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10 Addictively Dangerous Yet Legal Drugs

4 min read

By Emily Lockhart

It might surprise you learn that many of the most addictive drugs for humans are actually legal. They are commonly prescribed by doctors, bought over the counter in many cases at corner stores, and even filled readily by pharmacists.

Here are ten drugs are perfectly legal yet quite addictive and fatal when abused…

1. Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids can provide right the chemicals to your body and brain if you suffer from low testosterone, or suffer from a muscle-expending disease—like AIDS or cancer.  However, when this synthetic testosterone is taken by a healthy man or women for the purposes of bulking up muscle mass, they can cause dangerous and addictive consequences, including aggression, paranoia, irritability, and damage the liver, kidneys, and heart.

2. Caffeine

If you suffer from early morning irritability and jitters before you gulp down your morning coffee, you know what caffeine addiction feels like. In fact, medical studies estimate that roughly 30-percent of American’s are dependent on caffeine and would suffer withdrawal symptoms if they had to quit the stimulant cold turkey. While up to 4-cups of coffee (or 400-milligrams of caffeine) is safe for the average healthy adult, caffeine in excess (more than 500-miligrams per day) can result in insomnia, accelerated heart rate, anxiety, and mix dangerously with other medications.

3. Benzos

Benzos or more precisely, drugs in the benzodiazepine family— such as Klonopin and Valium—are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat a range of anxiety disorders and chronic stress. Dangerously addictive with plenty of side effects from long term use, dependence on these powerful sedatives impair mental and physical function, and cause deadly withdrawal symptoms, like seizures, tremors, and even heart attack.

4. Xanax

Even though it’s in the benzo family, Xanax gets its own slide because abuse of this highly addictive drug has earned it the title “the most dangerous drug being used in the state of Florida.” According to the statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Xanax causes the most drug-related deaths in the state. Even though Xanax is typically used to treat anxiety-related conditions, misuse can actually result in increased anxiety, depression, jaundice (due to liver damage), hallucinations, and seizures.

5. Prescription Cough Syrup

If every cold you get turns into bronchitis or sinusitis, your might prescribe a lot of prescription cough syrup containing codeine. This powerful and addictive opiate has gained street cred from rappers, like Lil Wayne, who mix it into an alcoholic concoction known as Purple Drank or “sizzurp,” which can cause respiratory failure thanks to mixing alcohol, codeine, and antihistamine (promethazine).

6. Nicotine

It’s bizarre that you can easily purchase one of the world’s most addictive drugs at your local bodega or gas station. Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco all contain a highly addictive substance, nicotine, a potent parasympathomimetic alkaloid that causes dependence, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), blood clots, and several types of cancer (i.e., namely lung and mouth cancer).

7. Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills are both addictive and deadly. Just ask a San Diego-based research team who studied the death rates associated with sleeping pill use in a 2010 report. Popular sleeping pills, such as Ambien and Restoril, not only resulted in 500,000 U.S. fatalities; those who used sleeping pills were actually considered to triple their risk of death due to daytime anxiety and amnesia, as well as accidents that occurred during nighttime amnesia and blackouts.

8. Opioids

Painkillers in the opioid family—most commonly Percocet, Vicodin, and OxyContin—are considered highly addictive and dangerous, which is why they are prescribed only for treat short-term, acute pain. The euphoric effect of taking these drugs makes them easily addictive. So much so that statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that opioid addiction and overdose causes roughly 40 deaths every day in the U.S.

9. Valium

Actor Heath Ledger brought the dangers of valium use to light following his high-profile and accidental overdose in 2008. While Ledger’s death is thought to be the result of a combination of prescription medications—including painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs (which included valium), and sleeping pills—valium is mentioned twice in this article because it’s widely prescribed to treat everything from anxiety disorders to alcohol withdrawal.

10. Alcohol

Almost everyone has a story about how alcohol negatively impacted their lives. You may have a family member with an alcohol addiction or you may have experienced alcohol in a harmful manner—like a car collision caused by drinking and driving. Either way, the wide availability and social use of alcohol makes it easy to become dependent upon.  According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), approximately one in 12 U.S. adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or engage in risky behavior due to alcohol dependence.

Emily Lockhart


Emily Lockhart is a weight loss expert who specializes in healthy living. She is dedicated to providing health-conscious individuals with the information they need to make great lifestyle choices that will make them look and feel better. In her spare time, Emily teaches Pilates at a local studio and enjoys activities like hiking, rowing and biking.

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