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Prescription drugs that can lead to addiction

Prescription drugs can be allocated by doctors for surgery, chronic pain, injury or depression. Although these drugs may have been prescribed in the first instance, patients can become addicted in some circumstances. Here, Port of Call outlines which prescription drugs can sometimes lead to addiction. If you are addicted to prescription drugs and need advice, talk to us today for guidance on detox, counselling and drug rehab.

What are the top addictive prescription drugs?

Here, Port of Call has put together an addictive prescription drugs list containing various prescription drugs that are known to cause addiction and the reasons behind why doctors prescribe addictive drugs.

Addictive prescription drugs


Adderall is a form of amphetamine that is used to treat ADHD. It is much stronger than Ritalin and therefore the risk of addiction is higher. It can produce a feeling of being ‘wide awake and full of energy’ which has fuelled reports of students abusing the prescription drug to study harder for exams. The consequences of an Adderall addiction can be very serious and could even lead to death.


Morphine is legally controlled in the UK as a class ‘A’ drug. An opiate drug, Morphine addiction can take hold extremely quickly and therefore needs to be carefully controlled. It causes pleasant side effects, including sensations of deep relaxation and feelings of extreme well-being, but can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms when stopping.


Ritalin is most commonly used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Similar to amphetamine, it works by stimulating the central nervous system, allowing users to stay awake for long periods. Ritalin abuse can lead to weight loss, paranoia, insomnia and damage to body organs.


Codeine is another opiate commonly prescribed by doctors for the treatment of pain. It is possible to buy certain tablet forms of this drug in the UK without a prescription but higher strength codeine is legally controlled and it is against the law to possess it without a prescription from a doctor. It is easy to become addicted to addictive prescription pain pills. It can also damage internal organs and, in some cases, trigger cardiac arrest. A codeine overdose can lead to death.


Diazepam is a sedative. It can be used to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawals and seizures. Abuse of this prescription drug can produce a groggy feeling similar to being drunk. Mixing Diazepam with alcohol can increase the dangers further still. Mental problems can arise from abuse including memory loss but it can also lead to coma and, eventually, death.


Xanax (also known as Alprazolam) also belongs to the benzodiazepine family of drugs. This sedative is prescribed to treat anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and occasionally insomnia. Again, it produces feelings of deep relaxation but is easy to become addicted to and can lead to physical and mental health problems.

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s use of addictive prescription drugs, contact Port of Call today to learn about how drug addiction can be treated through our network of addiction specialists.

Prescription drug addiction news

Britons are thought to spend an estimated £500 million a year on painkillers. In 2012 alone there were 807 fatal overdoses involving prescription medication addiction, compared to 718 deaths from heroin and cocaine overdoses.

Are all prescription drugs addictive? Recreational abuse of prescription drugs is not common but is growing in popularity. In 2008, four percent of Britons said they had used prescription drugs recreationally. According to the Guardian’s British Drugs Survey 2014 that figure has now increased to six percent but is as high as nine percent in the South West, Wales, London and the South East.

If you or a loved one are living with a prescription drug addiction, then Port of Call can help. We can help you find the right rehab for you. Speak to one of our advisers today for free on 08000029010.

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.

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