Drug-related deaths in America have doubled in the last decade. This is thought to be linked to the opioid epidemic currently facing North America and the accessibility of illicit drugs on the streets.
Prescription drugs are just as dangerous as illicit drugs, and perhaps even scarier since they are legally prescribed by doctors every day. Prescription drugs are highly addictive and can have horrible side effects when dosed incorrectly, including death.
Is there a suicidal drug? Keep reading for the 7 more dangerous and lethal drugs available today in the United States.
Barbituates used to be in sleeping pills. They are depressants of the central nervous system and are a very effective sedative.
It used to be extremely common for people to attempt and be successful in committing suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills when they contained barbiturates.
The make-up of sleeping pills has now changed, as drug administrations started seeing the dangers of prescribing anything containing barbituates. They are now rarely prescribed and difficult to obtain without a prescription – but not impossible.
Overdosing on sleeping pills is now a thing of the past. However, the old formula containing barbiturates may still be prescribed in cases of extreme insomnia, so if you do wind up having barbiturates in your medicine cabinet, be careful.
Thousands of people die every year from overdosing on legally prescribed painkillers. And it’s the most commonly prescribed pain pills that are the main culprit.
Common opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Fentanyl, Percocet, and Vicodin are highly addictive and easy to overdose on.
Because of their addictive properties, people who become addicted to painkillers often escalate to snorting or injecting them rather than taking them orally. This expedites the onset of the euphoric effects, but also fast tracks toward an overdose.
In severe cases, addicts will then turn to Class A illicit drugs like crack or heroin to get a bigger rush. Taking painkillers as directed by a physician is effective for treating pain, but should be used with extreme care.
Prescribed in cases of anxiety or insomnia, benzodiazepines are tranquilizers found in common drugs such as Xanax, Valium, and Ativan.
Like painkillers, benzodiazepines are highly addictive and produce horrible side effects when taken for extended periods of time. The withdrawal symptoms from these drugs are intense and can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.
Over 13 million people fill prescriptions for benzodiazepines every year in the U.S. The pills work well to quell anxiety and help people sleep, but because they are tranquilizers with depressive effects, misuse can lead to death.
Methadone is a painkiller, but its dual function is to help wean people off heroin addiction. It is an extremely powerful analgesic drug that produces effects similar to morphine and heroin.
Because of its painkilling properties, it is effective in easing the pain of heroin withdrawal. And because of its similar effects, it is seen as a substitute for heroin.
Think of a cigarette smoker weaning themselves off cigarettes by vaping. They’re still getting the effects of nicotine but at a lower, safer dose. The ultimate goal is often to eventually quit smoking cigarettes.
The same principle applies when using methadone to wean people off heroin. And it is effective in doing so. However, like the rest of the drugs mentioned so far in this list, taking too much or misusing methadone can lead to overdose and death.
5. ADD Drugs
Between 4% and 9% of children and adults are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) every year, and prescribed stimulant drugs like Ritalin.
While these stimulants are generally considered safe, the problem lies in overuse and sharing of the drug with others.
It’s common for college students to misuse stimulants to improve alertness and focus, and they are often shared and sold to people without a prescription. Taking more than the prescribed dose can lead to serious illness and sometimes death.
There has also been an increase of sudden unexplained deaths in children who were exposed to Ritalin and other stimulants. The direct link has yet to be proven, but the evidence is suspicious.
6. Class A Drugs
Illegal drugs like heroin, crack and crystal meth are extremely dangerous, for many reasons. Firstly, they are highly addictive and often result in the addict taking more and more to keep up with tolerance increases.
The more of a drug you take, the higher the tolerance you have. And the higher the tolerance you have, the more you will need to get high. At a certain point, the line to overdosing becomes very fine.
Especially with the current opioid epidemic and powerful painkillers like Fentanyl being cut in, street drugs are more dangerous than ever. 50% of overdose deaths in the United States in 2018 were linked to Fentanyl.
Not only are Class A drugs illegal because of their likelihood to cause overdose, getting them involves interacting with criminals.
7. Cocktail Drugs
Nowadays, there are so many weird, basement-concocted drug mixtures on the market, it’s hard to keep track.
A few worth mentioning are purple drank, and bath salts. Purple drank is the combination of soda, sugar and cough syrup. It produces a drunk-like feeling due to the codeine in the cough syrup.
Mixed with alcohol, it’s a dangerous combination and taking too much can lead to serious illness and even death.
Who remembers the bath salts epidemic? They started being referred to as the ‘zombie drug’, because of its users’ propensity to attacking other people and trying to ‘eat their faces’.
They are a synthetic crystalline compound, mostly sold online under the description of regular bath salts. Ingesting the substance causes panic attacks, violent behavior and poses the risk of a heart attack.
Other Suicidal Drug Combinations
The drugs we’ve mentioned are dangerous enough when taken on their own. When mixed together or with alcohol or other drugs, the effects can be lethal.
For instance, mixing alcohol with benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan) enhances the effects of both the alcohol and the drug.
The combination often causes memory loss, which makes the user forget how much of each they have had. And ultimately taking more of each, potentially leading to overdose or death.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t mix drugs. For example, taking heroin and cocaine together can make the user feel like they haven’t taken enough of each, potentially leading to overdosing on one or both of the substances.
The Bottom Line
Is there a suicidal drug? Yes. There are many. And legally prescribed drugs are just as dangerous as street drugs. They are just as addictive, and just as easy to overdose on.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to legal or illegal drugs, learn more about our drug treatment programs.