Top 5 Adverse Effects of Commonly Abused Rx Drugs


Pharmacists may be better able to help patients stop abusing prescription drugs if they can pinpoint what adverse effects they are experiencing and why.

Pharmacists may be better able to help patients stop abusing prescription drugs if they can pinpoint what adverse effects they are experiencing and why.

Addiction-Treatment, a website with a focus on medication abuse, recently released a list of the most common adverse effects of frequently misused drugs.

The medications considered commonly abused were Ambien, clonazepam, Concerta, hydrocodone, OxyContin, Percocet, Suboxone, Vicodin, Xanax, and Zoloft.

The top adverse effects for all of these medications combined were lethargy, mood swings, sexual dysfunction, irregular heartbeat, drowsiness, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, stomachache, and gas.

Of course, patients may experience these side effects when they are taking the medication as directed, not just when they abuse the treatments.

At nearly 12%, clonazepam was the medication associated with the highest percentage of adverse effect reports among the treatments examined in the study. Suboxone closely followed, at a little more than 11%, and then Zoloft at nearly 9%.

The following are top 5 adverse effects for commonly abused medications, according to Addiction-Treatment:

· Clonazepam

1. Sexual dysfunction

2. Fever

3. Gas

4. Irregular heartbeat

5. Sensitivity to light

· Suboxone

1. Lethargy

2. Anxiety

3. Irregular heartbeat

4. Insomnia

5. Stomachache

· Zoloft

1. Balance problems

2. Vomiting

3. Change in sex drive

4. Sexual dysfunction

5. Headache

· Percocet

1. Mood swings

2. Diarrhea

3. Gas

4. Insomnia

5. Sexual dysfunction

· Concerta

1. Anxiety

2. Irregular heartbeat

3. Insomnia

4. Sexual dysfunction

5. Allergic reaction

· Xanax

1. Depression

2. Gas

3. Mood swings

4. Fatigue

5. Blurred vision

· Ambien

1. Anxiety

2. Mood swings

3. Drowsiness

4. Amnesia

5. Feelings of anger or rage

· OxyContin

1. Mood swings

2. Addiction

3. Fatigue

4. Tremors

5. Muscle spasms

· Vicodin

1. Sexual dysfunction

2. Nausea

3. Drowsiness

4. Diarrhea

5. Breathing difficulties

Addiction-Treatment also highlighted some of the more scary and strange side effects of prescription drugs.

On the strange side were loss of taste (Coreg), unusual taste in mouth (cortisone), feeling of floating (phenergan), and body odor (Adderall).

Among the scarier adverse effects were amnesia (Zoladex), delirium (promethazine), impaired judgment (Levetiracetam, Lyrica), and suicidal tendencies (mercaptopurine).

These findings were based off of patient-reported adverse effects from on July 9, 2015.

Among drug-related emergency department visits in 2009, 2.3 million cases involved adverse pharmaceutical drug reactions, according to the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence.

In addition, the great majority of fatal poisonings result from pharmaceuticals. After alcohol and marijuana, prescription drugs are the next most commonly abused category of drugs, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc (NCADD).

The NCADD estimates that 48 million Americans (almost 20% of the population) have abused prescription drugs.

Misuse of prescription drugs has been rising for adolescents, particularly with pain relievers, anti-anxiety medications, stimulants, and steroids, according to NCADD.

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