Warning Label: Most Addictive Prescriptions on the Market Today
Prescription medications are among the most abused substances in the United State. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) about 16 million people report using a prescription drug for a nonmedical reason. Stimulants, depressants, and opiates are the most commonly abused prescriptions. Opiates, in particular, are part of a major epidemic in the U.S. The following are the most addictive prescription pain medications currently on the market.
Hydrocodone (codeine) is a pain reliever that may be prescribed alone or combined with ibuprofen or aspirin. Hydrocodone is an opiate drug derived from poppy. When abused, codeine can cause euphoria as well as intense withdrawal symptoms.
Oxycodone, sometimes simply called oxy and sold under the brand name OxyContin, is also an opiate painkiller derived from poppy. This drug is usually formulated with ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain medication and prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone can cause a euphoric effect and many people who become addicted do so while using it according to their doctor’s instruction. Oxycodone users are at risk of both physical and psychological dependence.
Percocet, a brand name of oxycodone, is a notoriously addictive medication that can lead to heart failure when taken in excessive amounts to produce the sense of euphoria. People who take Percocet or OxyContin are at risk of physical dependency after just a couple of weeks, even when taken as prescribed.
Fentanyl is a highly potent and addictive painkiller. As with other opiates, fentanyl can cause euphoria, lethargy, and mellowness. This synthetic drug is about 50-100 times more powerful than morphine and is usually prescribed for severe pain, such as pain following surgery. The NIDA warns that the heroin epidemic of the last few years is now leading the way to a fentanyl epidemic. This drug has killed 47,000 people between 2014 and 2016.
Sold under the brand name Demerol, meperidine has a similar effect as an opiate but it is a synthetic drug created in a lab. Demerol is usually prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain. While it was designed to be less addictive than most opiates, it has a high potential of dependency. Meperidine can lead to euphoria as well as confusion, seizures, and delirium.
Physicians can take many steps to reduce prescription abuse in their practice. This includes using databases like MedPro Systems that adhere to PDMA regulations and watching for warning signs of drug abuse in patients. The PDMA regulates pharmaceutical samples and has more information about regulations on their site. If you are worried about the painkillers you’ve been prescribed, talk to your doctor about the possible side effects and addictive tendencies they have.
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