Drug addiction is a genuine problem for many people and their families. The unfortunate truth is that many different types of drugs are available, and most can cause drug abuse and addiction with continued use.

However, what may be surprising to know is that some seemingly harmless substances can make you an addict over time as well. Nicotine, caffeine, sugar, and certain medications can all be potentially addicting substances. So, what are the addictive substance you should watch out for and the most addictive prescription drugs?

Most Addictive Drugs

All psychoactive drugs, even prescription drugs, have the potential for abuse. These are often referred to as street drugs or hard drugs, and this is because they come from illegal drug markets which sell unregulated products of unknown purity and potency.

Street drugs can be anything from marijuana and amphetamines to heroin and cocaine. These products are on the list of the drug enforcement administration because they are potentially very dangerous because they often contain unknown substances such as other addictive drugs, poisons, or contaminants, making them even more harmful than expected.

That, combined with the illegal market in which they come from, and their untested purity levels, makes them very unsafe to use.

Commonly Used Substances You Can Get Addicted To

Even if you stick to the more commonly used substances, some substances can be highly addictive because they are so accessible.

The drugs listed below are all potentially addicting, which means that they have a high likelihood of causing dependence and addiction when used for an extended period.

  • Nicotine – highly addicting
  • Caffeine – moderately addicting
  • Sugar – highly addicting
  • Prescription medication – potentially very addicting

When taken in high enough quantities, all of the above substances can cause an addiction. These drugs are often referred to as “soft” or “white” drugs because they come from legal and medical markets and are typically regulated and sold as safe products.


For example, caffeine is a drug found in many drinks, such as coffee and tea. These drinks are consumed daily by millions of people around the world without any adverse side effects. This is because caffeine is taken in small enough quantities that it doesn’t become addicting or toxic.

Caffeine is found in many products, including some medications. For example, certain over-the-counter headache medications contain caffeine to ward off drowsiness and dehydration when using these drugs. Caffeine overdose is rare because the drug is regulated for sale in safe doses that are not harmful or addicting.


Sugar can be another seemingly harmless drug that can be addicting. It is found in many types of foods and drinks, including candy, baked goods, cereal, soda, sports drinks, and even some fruit juice brands. Sugar overdose isn’t typically a concern because the levels found in these products are not enough to cause problems for most people.

However, this can become problematic if sugar is taken in high enough quantities. For example, the average soda contains about 40 grams of sugar, five teaspoons of white granulated sugar. Consuming 40 grams of sugar at once can lead to toxicity and poisoning with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, coma, and even death in some cases.

Since many people drink several sodas a day, the sugar intake can add up quickly. It is estimated that some people ingest as much as 200 grams of sugar a day from food and drinks alone. Sugar addiction is possible if it is taken in this quantity regularly.

Prescription Drugs

In contrast to those two examples, prescription medications can be very addicting and are often the cause of drug abuse. This is because it is typically taken in high doses for medical reasons. These drugs are meant to be used carefully under direct supervision to prevent addiction and overdose. If these medications are misused, they can cause tolerance build-up, dependence, and even addiction.

Icd 10 patient is in treatment for benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawing from drugs. They are being treated through different things to stop the addiction such as therapy, their own personal spirituality, and self-help groups.

Drug Abuse from Street Drugs and Prescription Drugs

Street drugs are only one form of drug abuse. Aside from marijuana, the most frequently abused medicines in the United States are legal ones. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can help and heal us, but a prescription drug may be addictive and harmful when misused.


These drugs, also known as sedatives, include phenobarbital, pentobarbital (Nembutal), and secobarbital (Seconal). They’re used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and some epileptic fits. However, if you take more than the recommended amount, you may build a tolerance.

When mixed with alcohol, barbiturates can cause breathing difficulties and even death. High doses might produce breathing difficulties, mainly if you use them when drinking. If you can’t live without barbiturates, seek assistance. Withdrawal after drug addiction is potentially harmful. It can cause seizures, convulsions, hallucinations, and even heart failure.


It’s a narcotic that can produce euphoria or a “rush,” making you feel relaxed and drowsy. It may be injected, smoked in a water pipe with tobacco, mixed in marijuana joints, or snorted as a powder. Heroin can cause nausea, vomiting, and severe itching.

People become physically dependent quickly but may not begin to experience the symptoms of addiction until months or years after they’ve started using it. The symptoms include uncontrollable drug craving, compulsive use, and continuing use, even if it interferes with how you think about yourself and your relationships.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms begin soon after the last dose and may include muscle and bone pain, cold flashes with goosebumps, uncontrollable leg movements, vomiting, and severe diarrhea.


It is a stimulant that produces brief euphoria or intense pleasure — usually lasting no more than a few minutes — followed by depression. Depending on how it’s taken, cocaine can be up to 85 percent pure. It increases heart rate and can bring on severe cardiac problems, including heart attacks.

People who abuse crack cocaine may have repeated binging episodes where they take the drug repeatedly for days or even weeks without sleeping. This usually ends with a crash that includes extreme fatigue. During this time, users don’t eat and may do other dangerous things like share needles.

Withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings for the drug, irritability, anxiety, depression, fatigue, extreme hunger, increased blood pressure, vivid nightmares, paranoia, tremors or “cocaine shakes,” and uncontrollable repetitive actions such as picking at the skin or obsessively rubbing a particular area of the body.


These include methadone, morphine, and heroin. They are narcotics used to treat severe pain or coughing due to respiratory diseases like pneumonia or tuberculosis. Opioid withdrawal can be intense but is rarely life-threatening. Opioid overdose symptoms may include watery eyes, tearing, yawning, runny nose, muscle aches, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, shivering, irritability, and anxiety.


