What are the Most Addictive Prescription Drugs? - California Behavioral Health

What are the Most Addictive Prescription Drugs?

Addictive prescription drugs have become a nationwide problem. 

Many people labor under the false assumption that drug abuse relates only to so-called street narcotics. Drugs like cocaine, crack, and heroine comes to mind. These narcotics do account for a high number of substance abuse disorders, but prescription drugs do plenty of damage. Much focus has been put on the question of what are the most addictive prescription drugs in the past several years. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted an important survey in 2015. They reported that in the previous year, approximately 119 million Americans aged 12 or older had taken prescription psychotherapeutic drugs. Of those, 18.9 million had misused prescription drugs. That same survey showed that nearly 100 million people used prescription pain relievers, sedatives, stimulants, and tranquilizers.

While many people use their prescription drugs safely, not everyone does. They can be blinded by the belief that if a medication came from a licensed doctor or pharmacy, it can’t be unsafe. Cause for concern about misuse or abuse of prescription drugs includes many behaviors, such as:

  • Taking more than the amount prescribed
  • Taking medications prescribed to someone else
  • Purchasing the medications from non-medical sources
  • Doctor-shopping, i.e. obtaining subscriptions for the same medication from multiple doctors
  • Using medication for conditions not specified by the prescribing physician
  • Requesting early refills or claiming a written prescription was lost and needs to be replaced
  • Attempting to forge a prescription
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not taking the medication

Opioids Constitute a Major Addiction Problem

Opioids are typically prescription drugs used to treat pain. Popular brand names include Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet. When taken as prescribed and under a doctor’s supervision, they can bring about pain relief and management. This contributes to opioids being some of the most addictive prescription drugs. When a person abuses them, serious side effects, overdoses, and death can occur. 

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) released a report with an alarming find about opioid abuse. NSDUH reported that an estimated 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids in 2019. The Centers for Disease Control found that in 2018, two-thirds of overdose deaths involved opioids. 

Side effects of opioid abuse can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Vision changes
  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slowed breathing
  • Poor coordination

Anti-Anxiety and Sedatives Are Commonly Abused

The Mayo Clinic contributes an answer to the question of what are the most addictive prescription drugs. The Clinic reports that anti-anxiety and sedatives are another group of commonly abused drugs. Some of the brand names that often are cited when a person seeks addiction treatment include Xanax, Ambien, and Valium. 

A generation of younger people has come to view certain anti-anxiety and sedatives as party drugs. They may increase the recommended consumption of their own prescription. Many people purchase these same medications from others. They use them to achieve feelings of relaxation, stress relief, and euphoria. When combined with alcohol, the dangers of misuse and abuse increase. 

Side effects for anti-anxiety medications and sedatives include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed breathing
  • Memory problems
  • Poor concentration
  • Confusion

Stimulants Round Out the List of the Most Addictive Prescription Drugs

The Mayo Clinic reports that stimulants are high on the list of addictive prescription drugs. Popular name brands include Ritalin, Adderall, and Dextroamphetamine. Doctors often prescribe stimulants to treat conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. They also may be used to help obese patients with weight loss.

Similar to anti-anxiety medications, many people misuse stimulants as a party drug. Some use them to achieve an increased ability to stay awake. People interested in shortcuts for weight loss may seek out stimulants. Many people who suffer from an eating disorder find themselves abusing stimulants as a way to further their illness. 

Side effects for abuse of stimulants may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Decreased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased blood flow

What to Do When You Recognize an Addiction

If you suspect you may be experiencing a problem with one of the most addictive prescription drugs, it is imperative to seek help. Depending on the level of addiction, a detoxification program may be necessary. Spending time in a residential treatment program can help you focus on entering and maintaining recovery. 

Many people who suffer from prescription drug abuse also have co-occurring mental health issues. These can include anxiety, depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. Many treatment programs are equipped to address these conditions, along with addiction. 

By the time addiction to prescription drugs has developed, a person finds themselves in danger. Their physical and mental health may already be suffering. Medical experts do not recommend detoxing alone. Investigate your options for receiving professional, caring help to ease you out of your addiction.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment in California

California Behavioral Health understands how difficult living in the grips of prescription drug addiction can be. We meet with people and develop a professional treatment plan designed for their needs and goals. 

Our lush Palms Springs location provides the perfect setting for you or someone you love to embrace recovery. Contact us here to find out how we can help.


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