The Most Addictive Prescription Drugs Available

While drug addiction is sometimes thought of as a problem affecting only “certain groups”, the data on prescription abuse tell another story. In fact, the CDC has termed such abuse as a “growing, deadly epidemic.”

Prescription Drug Addictions

Just because pills are prescribed by a doctor and administered by a pharmacy, that doesn’t mean they are safe for everyone. As prescription numbers continue to rise, the chance for prescription drug abuse rises as well.

Types of Commonly Abused Drugs


Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine prescribed to treat panic disorder and serious anxiety. It calms a person by depressing his or her abnormal central nervous system. Those without a prescription may abuse the drug for its fast-acting sedating and relaxing effects. The Drug Abuse Warning Network says Xanax is the most abused drug for these reasons.

Klonopin & Valium

Much like Xanax, Klonopin and Valium are often misused for their sedative effects. These “highs” can feel similar to the effects of alcohol, including feelings of drunkenness, talkativeness, and relaxation.

Due to these favorable traits, Klonopin, Valium, and other benzodiazepines can be extremely habit-forming, cause blackouts, and even death by overdose. It is not uncommon for Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium to be taken in conjunction with other drugs.


Oxycodone, sold commonly as OxyContin and Percocet, is an opioid that changes the way the brain and central nervous system respond to pain. It creates a euphoric, sedative effect.

Often likened to heroin, Oxycodone is prescribed by doctors about six million times a year. Because these pills can cost big money, pill addicts often have to steal to afford the habit.

Demerol & Darvocet

Like Oxycodone, Demerol and Darvocet are commonly abused painkillers. The danger in these, besides the immediate side effects, is that users often develop a tolerance to the drugs’ effects and will increase their dosage. Often, this leads to painful and possibly even violent withdrawal symptoms.

In 2010, Darvocet was pulled off the market in the United States because it was found to lead to heart complications in patients.

Codeine (Purple Drank)

Codeine is often combined with other medications to reduce coughing and pain. This opiate is commonly found in prescription-strength cough syrup. When consumed in high quantities, Codeine-based cough syrup has a sedative effect and can cause altered levels of consciousness.

Codeine cough syrup is the base for “purple drank” or “sizzurp,” a concoction made with soda and candy that was popularized in some early 2000s hip-hop music.

Amphetamines (Speed)

Simply known as speed, amphetamines are prescribed for conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy where focus and wakefulness are needed to combat symptoms. However, they have been historically misused for their energizing capabilities.

It’s most commonly misused today under the brand name Adderall by those who need to skip on sleep, such as truck drivers, college students working on deadlines, and shift workers.


Similar to Adderall, Ritalin is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system by increasing levels of dopamine—a hormone that heightens attention—in the brain. As with other stimulants, it can be habit forming.

One reason Ritalin and other ADHD drugs are so commonly abused is their availability. In 2005, doctors prescribed Ritalin and similar drugs more than 29 million times, and that number continues to rise.

Helping Loved Ones With Prescription Drug Addictions

If you suspect someone you love is abusing one of these medications, it’s important to get them help, which may include counseling or rehabilitation.
Our 800RecoveryHub site offers free and confidential help

If you’ve discovered pills in your home, try Healthline’s Pill Identifier to determine what prescription medication it may be.

Important to Note: Anxiolytic Drugs are the most addictive, especially amoung teens and people under 30.Some of the more frequently prescribed anxiolytics are benzodiazepines. These include:

  • Alprazolam (Niravam, Xanax)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

This drugs can also be the hardest to quit. Detoxing from these medications should be done under the supervision of a doctor. Withdrawal symptoms include seizures. Heroin addicts will often seek out this kind of medication.

Fact Sheet
The DEA has an easy to read fact sheet here.

14 thoughts on “The Most Addictive Prescription Drugs Available

  1. I think methamphetamine is the worst of the worst. Getting people of that shit is incredibly challenging.. Unfortunately, I have people in the extended family really struggling with this. Truly, this drug is the making of the devil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s been a few decades since I have had “first hand” experience with meth. The drug has changed from bad to worse to evil …. like you said. The “meth mouth” syndrome is all the visual proof I need. That is a new phenomenon. I can only assume it’s a bi-product of so many toxins and chemicals that the “manufacturers” have added to the drug. It is bad stuff, indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. With those close to me, I have seen this. It is hideous. The other issue, serious, is that it is so easy to make. There are literally hundreds of recipes. All involving industrial chemicals. The exclusion of ephederine really is nothing but a nuisance to those that manufacture. Some similiar crap can be picked up at veterinary supply and agricultural stores.


  2. Educating yourself on each drug, what it entails, as well as the company making each is very important. Mental Illness requires some drug therapy at times, everyone is different. Prescription Drug addiction is at its highest. Thank you for posting this helpful information for others to read. Hopefully, this will help people struggling with addiction.


    1. I agree. I was really pleased when I found the drug identifier tool over at Healthline. What a great resource if you find a pill and don’t know what it is. Of course, if you have someone in the house that you suspect is abusing drugs, it is an invaluable resource. I put the link at the bottom of the article, but here it is again


  3. Reblogged this on #Uniteforsupport and commented:
    This is wonderful information for anyone that is curious what to look out for when it comes to loved ones potential drug use. I was completely oblivious to the vast array of pharmacueticals that are being distributed on the streets AND in the school system. Please take a moment to educate yourself on the extremely addictive drugs in circulation.


  4. As person with three medical conditions that require pills, I actually have done very good to not get addicted to any. Personally, it because it fear in me that could become addictive, that I usually give himself the scare


  5. I take klonopin, prescribed by my psychiatrist and for me it doesn’t really do anything,but I know if I increase the dose, that cycle will continue. When I first started taking benzos, I tried xanax. I took it to sleep. I had no interest in getting high. It worked really well with knocking me out, and I was happy to get sleep that I was so deprived off.
    After awhile they stopped working as well, and there starts the problem, taking another one, to get the same effect. after awhile it doesn’t do anything. I never did more than 2mg. I weaned myself off for about to weeks, but the stress I was going through in my life and lack of sleep drove me back.
    I finally went to a psychiatrist who gave me klonopin, it is the same thing. at this point they do nothing for my sleep or anxiety. I have not taken more than my prescribed amount of 3 a day. If I were to stop, I would be going through withdrawls. I have to have them in my system now. I have not taken more than the 1,5 that I am allowed per day, but I also take 150mg of Vistaril, which does nothing either.
    My only reason for taking them was for my sleep disorder and anxiety. I have never really noticed any feeling of being high. The only thing I notice is I am more active then less.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish that did not need this crap. I have tried everything and nothing works. Sometimes I think it is better not to sleep, but once you are on that stuff, you just can’t quit cold turkey


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