Medication Misuse and Abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid prescriptions (such as Vicodin® or Oxycontin®) dropped in most Oregon counties between 2010 and 2015. However, Oregon continues to lead the nation in seniors who are hospitalized because of opioid overdose.


Almost 1 in 4 Oregonians received a prescription for opioid medications, and in a recent national survey, Oregon ranked second among all states in More Oregon drug overdose deaths involved prescription opioids in 2013 than any other type of drug, including methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. non-medical use of pain relievers (i.e. prescription pain medication). Medication misuse and abuse is the intentional or unintentional use of medication without a prescription, in a way other than prescribed, or for the experience or feeling it causes. It is important to note that 8% of Jefferson County youth report using prescription medications without a doctor's order.  Source: 2015 Oregon Prescription Drug Overdose, Misuse and Dependency Prevention Plan.



Heal Safely 

Until recently, opioid painkillers were seen by many patients and health professionals as the best way to manage serious pain after an injury or surgery. We now know opioids should be avoided unless you and your doctor decide together that they are necessary to manage the most severe pain during the first day or two of recovery. Click here for more information, options to manage pain, and a free toolkit to prevent addiction.

Opioid Pain Relievers

Opioid pain relievers reduce the pain associated with many conditions, including cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative conditions. They are also used to alleviate short-term pain related to injuries, surgery, or dental work. Research suggests that opioid pain relievers are best used short-term and in combination with other pain management therapies, to avoid potential overdose, dependence, and addiction.

According to the Central Oregon Health Council:


  • Oregonians are prescribed more than 100 million opioid pain pills every year — more than 25 opioid pills for every man, woman, and child. 


  • Our leftover and unused drugs fuel the epidemic of opioid addiction — three-fourths of people who misused prescription drugs report they got started with drugs from a medicine cabinet.


  • Prescription abuse drives heroin addiction: 75 percent of people who abused prescription drugs and used heroin in the past year report that they used prescription drugs first.


Psychiatric Drugs

Psychiatric drugs treat mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety disorders. Commonly prescribed medications that have been abused include sedative medications in a class of drug called benzodiazepines, including Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and the antipsychotic medication, Seroquel. These medications alone or in combination with other drugs can produce sedation and euphoria (“high”). Medications that help with insomnia, such as Ambien, can also be abused. Stimulants prescribed to people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder include Adderall, Ritalin Concerta. 

Although most people take prescription medications responsibly, more than 20 percent of people aged 12 and older (an estimated 54 million people) have used such medications for nonmedical reasons at least once in their lifetime. Ease of access, misinformation about how addictive prescription opioids are, and the perception that prescription drugs are less harmful than illicit drugs are other possible contributors to the problem. After alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco, prescription drugs (taken non-medically) are among the most commonly used drugs by 12th-grade students.


For more information about preventing medication misuse and abuse in Central Oregon, visit Take Meds Seriously Oregon


One of the easiest ways to prevent medication misuse and abuse is to store and discard them safely. Click here for more information.