Prescription Medicine Abuse

In today’s world, especially in our country addiction to illicit substances and alcohol is becoming a significant hazard to our society. The problem of addiction is not only bound to one section of society but it is affecting every economic section of society as well as every age group. In addition to all the substance abuse and alcohol, the statistics of addiction to prescription medicine is also spiked in the last 5 years.

In this article, we are going to discuss the medicines abused and easily available at all pharmacy stores across the country. Generally, these medicines are only available on prescription, but in a vast and populous country like India, these medicines are very easy to get without a prescription. Getting hands-on with such medicines can easily be achieved by paying little extra cash or sometimes just knowing the vendors can do the trick.

The types of medicine which are abused and easily available over the counter –

  1. Type – Central Nervous System Depressant

Drugs under this category reduce the level of neurotransmitters present in the human brain. This type of drug is usually given to treat insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, and seizures. In general, Central Nervous System Depressant also known as Benzos and Downers, slows down brain activity causing muscle to relax and soothing the person. In pharmacy shops, they go by the brand names such as





Continuous and uncontrolled use of such medicines can lead to serious side effects such as-

Sudden reduction in blood pressure

Involuntary body movements

Slower breathing rate

  1. Type – Dextromethorphan  

This type of drug falls under the Morphinan class drug. Dextromethorphan is used as an antitussive, for cough suppressant. Its chemical structure is very similar to other opioids but it does not interact with opioid receptors. This drug is mainly prescribed for cough, common cold, cough by influenza, throat itching, and nasal congestion. Apart from these conditions people also use this drug to get high. The common brand names that are available as “over-the-counter medicines” are 


Acorill-DX etc.

Regular and overuse of this drug causes severe side effects such as


Uncontrolled vomiting 

Slower breathing rate

  1. Type – Opiates/Opioids

These types of drugs are derived from opium poppy. Opiates are those drugs that can be naturally synthesized from opium poppy whereas opioids are obtained via chemical processing. These drugs are strong painkillers and are also used in addiction treatment.

Example of Opiates




Example of Opioids





Opiates/Opioids fall under the narcotics category of drugs which means they are highly addictive and they can cause physical dependency. These drugs are mostly prescribed for acute pain, coughing, and serious diarrhea. Opiates/Opioids make people feel very relaxed and high and this is the most abused prescription drug. 

Abusing this type of drug can cause similar results to any other opium-based illicit drug. Such as


Drug-induced coma

Weaken immune system

Death due to overdose

  1. Type – Codeine-based cough syrups

Although Codeine is also an opium-based drug but for ease of understanding, we are keeping it in a different category. One of the main reasons to keep this separate is because this drug/syrup is very cheap in comparison to other drugs and very easily available in the market. This drug is also very popular among youngsters for getting high since it is not that difficult to get your hands on this type of cough syrup. Common brands of Codeine based cough syrups are




As mentioned above overdose of any opiate can cause death. The other serious conditions that can develop due to uncontrolled consumption of these syrups are

Low blood pressure

Difficulty in breathing

Long-term use of this drug can cause mental instability

Our society is not very well informed about this issue; only awareness and systematic treatment are the only options to have a safety net for ourselves and our loved ones. 

Let us discuss why Prescription medicine abuse has reached an all-time high in the past few years.

  • These medicines are often used as alternatives for illicit drugs. Addicts sometimes are unable to find the drug of their choice like brown sugar, smack, etc. due to the strictness of law enforcement agencies or simply because of lack of money, in turn, they move to prescription drugs to satisfy their cravings.
  • The second most common factor is “ease of access”, although all the drugs mentioned above come with the written warning “to be sold by prescription only” that written warning does not matter in front of a few extra cash. There is a very strict law provision also for trading these medicines illegally but it is too difficult to keep track of the item for law enforcement agencies.
  • The next factor is the most dangerous of all. Some of these medicines are used as cocktail ingredients with liquor. This is done to get more high and this practice is considered most dangerous because one can never know what ratio should be enough. Therefore the risk of overdose is quite high.
  • Sometimes people tend to treat themselves without consulting a doctor. They start taking the medicines on their own and gradually they become physically dependent on these drugs.
  • Last but most common, cheaper than illicit drugs. Any addict sooner or later becomes financially vulnerable. As a result they move to prescription drugs to satisfy their cravings and to get high. Apart from that transporting these drugs for consumption is not flagged anywhere in our country.

The use of these drugs is considered “very hip” among youngsters, they think that the uses of these drugs are under their control but they often forgot that the Great Wall of China was not built in a day. Gradually, their action will build a Great Wall of problems regarding their health.

The key to overcoming this problem of prescription medicine abuse is awareness. The treatment of this addiction is available in rehabilitation centers, de-addiction also known as Nasha Mukti Kendra. These centers provide comprehensive therapies and treatment procedures for medicine abuse.

Please do not take any medicine without consultation with a doctor.  

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