Another form of sedative that may assist with anxiety, panic attacks, and trouble sleeping is the benzodiazepines (Alprazolam [Xanax], Clonazepam [Klonopin], and Diazepam [Valium]).

They’re practical, and they’re more secure than barbiturates. They can, however, be overused and even taken as directed, resulting in physical dependence and addiction. These medications can be deadly if stopped abruptly. If you believe you rely on these medicines, talk to your doctor. Prescriptions should not be shared since they are only for the person who has them. It’s a good idea to keep the medication in a locked box or cabinet.

It’s also possible to experience withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines, including anxiety, irritability, muscle spasms, and trouble sleeping. Some people have even experienced hallucinations due to increased brain activity. Usually, withdrawal isn’t life-threatening unless you take high doses for a long time. Quitting cold turkey is risky and should always be done under medical supervision in case a medical emergency arises.


These are included in the barbiturate family; others include Chloral hydrate (Noctec, Paronal), Diazepam (Valium), Flurazepam (Dalmane), Quazepam (Doral), Estazolam (ProSom), Triazolam (Halcion), and Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol, the “date rape drug”).

A sedative is a prescription drug that may be used to help you sleep or relax during anxiety-producing situations. It affects the central nervous system and belongs to the list of addictive drugs. You shouldn’t take them for any longer than two weeks without speaking to your doctor.

Sedatives may be beneficial in the short term but can create problems when used for a long time resulting in prescription drug abuse. Even if you take them as directed, your body will become reliant on them to sleep and function normally.

Withdrawal symptoms from drug use include irritability, anxiety, tremors or “cocaine shakes,” aggression, stomach cramps, nightmares, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite.


Stimulants, such as amphetamines Adderall, Adderall XR, Dextroamphetamine, and Mydasis, can benefit individuals with ADHD when appropriately used. Some people abuse a stimulant drug for a variety of purposes, including to enhance energy and alertness, as well as to reduce weight. Stimulants can be addicting and can cause substance use disorder.

These are highly addictive stimulants that suppress the appetite and increase energy, alertness, mood, and self-confidence. These drugs can be addictive because they keep you awake for long periods. One common form is methamphetamine (Meth). People who abuse amphetamines may become anxious, irritable, and delusional, leading them to take large quantities of the drug at once.

High doses can bring on a destructive binge that lasts for days, during which users don’t sleep or eat much and become paranoid and angry. At high doses and with frequent use, amphetamines can cause panic attacks, delusions of being persecuted, hallucinations, and an irregular heartbeat.

A single dose of amphetamine has been known to induce a fatal rise in body temperature, tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate), and even cardiac arrest. The names “bennies,” “black beauties,” and “speed” are all used to describe amphetamines.

Sleep Medicines

Sleeping pills, such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata), can assist you in getting the rest you require. However, if you take them longer than your doctor suggests, you might become dependent on them and need to sleep. The most acceptable approach to manage any sleep issue is through good sleep hygiene skills practice. Although they aren’t as addicting as some sleeping medications, doctors are concerned about substance abuse due to their abuse potential.

Codeine and Morphine

Painkillers are one of the most widely abused prescription medicines, particularly opioids. These drugs relieve pain and create a euphoric high in excessive doses, with potentially fatal side effects. Morphine is usually given to patients suffering from severe discomfort, although codeine is typically used for lesser pain or as a cough suppressant.

Painkillers, especially opioids, are one of the most commonly misused prescription drugs. These medicines alleviate pain but can also produce a euphoric high in higher doses, as well as serious adverse effects. For severe suffering or coughing, doctors usually prescribe morphine using the brand name Avinza (MS Contin is another brand).

OxyContin, Percocet

Oxycodone is another type of opioid pain medication, and it’s found in medicines like OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, and Roxicodone. Oxycodone abusers frequently crush and snort or inject it, significantly raising the danger of overdose. Street names include “oxy,” “O.C.,” and “oxycotton” for OxyContin and “percs” for Percocet or Percodan.

Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet

The combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen in these pain relievers is what makes them so powerful. Opioids induce drowsiness and constipation, and high dosages can lead to severe breathing issues.

The names of Vicodin include “vike” and “Watson-387,” which are derived from the trade names for the two medications. Your body may have grown reliant on any of these opioid medicines if you stop them suddenly because they make you feel sick, similar to the flu. If you require narcotic pain medicines for an extended period, talk to your doctor about it and over the counter medications.


This is a stimulant found in ADHD medications such as Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Methylin, and Ritalin. Its aliases include “MPH,” “R-ball,” “Skippy,” “the smart drug,” and “vitamin R.” Combining prescription stimulants with usual decongestants can induce dangerously high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat.

Dextromethorphan (DXM)

It’s more complicated than you may think. Dextromethorphan, which is found in many over-the-counter cold and cough medications, helps to stop the cough. However, massive doses might cause hallucinations and intoxication.

Because cough syrup is so simple to come by in medicine cabinets, it’s very popular among teenagers. Vomiting, rapid heart rate, and — rarely — brain damage are all common effects of high doses.


This is an ingredient in several non-prescription cold treatments. It aids in the removal of mucus from the airways, but it’s also used in illegal methamphetamine “meth.” To limit meth usage, the United States has imposed restrictions on where you can purchase pseudoephedrine goods. That’s why certain cold medicines are kept behind the counter and why some may be delivered to your home.

There are many forms of illegal drugs you can get hooked on but there are also legal drugs people become dependent on that have similar effects as some illegal drugs without being outlawed. These are just a few of the legal substances that people abuse because they cause physical dependence. We’re all affected by drugs and their effects on the human body, so we should always use any drug wisely and safely, whether it’s legal or illegal.

It’s important to remember that no matter what type of substance you abuse, recovery programs are available to help overcome your addiction. If you think you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, get help today.