This Is the Most Dangerous Pain Pill Ever (Plus the Others You Should Avoid)

The White House declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, and states are offering help to those affected by addiction. So, which pills put you at the greatest risk of becoming addicted? These are the most addictive pain pills, including the most dangerous and common one (on page 10).

1. Lorcet

A pharmaceutical technician prepares to separate a prescription of the generic drug Lorcet at the Post Haste Pharmacy
Is this medication safe? | Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Side effects: mental and physical impairment, anxiety, and psychic dependence

First developed in Germany in 1923, Lorcet is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen meant to treat moderate to severe pain. Producing “sensations of sedation,” this pain pill can be addicting. In 2014, Lorcet was reclassified to a Schedule II drug in order to make it harder to obtain.

Next: A famous TV character struggled with this addiction.

2. Vicodin

Vicodin is common. |
  • The abuse rates of Vicodin have quadrupled over the last decade.
  • More than 2 million people suffer from severe addiction to the drug.

Have you seen Fox’s medical drama House? The main character famously battled Vicodin addiction. Sadly, this isn’t surprising; Vicodin abuse is a grave concern due to its severe withdrawal symptoms. Many addicts take more than 25 pills a day to get the euphoric effects. Vicodin becomes even more addictive when crushed, snorted, or injected, according to

Next: Doctors won’t even refill this prescription due to addiction issues.

3. Seconal

Male patient lying on a hospital bed
Some patients receive Seconal before surgery. | Antonio_Diaz/Getty Images

Doctors use this drug, a barbiturate hypnotic, to calm you before a major surgery. Seconal affects certain areas of the brain that also influence anxiety and sleeplessness. Doctors are very careful about this drug; they often won’t refill this prescription due to dependence risks. Your chances of abuse greatly increase if you’ve taken Seconal in high doses or over a long period of time.

Next: Millions of Americans struggle with anxiety.

4. Xanax

A pill bottle with Xanax and another drug inside
Xanax can come in blue, white, or an orange/red color. |
  • Young adults, age 18-25, are most likely to have used alprazolam for non-medical purposes, with a 10.3% abuse rate.
  • About 140,000 emergency-room visits were reported for Xanax-related issues in 2009 — a nearly 150% increase from five years before.
  • Signs of abuse: tremors, difficulty sleeping, and swelling of the hands and feet

Alprazolam, sold under the name Xanax, can ease the effects of anxiety and panic disorders by depressing the central nervous system. This calming effect makes life manageable for sufferers, but some people abuse Xanax to get its fast-acting results.

Next: This drug is a variation of morphine. 

5. MS Contin

MS Contin comes in a bright pink variety. | Areeya_ann/iStock/Getty Images

MS Contin, also known as extended-release morphine, is used to help relieve severe, ongoing pain. It’s common for pain relief from cancer. It is an opioid and poses a high risk of addiction and overdose for those not used to taking opioids.

WebMD stresses that MS Contin is not for mild pain and should not be taken for pain that only lasts a few days. There are certain medications that should not be taken in combination with it, so tell your doctor about any medications you’re already taking.

Next: This drug is best known as a cough syrup.

6. Codeine

Cough syrup
Codeine works as the base of an illicit drug mixture. | SteveMcsweeny/Getty Images
  • About 33 million Americans use it for non-medical purposes each year.
  • Signs of abuse: financial and interpersonal problems, blue tinges on the lips and fingernail beds, mood swings, and more

Prescribed for mild to moderate pain, codeine manages flu and cold symptoms. It’s most commonly found in prescription-strength cough syrup. When taken in large quantities, it becomes a sedative, explains Healthline. Abusers use it to make an “illicit drug concoction” that also involves candy or soda.

Next: This drug is often prescribed for childbirth pain. 

7. Demerol

pain killer pills on blue background
Painkiller pills | BCFC/iStock/Getty Images
  • Side effects: trouble breathing, hallucinations, and seizures

Demerol can be used for moderate to severe pain, including pain after childbirth. It’s important to tell your doctor if you’ve taken this opioid in the past, have used certain medications, or have any kind of respiratory depression.

Next: This drug is commonly used for cancer-related pain. 

8. OxyContin

Oxycontin bottle on shelf
This well-known drug is used for ongoing pain, like cancer-related issues. | Pureradiancephoto/Getty Images

OxyContin, also known as Oxycodone, is used for severe, ongoing pain, such as pain from cancer. To avoid addiction, only take the medicine exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take it longer than your doctor suggests. Opioid addiction has a greater risk of development if you’ve been taking the medication for 30 or more days.

Next: This drug is known as “hillbilly heroin.”

