What are the Most Addictive Prescription Drugs?
There are three categories of prescription drugs that are known to be addictive – that is, they can cause physical dependency as well as increased tolerance over time. They include:
- Depressants – Have calming, relaxing effects on the central nervous system, and include benzodiazepines and tranquilizers
- Opioids – Relieve pain and may produce a euphoric effects or general sense of well-being.
- Stimulants – Increase brain activity, alertness, and energy
The Most Addictive Prescription Drugs – Depressants
Alprazolam (i.e. Xanax)
Alprazolam is a depressant in the benzodiazepine (benzo) family. It’s effects are fast-acting, and cause rapid relaxation, and often sedation. It is a potent anti-anxiety medication which is often prescribed to treat severe anxiety or panic attacks.
Xanax’s popularity makes it easy to garner on the streets and is much sought-after for its calming effects. It is extremely addictive and regular users may find it difficult to quit or even gradually wean.
Diazepam (i.e. Valium)
Diazepam is another depressant in the benzo family. It has sedative and relaxation effects, and may even make the user feel a little goofy or intoxicated. It may be prescribed for severe anxiety, insomnia, or panic disorder.
Benzos such as Xanax and Valium can have nasty side effects such as poor motor coordination, dizziness, and black out periods. Although it’s pretty tough to overdose on one benzo alone, when used in combination with alcohol or other sedatives, coma or death are possible.
The Most Addictive Prescription Drugs – Opioids/Opiates
Oxycodone (i.e. OxyContin)
Oxycodone is an analgesic narcotic, or pain relieving opioid. It is derived from the opium poppy. Besides pain relief, it can make the user feel good or euphoric. It is usually prescribed for moderate to severe pain, either acute or chronic.
Oxycodone is prescribed several million times per year by physicians. It generally alters the pain mechanism to which the central nervous system and the brain respond.
It is a very popular, but not cheap street drug when it is illegally allocated. It is extremely habit-forming and usually needs to be weaned rather than quit cold turkey.
Meperidine (i.e. Demerol)
Meperidine is another prescription analgesic which functions not unlike oxycodone. It is a synthetic opiate, meaning it is designed and developed in a laboratory by humans instead of being derived from a purely natural origin.
It is less addictive than oxycodone, but still very habit-forming and has the potential for tolerance and withdrawal effects upon cessation.
Hydrocodone (i.e. Norco)
Another opioid analgesic, hydrocodone is often used in conjunction with acetaminophen for moderate to severe pain or fever. As other opioids or opiates, it may increase feelings of well-being or induce euphoria.
Hydrocodone is both habit-forming and can cause tolerance. Again, weaning off of this drug is advised. Trying to quit cold turkey may result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and relapse.
The Most Addictive Prescription Drugs – Stimulants
Amphetamine (i.e. Adderall)
Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine are nervous system stimulants. It is usually prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy.
Due to the number of prescriptions for ADHD and related conditions, it is easily gotten on the black market. It is abused for its stimulating effects, including wakefulness, heightened awareness, increased focus, concentration, and energy. It does this by increasing the amount of dopamine available to the brain.
For this reason,it is often used by persons trying to avoid sleep, such as truck drivers and cramming college students. Like ecstasy, it is also commonly used at raves and parties.
Adverse affects may include insomnia, sweating, tremors, and tachycardia (rapid heart rate).
Methylphenidate (i.e. Ritalin)
A stimulant like Adderall, methylphenidate is prescribed for ADHD. It can improve focus, attention span, and impulsivity by increasing the availability of dopamine for brain neurons. Also like Adderall, it is extremely common, and can be allocated on the black market.
Side effects may include appetite loss, weight loss, and suicidal ideations.
If you or someone you know is an addict, please seek help immediately.