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What Are the Most Dangerous Prescription Drugs?

Written by Jimmy Rustling

Too often, we view prescription medicines as being harmless. The reality is that prescription drugs can be dangerous in many ways.

For example, if you use certain prescription drugs, they can affect your reaction time and coordination, putting you at greater risk of being in an accident.

Prescription drugs are linked to addiction and dependence, and you can also overdose on them, which leads to tens of thousands of deaths every year.

With those risks in mind, the following are some of the most dangerous prescription drugs.


You’ll notice that all of the most dangerous and deadly prescription drugs fall into a category called opioids. Opioids are drugs that help relieve pain, but they’re also highly addictive.

When someone takes an opioid, which includes hydrocodone, it affects how pain messages are sent to their brain.

At the same time, opioids also slow down breathing. When breathing slows too much, you may not get enough oxygen to the brain. This is how overdose deaths occur.

Hydrocodone is a generic type of opioid that is the key active ingredient in brand-name prescription drugs like Vicodin.

Hydrocodone is especially dangerous because it’s often combined with the over-the-counter medicine acetaminophen. If someone takes too high of a dose of hydrocodone with acetaminophen, along with the potential for an overdose to occur, they may also suffer liver damage or failure.

Other brand names of hydrocodone include Lortab and Norco.


Oxycodone is also an opioid that’s in prescription drugs like OxyContin and Percocet.

There has been a lot of discussion about the Sackler family who owned Purdue Pharma.

The Purdue Pharma company has been named in dozens of lawsuits because they created OxyContin.

In the 1990s, the Purdue Pharma company pushed doctors to prescribe OxyContin, saying that it wasn’t addictive. That ended up fueling what is now known as the Opioid Epidemic.

Recently in a federal court, Purdue Pharma pled guilty to three criminal charges, taking responsibility for its role in the Opioid Epidemic.


Oxymorphone is an opioid that’s in brand name drugs like Opana. It’s meant to be reserved for cases of moderate to severe pain. There are extended-release forms like Opana ER for around-the-clock pain relief.

Sometimes the extended-release version of these dangerous prescription drugs is even more deadly because people will find ways to abuse them and get the full dose all at once, creating an amplified risk of an overdose.

Oxymorphone can lead not only to psychological addiction but physical dependence. This dependence is just one of the many factors that make opioids the most dangerous prescription drugs.

Over time the more your brain and body are exposed to opioids, the more they begin to rely on those drugs. When someone is dependent on Oxymorphone or a similar drug if they try to stop they’ll experience withdrawal symptoms.

It’s difficult for people to stop using opioids because of the addiction but also the dependence. Making it through the withdrawal period is incredibly hard.


Methadone is actually a type of opioid that’s used as part of medication-assisted treatment or MAT. MAT is a way for people addicted and dependent on opioids to gradually stop using them with the addition of medicine as well as behavioral therapy.

Methadone is generally considered a safe and effective opioid use disorder treatment, but only when it’s taken as it should be.

Methadone does affect the same parts of the brain and nervous system as other opioids, however. It lessens withdrawal symptoms, and it can block the euphoric effects of other opioids.

If someone takes too much methadone, it can lead to an overdose just like other opioids, even though it’s milder.

Methadone has to be taken under the supervision of a physician, and it can only be dispensed through a certified opioid treatment program.

As has been touched on above, the big risk of all these drugs in addition to overdose and the increased likelihood of hurting yourself or someone else, is the addiction factor.

When you take a prescription opioid, it affects the reward and pleasure centers in your brain. That’s why you might feel euphoria, and the effects are similar to heroin which is an illicit opioid. Over time, your brain wants to continue to seek out those positive stimuli. That’s how addiction to a prescription drug or illegal drug forms.

Once you’re addicted, your brain compels you to keep taking that substance regardless of the negative or dangerous outcomes.

Before taking any prescription medication, it’s important for you to go over the risks and benefits with your health care provider and understand the proper way to take it.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.