9. Percocet

This pill is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. |

Some addicts refer to Percocet as “hillbilly heroin” or “perks,” because it elicits feelings of euphoria and heightened pleasure when taken in large doses. A mix of the opioid oxycodone and acetaminophen, Percocet is not usually prescribed for chronic pain. Instead, those experiencing an injury or surgery may take it for short-term relief.

Next: The most dangerous pain pill of all

10. Fentanyl

Heroin dose compared to Fentanyl
A comparison of heoine and fentanyl doses | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • The rate of fentanyl-related overdose deaths rose from 14.3% to 46% from 2010 to 2016.
  • Signs of abuse: headaches, mood changes, shaking, trouble urinating, and more

Fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine — and 50 times more potent than pure, pharmacy-grade heroin. It’s often prescribed for those who have developed a tolerance for “weaker” opiates, but it can be highly addictive. Famously, this synthetic opioid was implicated in the 2016 death of singer Prince.

Next: A blue pill with blue withdrawal symptoms

11. Zanaflex

Blue and white pills |

Signs of abuse: vomiting, tremors, increased blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin

This short-acting muscle relaxer blocks nerve sensations to your brain, so it will treat muscle spasticity for those who have suffered from a spinal injury or multiple sclerosis.

Next: This drug can reduce your breathing.

12. Hydrocodone

hydrocodone tablets spilling out
This pill can lead to a nasty reliance. | smartstock/Getty Images
  • Americans consume about 99% of the global supply of hydrocodone.

Hydrocodone is a main habit-forming opioid. A very potent drug, there is a risk of slowed or stopped breathing during the first 72 hours of taking it.

Next: Another way to “get drunk”

13. Klonopin and Valium

Hand with two pills
Klonopin and Valium abuse is rather common, unfortunately. |

Signs of abuse: paranoia, constipation, and hallucinations

Both forms of benzodiazepines, Klonopin and Valium treat seizures, as well as anxiety and panic disorders. These pills deliver sedative effects, much like Xanax, similar to the feeling of drinking alcohol, like talkativeness and relaxation. The most common way Klonopin and Valium are abused is in combination with other drugs.

Next: This blended drug can become a deadly combination.

14. Zydone

Pills in bottle
A combo of pills | Luchschen/iStock/Getty Images

A combination of both an opioid pain reliever (hydrocodone) and a non-opioid pain reliever (acetaminophen), it’s used to treat moderate to severe pain caused by diseases like cancer. Zydone can become highly addictive if it’s taken over long periods of time.

Next: This drug can have serious respiratory side effects. 

15. Dilaudid

This pill comes in a round, white shape. |

Dilaudid, also known as hydromorphone, is an opioid pain reliever. It can be highly addictive if taken for a long time. If too much is taken, it can cause respiratory arrest. As with most opioids, tell your doctor if you have any history of a brain or mental disorder.

Next: This drug is given as a nasal spray or injection. 

16. Stadol

Female hand holds nasal spray.
Nasal sprays are useful, but addictive. | LIgorko/Getty Images

Stadol, or butorphanol, is an opioid available as a nasal spray or injectable solution. It can also be used during anesthesia or childbirth.  Stadol originally came onto the medical scene in the 1970s, but it was quickly realized that it could be dangerous. It is a Schedule II controlled substance, which means that it can be highly addictive. Make sure to take it exactly as directed by your doctor.

Next: Don’t panic if this happens. 

Don’t panic if you’re prescribed an opioid

A sad and depressed young man
There are ways to ensure you don’t become addicted. |

Although opioids can be highly addictive, don’t panic if you’re prescribed one. Doctors know how to control the dosage to prevent addiction. Plus, most opioids are only taken for a few days, decreasing your chance of addiction. According to the Harvard Medical School, 97% of opioid patients have no problem with the drug.

If you’re on a long-term prescription, however, check in with your doctor monthly to reassess the drug’s effect.

Next: Signs of an addiction and what to do next

Here are the signs of opioid addiction

America's Opiate Prescription addiction problem is becoming the greatest threat to the American Middle class
Signs you may be in trouble. | GillTeeShots/Getty Images

If you think you or someone you know could have an opioid addiction, it’s important to seek help. Some signs of abuse and withdrawal include:

  • slowed breathing
  • confusion
  • doctor shopping (getting multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors)
  • noticeable financial problems (from spending so much money on the drugs)
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • anxiety

If you think you need help managing your own addiction, tell your loved ones and call the local addiction hotline; most states have them. You can also call the national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. The hotline is free, confidential, and available 24 hours.

Addiction cannot be treated without help, and notifying family members can help with finding success in treatment.

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