE PRESCRIPTIONS & OTC DRUGS ABUSED?

  • Taking someone else’s medication
  • Taking higher quantity than prescribed
  • Taking medication to get high
  • Mixing medication with alcohol and other drugs

PRESCRIPTIONS & OTC DRUGS IN HAWAI'I

  • More than 2 million Americans are addicted to opioid prescription medications
  • In 2013, 6.5 million Americans ages 12 and older used prescription drugs non-medically in the past month
  • In 2013, 207 million prescriptions were written for Rx opioid pain medications
  • In 2013, 12.9% of Hawaii high school students used Rx drugs without a doctor’s prescription

HEALTH RISKS

  • More people die from overdoses of Rx drugs opioids than all other drugs combined – including heroin and cocaine.
  • Overdose death has quadrupled over the last 10 years.
  • In 2011, there were 366,181 ER visits involving non-medical use of narcotic pain relievers
  • Addiction
  • Sudden death from overdose
  • Slows breathing, heart rate and respiratory system
  • Seizures
  • High body temperature 

Sources: NIDA Community Drug Alert Bulletin on Club Drugs, Drug Enforcement Administration, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, www.drugabuse.gov, www.streetdrugs.org,  4rehabilitation.com, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), 2005: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits.