Commonly Abused and Addictive Painkillers

Synthetic or semi-synthetic opiates are some of the most addictive painkillers on the market today. Typically prescribed for chronic pain, the awareness exists of its potential for addiction but often happens when individual users try to control the dosages to manage pain or when unused pills are given away for non-medical use. Find out some of the most commonly abused and addictive painkillers.

Common Abuses

Painkillers are commonly abused prescription drugs. Some of the drugs receive attention when celebrities become addicted following an operation or medical procedure. Some of the most common ones include:


  • Stadol – also known as Butorphanol, it is taken as a nasal spray in an injectable solution. Can be prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and includes side effects of skin rash, anxiety, breathing issues and confusion
  • Demerol – generic name for the drug is Meperidine. Demerol is taken as a pill or injectable solution. Helps relieve moderate to severe pain with side effects including skin rash, wheezing, fainting, hallucinations and seizures.
  • Fentanyl – prescribed to people who take other pain meds for a week but require additional relief. Taken as a lozenge, injectable solutions or patch on the skin. Prescribed for intense cancer pain or when other pain meds are not strong enough. Can cause breathing problems, confusion, hallucinations and irregular heartbeat.
  • OxyContin – made of Oxycodone, OxyContin is one of the most famous addictive painkillers prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Can create side effects such as breathing difficulties, confusion and light-headedness.
  • Percocet – commonly prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Addictive with similar effects to OxyContin.
  • Vicodin – narcotic pain relief typically prescribed for severe pain caused by injury or disease. Typically develops tolerance with potential to develop into prescription drug addiction.

Side Effects

People who use painkillers outside of prescribed dosages are at a higher risk for some physical side effects, which may include:

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

Side effects will affect every aspect of a person’s life. People with addiction are at risk of experiencing side effects in all areas including finances, work and personal relationships. Prescription painkillers have the power to reduce chronic pain but most people who become addicted need some kind of help to get rid of addiction and return to some sense of normalcy.

Signs of Addiction

Learning the signs of addiction can help provide support if a loved one is struggling. Some of the potential signs include:

  • Refilling prescription drugs more often than directed
  • Going to multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions (doctor shopping)
  • Spending more time isolated, away from family
  • Spending money quickly with no explanation
  • Changes in mood
  • Missing work or family functions

When a loved one is suspected of abusing painkillers, it is recommended the individual seek professional treatment to recover and get support for any withdrawal symptoms and aftercare management of addiction in recovery and pain.

The Villa provides individuals with information and resources to support addiction recovery. If you or someone you know struggle with chronic pain and may be abusing painkillers, contact us for more information on how we can help you kick the habit.