What Are the Most Addictive Types of Painkillers?

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What Are the Most Addictive Types of Painkillers?

The most addictive types of painkillers on the market today are synthetic or semi-synthetic opiates. These drugs work by attaching to a person’s receptors and changing the messages in the brain. These painkillers treat chronic pain that cannot be controlled with over-the-counter medication.  Of course, doctors are aware of the addictive qualities of these prescription drugs and try to control the dosages appropriately to minimize the risk of addiction. In some cases, addiction is often the result of a patient trying to control their dosages to manage pain.

Many people have a genetic predisposition to addiction, which includes pain pills and other addictive substances. A current study shows that abuse of the most addictive types of painkillers is second only to marijuana when considering only illegal use. A government study in 2007 found that 1.7 million people over the age of 12 had an addiction to painkillers. The study also found that 57 percent of those who had taken prescription painkillers for reasons other than pain management had gotten them for free from an acquaintance.  also, nearly 18 percent of people taking painkillers for recreational purposes received the medication from a doctor.

Most Addictive Types of Painkillers Commonly Abused

All in all, painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Below are some of the commonly used of the most addictive types of painkillers. Some of them have received copious amounts of media attention due to high-profile celebrities becoming addicted to them after medical procedures.


The generic name for this drug is Butorphanol.  It is a nasal spray or injectable solution. Stadol is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and has side effects including skin rash, anxiety, breathing problems, confusion, and ringing in the ears.


The generic name for Demerol is Meperidine. Demerol is taken orally as a pill or in an injectable solution. It helps relieve moderate to severe pain and has side effects of this addictive pain medicine including skin rash, wheezing, fainting, hallucinations, and seizures.  This is also a highly addictive medication.


Prescribed to patients who have taken other pain medications for at least a week and need additional pain relief. It is taken as a lozenge, an injectable solution, or as a patch applied to the skin. Fentanyl is often prescribed to treat intense cancer pain that other pain medications are not strong enough for. However, it has side effects such as breathing problems, confusion, hallucinations, and irregular heartbeat.


Made of Oxycodone, OxyContin is one of the most popular addictive painkillers. It is also one of the most prescribed ones for moderate to severe pain. It has fewer side effects than similar addictive pain pills but can include breathing difficulties, confusion, and light-headed feelings.


These addictive pills are a form of Oxycodone and Acetaminophen that treats moderate to severe pain. This addictive painkiller has similar side effects to OxyContin and can also cause stomach pain, yellowing of the skin, and skin rash.


A narcotic pain reliever that treats severe pain caused by an injury or disease. Over time,  some users develop a tolerance to this drug. Dependence can develop into prescription drug addiction. Surprisingly, many who abuse Vicodin may even abuse anywhere from 20 to 30 pills on a given day; some consume even more.


A narcotic analgesic that is a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. This commonly abused painkiller puts a person at significant risk of developing an addiction that can form as soon as or even before a month of abuse.

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Side Effects of Painkiller Abuse

Those who abuse painkillers put themselves at high risk for a variety of physical side-effects. For example, some of these health effects include:

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe mood swings
  • Liver damage
  • Small pupils
  • Respiratory depression
  • Deadly overdose

The side effects of painkiller abuse do not end with the physical effects but go on to affect every aspect of a person’s life. Addicts and abusers are at risk of experiencing financial struggles due to the high cost of keeping up with an expensive habit, as well as the risk of losing their job. Furthermore, a person’s relationships suffer as well.

Prescription painkillers are powerful drugs that are highly beneficial for those suffering from chronic pain. In reality, most people who take these prescription medications do not become addicted, and it is better to treat chronic pain with them rather than to forgo medication because of the fear of addiction.  Of course, the key is to realize that these most addictive types of painkillers carry the risk of dependency.

Signs of Opiate Addiction

Do you know how to tell if someone is high on painkillers? Indeed, it’s not easy spotting the signs of addiction.  Overall, the signs and symptoms vary from person to person.  Not to mention, some folks are rather good at hiding their addiction.

Warning signs to look for:

  • Refilling their prescription drugs more frequently than as directed.
  • Going to a multitude of doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions; a practice known as doctor shopping.
  • Distancing themselves from family and friends, to spend time alone.
  • Spending money quickly and with no reasonable explanation for going through it so quickly.
  • Changes in mood or experiences mood swings.
  • Missing work or neglecting obligations.

In summary, addiction to one of these most addictive types of painkillers requires professional addiction treatment to ensure safe withdrawal and recovery.

If you would like more information about the most addictive types of painkillers, please call our toll-free number today.  Or, if you need to learn more about addiction treatment, we are also available to help you choose a program that is right for your needs.


  • verywellmind.com – Ten Most Addictive Painkillers
  • drugabuse.gov – Prescription Opioids