Detox & Drug Rehab In Orange County

The Most Addictive Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are drugs that you should strictly use according to the doctor’s instructions. However, there is a huge misconception that prescription drugs are not harmful. Therefore, people will use prescription medication contrary to the doctor’s instructions. A 2017 study shows that over 18 million Americans abused prescription medicines in the past year.  There are […]

Prescription drugs are drugs that you should strictly use according to the doctor’s instructions. However, there is a huge misconception that prescription drugs are not harmful. Therefore, people will use prescription medication contrary to the doctor’s instructions. A 2017 study shows that over 18 million Americans abused prescription medicines in the past year. 

There are three main classes of the most addictive prescription drugs. Each of these classes has some similarities. The most addictive prescription drug groups include:

  • Opioids. They attach to the same brain receptors as heroin. They cause effects like constipation, nausea, drowsiness, and slowed breathing. Examples include oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl, and Demerol. 
  • Stimulants. These are medicines that stimulate your central nervous system. They have effects similar to cocaine. Some of their effects include high body temperature, paranoia, and an irregular heartbeat. Examples of stimulants include Amphetamine (Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  • Depressants. Chronic use can cause fatigue, disorientation, shallow breathing, and lack of coordination. Examples of depressants include Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. 

Addiction is a disease, and it would be best to get professional medical attention to overcome addiction to illegal and prescription drugs. If abuse and minor addiction are left untreated, it can lead to severe addiction, overdose, fatalities, or other consequences. 

Let’s take a look at the most addictive prescription drugs in detail.

1. Opioids

Opioids are medications that doctors prescribe for pain. Opioids have a high risk of abuse and addiction. Moreover, they are dangerous and have lead to many overdose fatalities.  In 2010 alone, 60% of drug overdose deaths were associated with prescription opioids. Some of the symptoms of prescription opioid abuse include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Euphoria
  • Lethargy
  • Change in personality or behavior
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Headaches

Some of the most commonly abused prescription opioids include:


Fentanyl is a useful yet dangerous synthetic opioid. Doctors usually prescribe it for chronic pain, especially for cancer patients. Fentanyl gives the user euphoria and relaxed feelings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine as a painkiller. 

However, its traits make people use it and manufacture it for recreational purposes. Some manufacturers mix fentanyl with cocaine, heroin, or both. According to a 2017 report from the CDC, fentanyl was responsible for more than 50% of opioid overdose deaths in 10 states.  

Oxycodone (OxyContin)

Oxycodone is a painkiller that also gives you euphoria and a sedating effect. These effects are similar to heroin’s effects. Oxycodone is commonly available under the brand Oxycontin. Some manufacturers mix it with acetaminophen to form a product with the brand name Percocet. Research shows that oxycodone is a major contributor to the opioid crisis because there was an increase of almost 900% in oxycontin sales between 1997 and 2007. 


Doctors usually prescribe codeine for mild and moderate pain. Codeine also features alongside other medications to treat cold and flu symptoms. A common mix that contains codeine is cough syrup. High quantities of cough syrup with codeine can cause a sedative effect and altered levels of consciousness.    

Moreover, people add soda or candy to cough syrup with codeine to form an illicit concoction known as ‘lean,’ ‘purple drank,’ or ‘sizzurp.’ 

Meperidine (Demerol)

Meperidine is a synthetic opioid that doctors prescribe for moderate to severe pain. It is commonly available under the brand name Demerol. Meperidine usually causes euphoria, just like other opioids. 


2. Stimulants

Stimulants are prescription medications that increase your brain activity, energy levels, and alertness. Some common signs of abuse of stimulants include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced appetite
  • Hostility or aggressiveness
  • Nausea
  • Changes in vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Changes in behavior or personality

Some commonly abused stimulants include:

Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Methylphenidate is a stimulant doctors prescribe for ADHD and narcolepsy. It helps with attention by increasing the levels of dopamine in your brain. Methylphenidate is commonly available under the brand name Ritalin. A report by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) shows that doctors gave about 20 million methylphenidate prescriptions between 2016 and 2017. Ritalin and other stimulants are commonly abused because of their availability. You may experience effects like trouble sleeping and agitation if you misuse methylphenidate. 

Amphetamine (Adderall)

Amphetamine is also known as speed. Doctors also prescribe it for ADHD and narcolepsy. People abuse amphetamine for its energizing effects. It can mix with dextroamphetamine to form a product known ad Adderall. Most people who use it have sleep deprivation. Examples include college students working on deadlines, shift workers, and drivers. 

Misuse of amphetamine has the following symptoms on top of the common signs of stimulant misuse:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased alertness and energy
  • Increased blood pressure

3. Depressants

Depressants or central nervous system (CNS) depressants are medications that have a calming effect on users. They are also known as tranquilizers. Some symptoms of depressants misuse include:

  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Changes in behavior or personality

CNS depressants can be categorized into benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Some of the most abused prescription depressants include: 

Alprazolam (Xanax) 

Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine usually available under the Xanax brand. It helps with panic disorders and anxiety. People mainly abuse alprazolam because of its sedating effects. Additional signs of alprazolam misuse include tremors, trouble sleeping, and swelling of the hands or feet. Studies suggest that benzodiazepines have a high overdose risk, especially when mixed with opioids. There was a four times increase in overdose cases between 2002 and 2015. 

Clonazepam (Klonopin) and Diazepam (Valium)

Diazepam and clonazepam are benzodiazepines doctors prescribe for seizures, panic disorders, and anxiety. They are usually on sale under the brand names Valium and Klonopin, respectively. They are also known to have effects similar to alcohol. People experience feelings of relaxation, drunkenness, and talkativeness. 


Prescription drugs are medications that you should take only under the doctor’s instructions. Many people believe they are harmless, which exposes them to great risk. You can easily get addicted, especially prescription opioids, build a tolerance for drugs, and overdose. Prescription drugs can also be addictive, and you need to get the best addiction help if you feel you are becoming overly dependent on prescription drugs. Some of the most addictive prescription drugs include opioids like codeine, stimulants like amphetamine, and depressants like alprazolam. 

You can get help for any addiction, including addiction to prescription drugs, at Coastline Behavioral Health in Orange County, CA. We offer various drug treatment programs to help overcome various forms of addiction. They include detox, inpatient rehab, intensive outpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, executive rehab, and luxury rehab. Call us today at (741)841-2260 to get addiction treatment for you or a loved one.

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