From drugs to medications What are psychoactive drugs?

The abuse of certain medications can be addictive. They are legally sold under prescription but their non-medical use is already a serious public health problem in some countries such as the United States. The medications used to treat pain, attention deficit disorders, or anxiety are becoming addictive substances for illegal drug users.

The abuse of certain prescription medications, including opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and stimulants, can lead to a variety of adverse health effects beyond addiction. The problem worsens. The truth is that this increase is reflected in a greater number of admissions to detox treatments, a greater number of visits to emergency rooms, and an increase in deaths from overdoses.

The vast majority of these drugs require a prescription for dispensing. Juan Armengol Richart, a member of Saluspot and pharmacist, explains to us which are the most addictive drugs sold in the pharmacy.

Derivatives of opium

They are medications that relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect the areas of the brain that control emotions, thus reducing the effects of a painful stimulus.


Drug with great analgesic power, it is used to treat very strong pain and is often used in surgeries. The addiction occurs because it binds to opioid receptors of pain by producing a welfare state in the patient. A prescription is required and is dispensed in intramuscular vials.


It also acts on opiate pain receptors and hence its great analgesic power. It is used in the treatment of chronic pain and is usually applied with transdermal patches. A specific prescription for narcotic drugs is needed.



It is an opioid pain reliever. It is used in tablets to treat pain but does not need a specific prescription for narcotic drugs, so it is easier for the patient to access.


It is an opiate derivative but has an antitussive effect, making it useful against dry coughs. It is easily available in pharmacies in the form of syrup and tablets, so there may be a greater number of people with this addiction. It usually causes constipation.

Benzodiazepines group

They are known as sedatives or tranquilizers, they are substances that can decrease brain activity. This property makes them useful for the treatment of anxiety and sleep disorders.


It is a long-acting anxiolytic. He was the first of the group with hypnotic, anticonvulsant, sedative, and muscle relaxant activity. It is dispensed in tablets and it is recommended to use at most 15 days.


It is a short-acting anxiolytic. It has hypnotic, anticonvulsant, sedative and muscle relaxant action. It is prescribed in tablets to older people.


Short-acting anxiolytic, unlike the previous ones, this one has antidepressant activity. All require a prescription and come in tablet form.


In this case, they act in the brain in a similar way to a key family of brain neurotransmitters called monoamines, which include norepinephrine and dopamine. Stimulants increase the effects of these chemicals in the brain.


It is a weak stimulant of the central nervous system. It is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is used in children mainly and the form of tablets.


It is a nasal decongestant in inhaler format easily available in pharmacies without a prescription. It is not recommended to use more than 3 days. If used for many days, it can cause a rebound effect and you always need it to breathe easier (addiction).