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Sheriff's Home Page INET Prescription Medication



Pain Relievers, Sedatives, Tranquilizers and Stimulants

What do Prescription Pain Relievers look like?
Tablets and capsules.

How are they used?
Medically, they are prescribed as analgesics, to treat pain. When abused, they are swallowed or injected.

What are their short-term effects?
Relief from pain. In some people, prescription pain relievers also cause euphoria or feelings of well being by affecting the brain regions that mediate pleasure. This is why they are abused. Other effects include drowsiness, constipation and slowed breathing. Taking a large single dose of prescription pain relievers can cause severe respiratory depression that can lead to death. Use of prescription pain relievers with other substances that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, or general anesthetics, increases the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression.

What are their long-term effects?
Taken exactly as prescribed, pain relievers can manage pain effectively. But chronic use or abuse of opioids can result in physical dependence and addiction. Dependence means that the body adapts to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped. Symptoms of withdrawal include: restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes with goose bumps ("cold turkey"). Tolerance to the drugs' effects also occurs with long-term use, so users must take higher doses to achieve the same or similar effects as experienced initially. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use.



What do Prescription Sedatives and Tranquilizers look like?
Multi-colored tablets and capsules; some can be in liquid form.

How are they used?
Medically, barbiturates are prescribed for acute anxiety, tension and sleep disorders. Benzodiazepines are prescribed for anxiety, acute stress reactions, and panic attacks. When abused, they are swallowed or injected.

What are their short-term effects?
Prescription sedatives and tranquilizers can cause euphoria. They also slow normal brain function, which may result in slurred speech, shallow breathing, sluggishness, fatigue, disorientation and lack of coordination or dilated pupils. During the first few days of taking a prescribed sedative or tranquilizer, a person usually feels sleepy and uncoordinated, but as the body becomes accustomed to the effects of the drug, these feelings begin to disappear. Higher doses cause impairment of memory, judgment and coordination, irritability, paranoid and suicidal ideation. Some people experience a paradoxical reaction to these drugs and can become agitated or aggressive. Using Prescription sedatives and tranquilizers with other substances - particularly alcohol - can slow breathing, or slow both the heart and respiration, and possibly lead to death.

What are their long-term effects?
Continued use can lead to physical dependence and - when use is reduced or stopped abruptly- withdrawal symptoms may occur. Because all Prescription sedatives and tranquilizers work by slowing the brain's activity, when an individual stops taking them, there can be a rebound effect, possibly leading to seizures and other harmful consequences. Tolerance to the drug's effects can also occur, meaning that larger doses are needed to achieve similar effects as those experienced initially. This may lead users to take higher doses and risk the occurrence of an overdose. Addiction can also occur, meaning that users continue to take these drugs despite their harmful consequences.



What do Prescription Stimulants look like?
Tablets and capsules.

How are they used?
Medically, they are now prescribed for only a few health conditions, including narcolepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and short-term treatment of obesity. They are swallowed and may be injected when abused.

What are their short-term effects?
Stimulants increase the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, which increases blood pressure and heart rate, constricts blood vessels, increases blood glucose, and increases breathing. Effects can feel like an increase alertness, attention, and energy along with a sense of euphoria. There is also the potential for cardiovascular failure (heart attack) or lethal seizures.

What are their long-term effects?
Stimulants can be addictive in that individuals begin to use them compulsively. Taking high doses of some stimulants repeatedly over a short time can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia. Additionally, taking high doses of a stimulant may result in dangerously high body temperatures and an irregular heartbeat. There is also the potential for cardiovascular failure (heart attack) or lethal seizures.

What is their federal classification?
Schedule II


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