Prescription drugs make complex surgery possible, relieve pain for millions of people, and enable many individuals with chronic medical conditions to control their symptoms and lead productive lives. Most people who take prescription medications use them responsibly. However, the non-medical use of prescription drugs is a serious public health concern. Nonmedical use of prescription drugs like opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and stimulants can lead to abuse and addiction, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use.
Addiction rarely occurs among people who use a pain reliever, CNS depressant, or stimulant as prescribed; however, inappropriate use of prescription drugs can lead to addiction in some cases. Patients, healthcare professionals, and pharmacists all have roles in preventing misuse and addiction. For example, if a doctor prescribes a pain medication, CNS depressant, or stimulant, the patient should follow the directions for use carefully, and also learn what effects the drug could have and potential interactions with other drugs by reading all information provided by the pharmacist. Physicians and other health care providers should screen for any type of substance abuse during routine history-taking with questions about what prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines the patient is taking and why.