Defining Prescription Drugs


In the past year, 121,000 youth between the ages 12 to 17 misused prescription depressants.

  • Definition: Depressants typically help a person sleep and relieve anxiety.
  • Scenario: Taking depressants from your parents’ bathroom cabinet is not only dangerous, but illegal as well.
  • Misuse: Misusing depressants can cause disorientation, slurred speech, and lack of coordination. If used more than prescribed, depressants can lead to overdoses and even death.
  • Medical names: Xanax, Valium, Barbiturates
  • Street names: Xany, Barbs, Downers, Reds, Yellows, Sleeping Pills


92,000 youth between the ages 12 to 17 misused prescription stimulants in the past year.

  • Definition: Stimulants help treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Scenario: Using your friend’s prescription pills for ADHD without a doctor’s approval is considered misuse.
  • Misuse: Misusing stimulants can cause accelerated heartbeat, paranoia, and increased body temperature.
  • Medical names: Adderall, Ritalin
  • Street names: Uppers, Bennies, Hearts, Black Beauties, Skippy


Approximately 891,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 misused opioids in the past year.

  • Definition: Opioids help relieve pain.
  • Scenario: Think twice the next time someone offers you lean at a party. Lean is a beverage that is made up of cough syrup containing codeine, hard candy, and lemon-lime soda.
  • Misuse: Misusing opioids can cause stomach pain, sleepiness, and constipation. If misused, opioids can also lead to overdoses and death.
  • Medical names: Oxycodone, Codeine, Morphine, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, OxyContin, Percocet, Heroin, Fentanyl
  • Street names: Oxy, Percs, Vikes, Hillbilly, Happy Pills

Alert IconAccording to a DC Youth Prevention Survey, when DC youth were asked if their friends would disapprove of them using prescription drugs for non-medical use 42.08% of youth surveyed said “no.”