Prescription medicine is indicated to provide relief for specific medical conditions. According to the substance prescribed, a schedule is allocated to make the public aware of the risk factors associated with the substance. This is indicated on the container of the medicine and patients should be aware that from S5 the substance in the medicine is indicative of being potentially addictive and prescriptions for these medicines should be renewed every 6 months.  Legal requirements are not adhered to by doctors or pharmacists and the monetary value for these professionals, outweigh the patients risks of becoming addicted to these medicines.

 An over the counter cough or flu mixture containing codeine can cause dependence within seven days and can cause major sickness in overcoming this. Codeine causes organ failure with extended use. Most common is the cough syrup Broncleer which contains codeine and is considered to be the most abused over the counter drug in South Africa. Codeine, is from the opioid family, along with heroin and morphine, and is also found in a range of other medications. This includes, but is not limited to, Myprodol and Mybulen, Benylin C, Syndol, AdcoDol, Tensodol, Sinutab C, and Sinumax Co.

Other Commonly Abused Medicines:

Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and clonazepam (Klonopin)

Barbiturates such as such as pentobarbital (Nembutal), mephobarbital (Mebaral), and phenobarbital (Luminal)

Stimulant medications such as methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin) and dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Dexedrine).

Diet medicine, Obesan,Duromine, Relislim.  

One feature of prescription drug abuse is when a person continues to take the drug after it’s no longer needed. This is usually because the drug produces a euphoric responses. Prescription drugs are often preferred for abuse because of the mistaken belief that the drugs provide a “safe high”

Opioid misuse/abuse is responsible for about 75% of overdose-related deaths. That’s more than any other prescription or illegal drug.

Prevention of medicine abuse includes taking prescription medicine only as directed by your doctor, never share prescription medicine and do not take medication prescribed for someone else. So-called “Pharming Parties” are popular with teens whereby everyone brings medication from home, mix them and drink, smoke or snort them, causing severe side effects and possibly death.

Most important prevention starts with yourself, read the labels of medicine and be aware of the real danger of getting addicted to medicine. It by no means differs from illegal substance abuse!