The 7 Most Addictive Prescription Medications

For people who struggle with chronic pain, sleep disorders, or mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, prescription drugs can vastly improve their quality of life. However, many of the medications that effectively treat these conditions can also be highly addictive. When taken in a way other than prescribed, these drugs can have serious negative consequences. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 46 people die every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids.

Most people who start taking prescription medication don't think they will ever become addicted. But addiction is insidious, sneaking up on you when you least expect it. Awareness is the key to prevention, so here are a few of the most addictive prescription medications that are commonly abused in America today.


A combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, Vicodin is prescribed for moderate to severe pain relief and works by blocking pain receptors in the brain. Patients who take Vicodin often feel a rush of euphoria as the pain subsides, making it attractive -  but also highly addictive. The longer a patient takes Vicodin, the more tolerance they may develop for the drug, meaning they'll need a higher dose to achieve the same effect.


For the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain, OxyContin is an extremely efficient method of long-lasting treatment, specially formulated to release oxycodone slowly over a twelve-hour period. Those who abuse OxyContin, however, often bypass the time-release feature by crushing, chewing, or dissolving the pills, receiving a fast and intense high with a dangerously large dosage of the drug.


An opiate used to treat mild to moderate pain, codeine is usually prescribed to patients in the form of a cough syrup or a combination pill with Tylenol. While it's not as strong as morphine, codeine provides many of the same effects, such as a deep sense of euphoria and severe drowsiness. Persistent abuse can lead to seizures, respiratory distress, and overdose.


Intended to be prescribed only to patients with severe pain, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is fifty to one hundred times as powerful as morphine. Administered via a patch, a lozenge, or an injection, fentanyl is considered extremely dangerous because of its potency; high doses can cause patients to stop breathing completely.


In a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, Xanax is used to help patients who are suffering from anxiety and panic disorders by creating a calming effect on the brain. Many people who become addicted to Xanax chase this feeling of intense relaxation, only to find they can no longer function without it.


Valium is another benzodiazepine, used as a muscle relaxant, anti-convulsant, and tranquilizer. Chronic abuse of Valium not only contributes to memory loss, mood swings, and lethargy, but when combined with other drugs such as alcohol, it also carries a high risk of coma, or even death.


Stimulants, such as Ritalin, are prescribed to suppress the symptoms of ADHD. When used recreationally, they can induce a feeling of euphoria, increasing the chances of developing a dangerous addiction. High doses can lead to paranoia, psychosis, and even heart failure.

Alvarado Parkway Institute offers treatment for prescription drug addiction.

If you are struggling with an addiction to prescription medication, you know that quitting isn't easy. Fortunately, Alvarado Parkway Institute is here to help. We offer supervised detox, individual and group counseling, behavioral therapy, and aftercare planning, all in a safe, supportive environment. Whether you're in need of residential treatment in San Diego or outpatient care, Alvarado Parkway Institute can design an addiction treatment program to suit your individual needs.

Call us today at (619) 485-1432 and start on the road to a drug-free life.

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