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Prescription Drugs and Cold Medicines

What does it do?

Misuse of prescription medications and cold medicines occur when an individual takes a prescription medication or cold medicine other than the way it was prescribed or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor. This also includes when a person takes a prescription medication that was not prescribed the medication. Commonly abused prescriptions drugs are opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants used for anxiety and sleep disorders, and stimulants used for ADHD and narcolepsy.


Commonly abused central nervous system (CNS) depressants include benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine sleep medications, and barbiturates. Slang terms used to describe commonly abused CNS depressants are Z-Bars, Bricks, Benzos (Xanax).

Commonly abused stimulants are dextroamphetamine (DXM), methylphenidate and amphetamines. DXM is commonly used in cough suppressants and expectorants.

  • PEERx: Rx Abuse is Drug Abuse Comprehensive information for Teens from NIDA.
  • Take Away - Environmental Return System The Iowa Pharmacy Association sponsored program that provides the public with a safe, easy way to properly dispose of unwanted and expired medications. TakeAway uses community pharmacies across the state as take-back site.
  • Prescription Drugs NIDA site with links to research reports, infofacts, new releases, more.
  • National Take-Back Initiative Day On specific days throughout the year, the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.
  • RX Drug Drop Box The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) has launched a program designed to significantly reduce the prescription drugs in American homes that are either no longer needed or outdated.Therefore, NADDI has developed this webpage to provide the locations of law enforcement sites that are accepting prescription drugs throughout the United States.  
  • RX Pain Medications: Know the Options - Get the Facts A series of 13 fact sheets designed to increase awareness of the risks associated with prescription opioid use and misuse, as well as to educate patients who are prescribed opioids for pain about the risks and to provide resources on methods for alternative pain management (SAMHSA).
  • Report Illicit Pharmaceutical Activities US Dept. of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration
  • A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine FDA information page
  • Good Medicine, Bad Behavior Drug diversion in America. DEA sponsored site.
  • Prescription Drug Abuse Medline Plus
  • Stop Medicine Abuse was created by the leading makers of OTC cough medicines.
  • Make Up Your Own Mind About Cough Medicine A Partnership for Drug-Free Kids site about cough and cold medicine abuse for teens.