8 Most Addictive Prescription Drugs
Understanding the Most Addictive Prescription Drugs
Any drug can be addictive, not just illegal recreational ones like heroin and cocaine. In fact, some of the most addictive varieties in use today are obtained legally and only with a doctor’s prescription; they’re not intended for pleasure but to alleviate profound physical, emotional, and psychological pain from injuries or mental trauma. For those with prescription drug dependence, understanding how these drugs work and knowing the most addictive prescription drugs can help them move toward recovery.
Drug addiction occurs when your brain gets used to receiving dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects the brain’s pleasure center. In large doses, this can cause a euphoric “rush” so pleasurable that the user may try to repeat the experience. Eventually, the brain builds up a dependence on the drug, and the user becomes addicted and needs detox.
Addictive prescription drugs come in three categories: opioids, prescribed for physical pain; central nervous system depressants, commonly called tranquilizers; and stimulants, which are used to raise energy levels and improve brain activity.
Prescribed for severe pain, opioids are one of the most addictive prescription drugs available. They were developed for “breakthrough” cancer pain, which is so strong it “breaks through” traditional pain-relieving drugs.
The intense euphoria makes them highly addictive and highly abused. Signs of abuse include changes in personality; joy followed by lethargy, drowsiness, and confusion; headaches, nausea and vomiting; and possibly even seizures.
There are four commonly used opioids:
- Oxycodone (Brand Name OxyContin): A sedative that creates a relaxed but euphoric feeling.
- Codeine: Often prescribed in cough medicine, it is said to cause euphoric feelings that make the user feel like they’re swooning. It’s sometimes consumed wot soda and candy to increase the effect.
- Fentanyl: A synthetic opioid prescribed for intense pain, it’s 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is involved in half the opioid-related deaths in the United States each year.
- Meperidine (Brand Name Demerol): This synthetic opioid is often prescribed for moderate to severe pain and can produce feelings of euphoria.
Central Nervous System Depressants
Better known as tranquilizers, Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants include barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Symptoms of misuse include drowsiness, lethargy and irritability; memory problems, confusion and slurred speech; nausea and vomiting; and personality changes.
Popular kinds of CNS depressants include:
- Clonazepam (brand name Klonopin)
- Diazepam (brand name Valium)
These sedatives are often misused and are among the hardest addictions to kick. They produce “highs” that many users compare to the feeling of being drunk.
Prescription stimulants are used to raise energy levels and focus. Many stimulant addicts start using them to be more productive and focused at school or work. Signs of misuse include aggressive behavior, hostility and paranoia; reduced appetite and weight loss; vision changes; and nausea and vomiting.
There are two commonly used forms:
- Amphetamine (Brand Name Adderall): Commonly called “speed” or “uppers,” amphetamine is often used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and narcolepsy because it helps the brain to focus and stay alert.
- Methylphenidate (Brand Name Ritalin): Another treatment for ADD improves attention by raising dopamine levels.
Get Help for Prescription Drug Addiction at Muse
Muse Treatment uses a variety of therapies to assist clients in recovering from prescription drug addiction. Commonly used strategies include cognitive therapy, which tries to influence the patient’s thinking, expectations and behavior while increasing their coping mechanism for various life situations. Patients undergoing prescription detox will do so under medical supervision so their withdrawal symptoms can be carefully monitored.
To learn how we assist you in your journey toward recovery, call Muse Treatment at (800) 426-1818 today.