Prescription drugs are those that a doctor gives patients access to for the purpose of treating pain and other legitimate medical complaints. However, the use of prescription drugs for nonmedical uses in Indiana is higher than the prevalence of illicit drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.
According to Indiana University, in 2016 doctors statewide prescribed over 11 million controlled substances. Several types of prescription drugs have high abuse potential
Prescription stimulant drugs have accepted medical uses for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, which causes acute sleepiness. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, stimulants work on the body’s systems to speed up their functions. Examples of prescription stimulants include Ritalin and Adderall. Among Indiana college students, most nonmedical use of prescription drugs involves stimulants.
Depressants work on the central nervous system to slow down vital functions. They have medical uses for treating anxiety and inducing sleep in people with insomnia. Misuse of depressants sometimes involves administering them to someone else clandestinely to facilitate sexual contact without the other person’s consent.
Also called narcotics, opioids are pain relievers that work by dulling the senses. Of the 11 million controlled substances prescribed in Indiana in 2016, opioids represented more than half. Nonmedical use of opioids was the leading cause of admissions to treatment centers in Indiana in 2014. There is a link between taking prescribed opioids and eventually becoming addicted to heroin, an illicit narcotic with no accepted medical use.
With widespread prescription of controlled substances, it becomes easier to divert them for illicit purposes. Generally speaking, misuse of prescription drugs is responsible for between one-quarter and one-third of all admissions to treatment for substance use in Indiana.