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The Most Addictive Prescription Drugs

Prescription medications help people deal with pain and treat a wide range of medical conditions. They can be highly effective when used properly and per physician recommendations. When abused, taken improperly, or used in ways other than prescribed, prescription drugs can become addictive. What’s worse, they have the potential for producing dangerous adverse medical effects, including death. As the number of prescription medications increases and reasons for taking them to do too, the chance for prescription drug abuse and addiction rises as well, especially among adolescents and teens.


The first category of addictive prescription drugs falls in the stimulants category. Doctors prescribe stimulants for medical reasons to temporarily improve focus, alertness, concentration, and productivity. Stimulants may be prescribed for someone who has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as well as for certain sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy. In some cases, stimulants are prescribed in very obese patients. In this category, the most commonly abused drugs are:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta

Adderall and Ritalin are commonly abused among college and high school students, particularly during exam time, due to their ability to increase mental focus, concentration, and motivation. These stimulants can also provide feelings of euphoria, exhilaration, along with increased mental energy.

The Most Addictive Prescription Drugs–Opioids

Physicians prescribe opioids to provide pain relief. Especially when over-the-counter pain medications can’t control patient pain. When taken responsibly, patients who are dealing with pain following a surgery, as a result of cancer, or as a consequence of an accident, disability, or another medical condition, find they can live life with minimal or no pain, or even develop a new positive outlook on life. The three most commonly abused and addictive prescription drugs in the opioid category are:

  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Vicodin

When used improperly, these medications pose a serious medical risk, including low pulse, low blood pressure, slowed or arrested breath, coma, unconsciousness, and even death. The risk of death rises when taken with alcohol or depressants.

Depressants and Sedatives

Sedatives and depressants relieve anxiety, sleep disorders, and panic attacks. They produce a calming effect and work to slow brain activity. They can also lower inhibitions and give someone a feeling of well-being. The most commonly abused depressants include:

  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Ambien

Because these depressants and sedatives slow brain function, when a person abruptly stops taking them after abusing them regularly, it can lead to seizures. Also, there is an increased risk of slowed breathing, lowered blood pressure, respiratory distress, and even death, particularly when combined with alcohol. When addicted to, these medications put a person at risk for an overdose.

Helping a Loved One Struggling with Addictive Prescription Drugs

If you, your child, or someone else you love, might be abusing or addicted to one or more of these medications, it is vital to get help. Breaking free from prescription drug addiction often takes more than sheer willpower. It takes support, counseling, and rehabilitation. Contact Destinations for Teens today at 877.466.0620 to learn more about overcoming prescription drug addiction. Inpatient and outpatient programs, such as 12-step programs, continued care, and relapse prevention, are helping thousands of people begin their recovery and remain on the road to recovery.