Imagine a drug addict. What kind of person comes to mind? A shady character on a street corner, a tent village of homeless people, maybe the most recent meth head you watched destroy a convenience store on YouTube. Did you picture a soccer mom in a minivan? How about your grandmother? We think of drug addicts as those who use illicit and illegal substances like methamphetamine and heroin. But, some of the most addictive drugs come with a stamp of approval, a prescription, from our doctor. Here we go over what we consider addiction, our top most addictive prescription drugs, and what you can do if you find yourself dependant on one of these substances.
The Most Addictive Drugs Available With a Prescription
If we are making a list of most addictive drug available at a pharmacy, we have to come to an agreement about what addiction is.
What Do We Mean By Addictive?
Before we answer the question, what is the most addictive drug, we first have to answer what do we mean by addictive? Addiction is a brain disorder. It is the compulsion to partake in a specific substance regardless of the negative effect on their health or their quality of life. The drive to use the substance becomes the most important thing in the person’s life. The user seeks the intoxicating effects of the substance. Intoxication is the “high” you get from a certain drug. This could be a calming or sedative effect, supercharged energy, a feeling of giddiness. Some drugs even cause visual and auditory hallucinations or give the sensation of being outside of yourself. People, at first, become addicted to the feeling the substance gives them. After continued use, the brain begins to get re-wired. The brain is a complex organism. It’s cells and neurons change constantly. So, your brain begins to believe that this intoxicated state should be your new normal. Your brain then changes the wiring and makeup of your brain to convince you and your body that normal is now intoxication. What this means is that even if you try to stop using your body will become very ill. You can suffer from tremors, nausea, excessive sweating, headaches, and more. Addiction is not just a matter of being weak or not having willpower. The addiction and the substance have rewired the brain to develop a dependence on it. It is not easy facing this sickness alone. Most will do anything to avoid this feeling. Even if it means lying or stealing. Even if the people you are lying and stealing from are your own family. Most think illegal drugs are the only kinds of drugs that can cause this intense of an addiction. But, the fact is, even the drugs we receive from the hospital or a doctor’s office can produce an addiction this severe. Some may develop a dependence without ever intending to do so. You can find rehab centers across the country filled with individuals who got hooked on narcotics from a doctor’s prescription. Here we give you the top drugs to look out for if you are prone to addictive behaviors or just want to avoid the risk.
Our Top Most Addictive Prescription Drugs
Here is our list of top addictive drugs you can get with a doctor’s prescription.
Prescription medications that fall into this category are usually given for severe pain. This would be post-surgery or after breaking a bone, etc. This group of medications produces the same euphoric effect as heroin. There is a crisis of opiate addiction and opiate overdose epidemic in our country due to the over-prescribing of these pain drugs. To avoid taking any opioids, advise your physician that you would not like to be prescribed anything in this category and ask them to provide alternative medications. Some drug names to look out for in this category are:
- Fentanyl – Prescribed mainly to cancer patients in tremendous amounts of pain, Fentanyl is 50-100 times stronger than morphine.
- Oxycontin/Oxycodone – This drug produces a euphoric and sedative reaction very similar to heroin. It is also sold under the name Percocet.
- Codeine – Compared to the others in this category, codeine can seem pretty tame. Found in a lot of over the counter cold medications it can cause a sedation and euphoria. People misuse it by taking much more than the recommended dose.
- Demerol – This is another pain medication that is used to treat moderate pain levels. It also has a euphoric/sedative effect.
If overused these types of drugs can cause seizures, difficulty breathing, or even death.
Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines, or Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants
Next on our most addictive drugs list are CNS depressants. These go by a few different classification names including barbiturates, benzodiazepines, or tranquilizers. The most commonly prescribed medications in this category are:
- Xanax – Used to treat anxiety disorders this has an almost immediate sedative effect. The risk of death is greater if used in conjunction with an opioid medication
- Klonopin and Valium – Used to treat seizures, panic attacks, and anxiety these medications produce a euphoria similar to being drunk on alcohol. Like Xanax, these are popularly used in conjunction with opioids which puts you at a higher risk of overdose
These drugs have a calming and sedative effect. But, if subject to overuse they can result in things like memory problems, slurred speech, or lack of coordination. An overdose can also cause death.
There has been a rise in the popularity of prescription stimulants in recent years. Like cocaine, these drugs can give you energy and focus. But, with overuse, you can be facing hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rate, and aggressive irrational behavior. Some medication names that are popular in this category are:
- Adderall – This is the legal form of “speed”. It is prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is mostly misused by people trying to avoid the effects of sleep deprivation like college students studying all night or employees trying to make tight deadlines.
- Ritalin – This is also prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy but has the added benefit of increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine can help focus. Since it is so readily available misuse is common.
If you found the list and data points above interesting, you can also learn about non-prescription and over the counter drugs that have been found to be addictive as well. Browse through the list here. Some of the most common names to make the list are Acetaminophen, Antacids, Benadryl and many other common cold medicines.
How To Identify and Help A Loved One Who May Be Addicted
How do you know if you’re addicted? What signs can you look for? How can you help someone you love if you think they may have a prescription drug addiction? If you think you may be addicted to a medication think about how you have been acting. You may have become paranoid about running out of the medication. You may be counting down the minutes until your next dose even though your pain isn’t substantial. Becoming overly concerned about your medication can be the first sign you’re developing a dependence. This is also a sign to look out for in loved ones who may be taking these addictive medications. Sometimes you can stop the progression of a dependence if you stop it early enough. You should also look out for taking more than the recommended dosages. If the dose your doctor prescribed “isn’t cutting it” anymore and you find yourself taking more you may be becoming dependent. If your doctor refused to fill another prescription for you but you are driven to find a doctor who will then you may have a dependence. This is especially prevalent in pain medication addicts because they are high on the alert system and your doctor will prescribe them less readily.
Find Professional Help
Do those scenarios sound like you or a loved one? Don’t be afraid to get help. Find a professional who deals with prescription drug addiction. You can start a program with your doctor to get you weaned off the medication, you can find rehab centers that specialize in your type of addiction, you can seek out counseling from a psychiatrist who can help. Once you have figured out there is an addiction problem it’s very hard to face it all alone. Go find some help to get your life back and end your dependence.
Be Aware and Self Advocate In Healthcare Situations
One of the best reasons to be aware of the most addictive drugs you may be prescribed is being able to avoid them. You can do this by being your own healthcare advocate, meaning the person who will speak up about understanding what treatments are taking place. If you are in an emergency and taken to a hospital be aware of what is happening. Ask questions about the medications the doctors and nurses may be administering to you. If you feel confused or don’t understand something you’re told ask for clarification. Most people aren’t lucky enough to always have a healthcare advocate with them all the time. The best advocate for you is you. You’re the one who will ultimately face the consequence of the medical decisions being made. Stay involved and let them know what you want to avoid. Looking for other articles that can help you understand more about your health? Check out our EHealth section here for more information.