Scripts and pills are everywhere, so it’s easy to forget how powerful they can be. Though they may promise relief and help us feel our best, prescription medications have a long list of potential dangers. As a matter of fact, the United States reported over 106,699 drug-related overdose deaths in 2021.
We at Casco Bay Recovery have seen firsthand how dangerous some prescriptions can be. We know that finding help is not only possible—it’s essential. That’s why we’re here to provide an overview of seven of the most dangerous prescription pills to watch out for and offer helpful resources if you or someone you care about needs help fighting addiction.
What are the Dangers of Prescription Drugs?
All medications come with risks, but prescription drugs have an inherent danger due to their high potency and potential for misuse. In the US, it was reported that overdose deaths from drugs are increasing by 30% annually.
Recent Deaths from Drug Overdose
- In January 2021, the number of deaths resulting from drug overdose surpassed homicides by 306.7%.
- Combined, motor vehicle accidents and suicides caused 84.5% as many deaths as drug overdoses.
- The average annual overdose death rate for individuals aged 15 to 24 years old is 12.6% per 100,000. This age group’s overdose death rate is 41.9% lower than the national average death rate.
- Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from a drug overdose. Women, though, are experiencing a slightly faster annual rate of deaths from a drug overdose.
- Opioids are the most lethal drug type. It contains at least one opioid type, contributing to 71.76% of all drug overdose deaths.
- Opioids kill more than three times the number of people who die from cocaine use.
- In terms of death count, drug overdoses are ranked just below diabetes as the leading cause of death.
- In Maine, there were 371 overdose deaths per year reported. With a 29.9% death rate out of every 100,000 residents.
It’s, unfortunately, easier than you may think to become addicted to prescription drugs—and they can be just as, if not more, dangerous than illicit drugs when used non-medically or abused. So what are some of the most dangerous prescription pills out there?
7 of the Most Dangerous Prescription Pills
Prescription pills can be very dangerous, and there are seven in particular that you should be aware of. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and stimulants as the most commonly misused drugs in 2020. Others include heroin, methadone, and cocaine. Let’s take a closer look at these 7 hazardous drugs:
Opioids, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, are often prescribed to manage pain. These various types of pain may range from acute post-surgical pain to chronic pain conditions. When used as prescribed and for a short duration, these medications can be effective in managing pain. However, opioids have a high potential for abuse and are highly addictive and lethal when taken in large doses or mixed with alcohol or other substances.
Stimulants—such as Adderall and Ritalin—are often prescribed to treat conditions like attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy. While they are effective in managing these conditions, they can also be addictive and dangerous when abused. Taking these drugs in large doses can lead to an irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and even death.
Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and seizures. Some of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. While these medications can be effective in treating certain conditions, they can also cause a range of side effects, including drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, impaired coordination, and memory problems. In addition, these drugs can also be highly addictive and dangerous when taken in large doses or combined with other drugs.
Barbiturates—such as Nembutal and Seconal—are often prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia. While they can be effective in managing these conditions, they can also be lethal when taken in large doses. In addition, combining them with other substances, such as alcohol, can be especially dangerous.
Methadone is commonly prescribed to treat opioid addiction. It can be effective in treating addiction and is sometimes prescribed for pain management, particularly for patients with chronic pain who have developed a tolerance to other opioids. While methadone can be an effective tool in the treatment of opioid addiction, it is still an opioid and carries risks, including the potential for abuse, dependence, and overdose.
Cocaine increases dopamine levels in the brain, leading to intense feelings of euphoria, energy, and alertness, but also a “crash”. It can make them depressed, irritable, and crave more of the drug. Cocaine is typically found in powder form and is often snorted, injected, or rubbed onto the gums. It can also be processed into a rock crystal called “crack cocaine,” which is smoked.
Heroin is an illegal and highly addictive opioid drug derived from morphine, a substance extracted from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. When used heroin quickly enters the brain and binds to opioid receptors, producing an intense feeling of euphoria and pain relief. However, using heroin carries significant risks, including overdose, which can lead to respiratory failures and other health problems, such as collapsed veins, infections, abscesses, and heart, liver, or kidney damage.
No matter what drug you’re dealing with, it’s essential to be aware of the risks associated with it. We urge extreme caution when taking any of these prescription drugs and encourage everyone who needs help to find substance use disorder treatment. At Casco Bay Recovery, we provide evidence-based medications that help treat addiction. Find out more about our medication assisted treatment program for substance use disorders.
Managing Addiction With Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
When it comes to addressing addiction, there are a few options available. Of course, avoiding these dangerous prescription drugs altogether is the best option. But for those who are already addicted and want to get clean, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) could be an option.
MAT is a form of treatment that combines medicine with counseling and behavioral therapy to treat substance use disorders. It helps reduce cravings, manage withdrawal symptoms, and help patients stay clean by decreasing the effects associated with the drugs they abuse. This type of treatment is most successful when combined with other evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy.
In addition to providing MAT, Casco Bay Recovery offers a more holistic approach to addiction management that includes individualized counseling and support from trained clinicians who specialize in helping individuals struggling with substance use disorder.
Steps to Finding Substance Use Disorder Treatment
If you or your loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, help is out there. Knowing where to start can be overwhelming, but here are a few steps that can help you get started:
The first step to finding treatment for substance use disorder is to talk to your doctor. Your physician should have knowledge about available treatments and can provide information about the rehab. It’s important that if you’re already taking prescription medications, you consult your doctor before making any changes.
Doing research on different types of treatment programs and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is also important. Many treatment facilities offer outpatient or inpatient rehab programs; one may be more suitable for your situation than the other, so it’s important to understand the differences between them before selecting one.
Depending on the type of care requested, treatment for substance use disorder can be expensive. Evaluating cost and insurance coverage with your insurance provider will give you a better understanding of what plan works best for you financially.
Look for addiction treatment centers that offer services tailored specifically to each individual’s needs and preferences, such as religious affiliation or gender-specific needs.
Achieve Long-Term Sobriety at Casco Bay Recovery
A facility like Casco Bay Recovery provides personalized care plans as well as all the support someone would need during their recovery journeys, such as medical detoxification, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and ongoing support. Don’t hesitate to reach out today to achieve long-term sobriety and reclaim your life!