Prescription Drugs – Marketed as Safe But Often Addictive


Addictive prescription drugs – the phrase seems like a paradox. If a doctor gives me a prescription for a medication, I should assume that the drug is safe to take, right? Besides, all prescription medications must undergo FDA (Food and Drug Association) approval; therefore, I should be able to take a prescribed medication without fear of addiction.


Just because a doctor prescribes a medication does not mean that it is safe (think about all the warnings you hear on commercials for various types of medicines). Just because a doctor prescribes a medication does not make it non-addictive. In fact, one can rightly say there is an epidemic in our country that was created by the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, overdoses from prescription medications were up nearly thirty percent last year.

Prescription medication is often more addictive than certain illicit drugs in that some medications flood the brain with dopamine, which is the brain’s “reward” system. This can cause users to feel “high,” and, over time, most users build up a tolerance to the chemicals in the prescription that produce the high. Therefore, patients may misuse the prescription (i.e., taking more than the prescribed amount) in order to maintain the good feeling the medication once produced.

Typically, the most addictive prescription medications include:

  • Opioids
  • Oxycodone
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Meperidine (Demerol)

Opioids are synthetic medications that can produce a euphoric high in the user. Just a few decades ago, this type of medication was reserved for end-of-life cancer patients due to the possibility of addiction. A movement in the mid-1990s kicked off a trend in which patients who had chronic pain – back pain, joint pain, and the like – were prescribed opioids fairly commonly. Opioids are highly addictive and the user typically develops a tolerance for the drug after a period of use.

Getting treatment for opioid addiction is often required as there are physical withdrawal symptoms.


Oxycodone (typically known by its retail name Oxycontin) is a synthetic opiate that is highly addictive. Oxycodone may be prescribed by itself or mixed with acetaminaphen and sold as Percocet. Oxycodone works to change how the user’s central nervous system responds to pain. Because it works the same as an opiate, those who misuse Oxycodone or Percocet may experience euphoria as well as a sedative type of effect. It also causes physical withdrawal symptoms. Like other synthetic opiates, Oxycodone typically causes users to build a tolerance which requires them to use more and more in order to feel that initial effect.


Codeine has a wide range of uses. It may prescribed for pain reduction in those who have mild or moderate chronic pain. It is also an ingredient in some cough syrups. Codeine is most often found in prescription-strength cough suppressants. Codeine tends to give a sedative effect in users; it may also cause a loss of consciousness or cause blackouts in which the person may act out of character then fail to remember his or her actions.


Fentanyl is also a synthetic opioid that is highly dangerous when misused. Prescribed for both acute and recurring pain, fentanyl is usually reserved for cancer patients. This is because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that fentanyl is between fifty and one hundred times stronger than morphine. It is also highly addictive, and today many overdoses are due to the misuse of fentanyl. Like other opioids, Fentanyl may cause euphoria and sedation. Those who misuse fentanyl may experience nightmares and hallucinations.


Demerol (also known as Meperidine) is also a synthetic opioid that produces feelings of euphoria. It is typically given for high levels of pain, although this is usual for acute, not chronic, pain.

You may notice that most of the prescription medications on this list are synthetic opioids. Consistent misuse of opioids can lead to addiction. Unfortunately, in order to get those initial euphoric feelings, you may feel obligated to take more than the recommended dose. This is highly dangerous and can lead to accidental overdose. However, you can overcome opiate or opioid addiction! Treatment programs are available and ready to help!

Are you ready to break the chains of addiction? Call 833-497-3812 for more information!