Take Only As-Directed

Prescription drugs are powerful. Used correctly, they can do great things, even save lives. Use incorrectly, they can be destructive, even deadly.

That's why the law requires that only a doctor can determine if you should take a prescription drug, as well as how much you should take, how often you should take it, and for how long you should continue to take it. A prescription is not a permission slip; it's a warning-that you should exercise great care and caution.

For Immediate Help

If you're concerned that you or someone you know may be abusing prescription drugs, help is available. Call the Tennessee Mental Health and Substance Abuse crisis hotline.

What is Prescription Drug Abuse

Whenever a prescription medicine is used in a way other than originally specified, it is being abused. That can mean taking more of the drug than your prescription calls for, taking a drug prescribed for someone else, or using the drug in a way that was not intended (like snorting or injecting ground-up pills).

There are many reasons people abuse prescription drugs. Some use stimulants in the belief they'll aid weight loss, others may use opioid painkillers to get high, while others may not mean to misuse drugs, but simply fall into a habit of taking more of the drug than they should. Whatever the reason, drug abuse can quickly become ongoing and compulsive, even addictive.

One of the things that sets prescription drugs abuse apart from other drug problems is that it affects all age groups and every part of society. But like all drug problems, the sooner it is recognized and dealt with, the better chances for recovery.

1 in 12 workers who were
prescribed painkillers
for a work-related
injury are still taking them
six months later.

Signs of Abuse

Drug tolerance. Using more of a drug to experience the same effects you used to attain with smaller amounts is an indication of a problem.

You continue to take a prescription drug despite negative consequences like fatigue, dizziness, or nausea.

Taking drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms like nausea, insomnia, depression, sweating, and anxiety indicates an addiction.

If you continue to use a drug even after recognizing negative effects from it, you may have a serious problem.

Your drug use is causing problems in your relationships, such as fights with your partner or family members, an unhappy boss, or the loss of old friends.

When a great deal of your time is spent using and thinking about drugs, figuring out how to get them, and recovering from the drug's effects, it's time to break the cycle.

If drug use is taking priority over activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, and socializing, it indicates a problem.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

  • Opioids
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana®)
  • Meperidine (Demerol®)
  • Diphenoxylate (Lomotil®)
  • Propoxyphene (Darvon®)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®)
  • Nervous System Depressants
  • Diazepam (Valium®)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax®)
  • Pentobarbital Sodium (Nembutal®)
  • Stimulants
  • Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
  • Amphetamines (Adderall®)
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin®)

In 2011, enough prescriptions were written in Tennessee to give everyone 12 and over...

22 pills
of xanax

21 pills
of oxycodone

51 pills
of hydrocodone

Treatment & Recovery

Successful treatment incorporates detoxification, counseling, and sometimes the use of addiction medications.

Note that no single treatment or approach will work for everyone. Everyone's needs are different, and drug addiction treatment should be customized to each individual's own problems and situation. To that end, treatment should address more than just the drug abuse. Successful treatment depends on developing new ways of living and dealing with relationships, career, health, and psychological well being.

While detoxification is always part of the process, that doesn't mean that everyone requires medically supervised detox, or even an extended stay in a rehab facility. The level of care you need depends on your age, drug use history, and other medical or psychiatric conditions. In addition to doctors and psychologists, many clergy members, social workers, and counselors offer addiction treatment services. Explore your options and find the answer that's right for you. And be prepared to try different approaches-success doesn't always come on the first try.

Whatever treatment approach you choose, having a solid support system is essential. The more positive influences you have in your life, the better your chances for recovery. Recovering from drug addiction isn't easy, but with people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, it's a little less tough.

Having a support group of friends and family members is an invaluable asset in recovery. If you're reluctant to turn to your loved ones because you've let them down before, consider couples counseling or family therapy.

If your previous social life revolved around drugs, you may need to make some new connections. It's important to have a sober social network who will support your recovery.

Consider joining a recovery support group. Spending time with people who understand exactly what you're going through can be very healing. You can also benefit from the shared experiences of the group members and learn what others have done to stay sober. Keep in mind that attending meetings regularly is critical to success.

Accidental drug
overdoses increased
300% from 2001 to 2010.

More people abuse prescription drugs
than heroin, inhalants
& hallucinogens

For More Information

Contact TAADAS (Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drugs, & other Addiction Services)-a statewide, consumer-oriented association representing thousands of consumers in recovery, family members, healthcare professionals & providers. Our mission is to provie a collaborative Tennessee voice for addiction, co-occurring, prevention, and recovery support services to effect positive change.

This project is funded by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.