Prescription Meds That Are Highly Addictive and Dangerous

There’s no denying that modern medicine has been extremely beneficial in our society. But just because a pill is prescribed by a doctor doesn’t mean it’s completely safe for everyone to take. In fact, some prescription medications have some dangerous side effects — and some are downright addictive.

Of course, just because a medication is addictive doesn’t mean you’ll develop a dependence or that the pros won’t outweigh the cons. But if you are prescribed one of these pills that come with a certain reputation, know the risks and proceed with extreme caution.


pain killer pills on blue background

Xanax is abused for it’s calming effects. | BCFC/iStock/Getty Images

Xanax is a benzodiazepine prescribed to treat anxiety and help with panic disorder. It’s designed to calm the person down by depressing the abnormal central nervous system. While those who truly need it tend to benefit, those without a prescription often abuse Xanax for its relaxing and sedating effects.

Vicodin (hydrocodone)

man pouring pills into his hand

Vicodin causes an addictive high. |

Vicodin is an opiate that physicians often prescribe to relieve moderate pain. It blocks pain receptors in the brain, but it also induces a sense of euphoria and a “high” that can easily become addictive.

Adderall (amphetamines)

housewife eating pills

Adderall is prescribed to those with ADHD. | CentralITAlliance/iStock/Gettty Images

Amphetamines like Adderall are prescribed for conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy. They have a history of being misused. In recent years, Adderall has been abused especially heavily by those who need to skip sleep to power through something, such as college students and truck drivers.


boyfriend and girlfriend shooting up with heroin syringe

Methadone works for those suffering from a heroin addiction. |

Methadone is a synthetic opioid most commonly used to treat heroin addiction. Although it has been shown to be effective, it is still a powerful opiate with highly addictive qualities.


Fat guy sleeping on the couch

Codeine was popularized in the early 2000s. |

Codeine is an opiate commonly found in prescription-strength cough syrup. It has a long history of abuse — in fact, it’s the base for “purple drank,” a concoction popularized in the early 2000s made with soda and candy. When it’s consumed in high quantities, it has a sedative effect some people get addicted to.



Those addicted to oxycodone are more likely to become addicted to heroin. | John Moore/Getty Images

Oxycodone is one of the most dangerous addictive prescription drugs that is still on the market. It comes in several forms, such as OxyContin, Percordan, and Percocet. While it is a very effective pain reliever, it also delivers a powerful and extremely intoxicating high. Those who get addicted to oxycodone are 40 times more likely to develop a heroin abuse problem.

Addiction is on the rise

Prescription bottles at Publix

One in five teens has admitted to trying a prescription med. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in prescription drug abuse in recent years. It’s so noticeable that the Partnership for a Drug Free America has labeled today’s youth “Generation Rx” since nearly one in five teens has admitted to trying a painkiller like Vicodin or OxyContin or a stimulant like Ritalin to get high.

While increased awareness and treatment options seem to be helping, the fact is, plenty of highly addictive pills are still legal and being regularly prescribed.

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