Which Types of Prescription Drugs Are the Most Abused?

types of prescription drugs

In 2017, over 17,000 Americans died from prescription opioids overdoses. While this included all age ranges, teens have a tendency to believe since the drug has a prescription, it’s safe. But they aren’t.

How to kids get a hold of these prescriptions? Most of them find them in the medicine cabinet at home. But kids aren’t the only ones testing prescription drugs for recreational purposes.

For example, young adults make up 60% of those using Adderall for nonmedical reasons.

So what types of prescription drugs are most likely to be abused?


Sedatives include sleep medications like Lunesta and Ambien. It also includes benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium.

Sedatives are usually prescribed to treat sleep disorders, anxiety, and panic disorders.

As a result, people use sedatives to help them relax and calm down or even get to sleep. Sedatives can help tame racing thoughts, and even create feelings of euphoria.

Yet, they’re all highly addictive. This is the case even if they’re marketed as a less addictive version. An overdose can cause comas, cardiac issues, breathing problems, or even death. These drugs are especially lethal when mixed with other sedatives.

Pain Killers

Dr. House, from the TV series House, abused Vicodin to help control his pain. Other commonly abused painkillers include Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Morphine, and Methadone.

Pain killers are a true gateway drug. 86% of urban heroin users used prescription opioids before switching to heroin. Compared to prescription pain killers, heroin was cheaper and easier to get.

Anthony Kedis is a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In his book, Scar Tissue, he attributed his first relapse to prescription painkillers. They were given to him during a dental procedure.

Painkillers have other detriments. Like others on this list, an overdose on painkillers is lethal.

Curious about the opioid crisis? You can learn more here.


The most commonly abused stimulants are Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. With a prescription, they’re used to treat conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy.

Recreationally, people use stimulants to improve their focus and memory.

But like the other drugs on this list, it’s possible to overdose and die. Depending on the drug, they can cause physical or habitual addictions.

Cough Medicines

You don’t need a prescription to get cough medicine. As a result, people are turning to it for recreational purposes.

In high doses, cough syrup can mimic the effects of drugs like PCP and ketamine.

Even though people can buy cough syrup without a prescription, it’s not safe in doses large enough to get high. Overdose can cause seizures, and even coma or death.

These Types of Prescription Drugs Are Most Likely to Be Abused

These types of prescription drugs are most likely to be abused. When you have a prescription drug in your home, use them responsibly. Make sure the drugs are only used by the individual with the prescription.

Keep an eye out for missing medicines. Always safely dispose of unused medicines to keep them out of reach.

Are you or someone you love battling addiction? Please call us today at 855-822-4265. We can help.