Drug Addiction Treatment
person wrapped up in blanket in bed while wondering what are the most addictive painkillers
By BrightView
Published: May 13, 2024
Updated: May 14, 2024

Prescription painkillers are a part of daily life for many people. Whether someone is managing chronic pain or recovering from an injury, these medications are taken daily across the U.S. While effective and relatively safe for temporary use, they can be highly addictive, especially when combined with other substances.

For anyone with a co-occurring disorder like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, prescription drugs can more easily lead to dependence and other substance use. Understanding which painkillers are most addictive and how to spot early signs of addiction can help people know when to seek painkiller addiction treatment.

If you or someone you love is ready to learn more about painkiller addiction treatment, call BrightView now. With clinics in multiple states prepared to serve you, our outpatient programs can help you feel better today. Call 888.501.9865 to speak with our intake specialists and get started.

Which Painkillers Are Most Addictive?

There are several types of painkillers prescribed every day. Understanding how they work can help people understand how misuse and addiction develop. Here are a couple of the most addictive painkiller types.


Opioids and opiates are the most common prescription painkillers. Derived from the opium poppy, opioids and opiates work by stopping pain receptors in the brain. Common opioids include:

  • Vicodin
  • OxyContin
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine
  • Demerol

The brain and body quickly build a tolerance to opioids. This means that someone needs a higher dose to feel the same effects. Unfortunately, this can soon lead to the misuse of opioids.

Central Nervous System Depressants

Benzos are some of the most common central nervous system depressants that work by increasing GABA levels in the brain. This slows down the nervous system, promotes calmness, and can cause someone to slur speech and struggle to follow a conversation. Common nervous system depressants include:

  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Valium

Central nervous system depressants are often prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and sedating someone during high stress or trauma. Supplementing GABA with prescriptions can cause the brain to stop producing the chemical independently. This can lead to difficult withdrawal, return and worsening of symptoms, and long-term cognitive problems.

Both types of prescription painkillers increase dopamine levels in the brain. This can cause a reward effect that leads the brain to crave more dopamine and take more medication, leading to addiction.

Common Signs of Prescription Painkiller Addiction

Along with physical discomfort, prescription painkillers can relieve mental, emotional, and psychological pain. This can lead to someone taking more of a prescription than prescribed or taking a medication more frequently. Some common signs of prescription painkiller addiction include:

  • Memory loss
  • Speech problems
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Frequent headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Digestive issues, such as constipation
  • Bouts of dizziness
  • Confusion

Taking a medication other than how it is prescribed is considered misuse. When someone misuses a painkiller, they may develop a dependency and health complications. Taking more than prescribed, mixing medication with alcohol, crushing pills, or getting multiple prescriptions are all signs it’s time to reach out to a painkiller addiction treatment program.

Outpatient Painkiller Addiction Treatment That Works

While prescription painkillers can lead to substance use disorders, there are treatment options that work. Medically assisted treatments like Suboxone, Methadone, Naloxone, and Vivitrol are among the most popular and effective options for painkiller withdrawal.

BrightView’s outpatient treatment programs focus on helping patients feel better immediately. Our painkiller addiction treatment programs include:

  • Medication management
  • Suboxone treatments
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Telehealth therapy
  • 24/7 phone support
  • Same-day enrollment

At BrightView, we know accessibility is crucial to treatment and recovery. Our compassionate staff treats patients like people and addiction like a disease. With a range of insurance plans and payment options, our team can help you start treatment right away.

Learn More About BrightView Today

Call today and feel better tomorrow. Contact our staff now at 888.501.9865 or online to learn more about treatment options and find a BrightView clinic near you.