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What painkillers are addicting?

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Quick Answer

Painkillers posing the risk of addiction derive from opiates: common opiate-based medications in the United States include Dilaudid, Percocet, Percodon, OxyContin, Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet, Demerol and Duragesic. Physicians generally prescribe these medications for pain management. Most people take the prescribed dosage without problems, but others, particularly people taking high doses and using medications for long periods of time, develop dependencies.

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Full Answer

Patients typically receive prescription painkillers from their physicians for various medical conditions. These medications classify as opiates; this cluster of drugs includes the notorious street drug heroin. All opiate substances derive from the poppy plant, and boast powerful pain relief as their primary benefits. These medications, however, also produce a euphoric feeling and blissful state, making them appealing for continued use among some patients.

In addition to stimulating feelings of pleasure and reducing pain, opiate medicines provide anxiety relief. This combination, according to WebMD, makes opiate-based prescription painkillers the most abused medications in the U.S. Experts at WebMD classify level of dependency in several categories: drug abuse, dependency and addiction. Drug abuse includes short-term excessive use, while dependency produces a systemic dependency on substances to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Drug addiction presents as a physical and psychological dependence on certain substances; continued use of the drug despite risks and overwhelming desire to constantly have the drugs present as primary indicators of addiction.

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