What can happen to your body when you use prescription drugs?

Prescription drugs can help with medical problems when used as directed. However, whether they are used properly or misused, there can be side effects: 

  • Using opioids like oxycodone and codeine can cause you to feel sleepy, sick to your stomach, and constipated. At higher doses, opioids can make it hard to breathe properly and can cause overdose and death.
  • Using stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin can make you feel paranoid (feeling like someone is going to harm you even though they aren’t). It also can cause your body temperature to get dangerously high and make your heart beat too fast. This is especially likely if stimulants are taken in large doses or in ways other than swallowing a pill.
  • Using depressants like barbiturates can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, sleepiness, disorientation, and lack of coordination. People who misuse depressants regularly and then stop suddenly may experience seizures. At higher doses depressants can also cause overdose and death, especially when combined with alcohol.

In addition, misusing over-the-counter drugs that contain DXM (an ingredient in cold and cough medicines) can also produce very dangerous effects. Read more about misuse of cough and cold medications

Misusing any type of drug that causes changes in your mood, perceptions, and behavior can affect judgment and willingness to take risks—putting you at greater risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).